DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

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DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Recent Forest Ranger Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from across New York State.

In 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.

DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York's wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The State's brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service."

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 7 at 3:35 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 37-year-old hiker from the Bronx reporting she had injured her ankle while hiking down Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker indicated that she was mobile and hiking with a partner and that the pair would continue down the mountain. Assistant Forest Ranger Leff responded and started up the mountain to meet the hiking party while Forest Rangers Praczkajlo and Baldwin headed into Marcy Dam on an ATV. Once the Rangers reached the subject, they transported her back to the trailhead. The injured hiker said she would seek further medical attention on her own. The incident concluded at 8:20 p.m.

City of Plattsburgh
Clinton County
Torch Run for Special Olympics:
On Friday, Sept. 11, Region 5 Forest Ranger Capt. Streiff and Ranger Booth took part in the 50th Anniversary Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics in Plattsburgh. The run, organized by State and Federal Police, involved participants from numerous law enforcement agencies.

Forest Rangers and others pose for photo at Torch run
Forest Rangers take part in annual Torch Run for Special Olympics

Saratoga Springs
Saratoga County
Firefighters return home:
On Friday Sept. 11, a team of 10 DEC Forest Rangers, staff, and volunteers returned to New York after helping to battle and contain wildland fires raging in western states for two weeks. These trained, expert wildland firefighters helped battle high priority fires in Nebraska and South Dakota. A second New York crew headed out the next day and are currently assigned to the Cameron Peak Fire on the Arapaho and Roosevelt Forest near Redfeather Lakes, CO. That fire is 102,000 acres and four percent contained. More details on the Governor's website.

Town of Persia
Cattaraugus County
SAR training:
On Sept. 12 and 13, Rangers from Region 9 participated in a two-day training exercise sponsored by the regional tech rescue team. The first day consisted of two rope rescue scenarios in the Zoar gorge, which forced members of different departments to jointly utilize equipment and experience. On the second day of the training, Rangers reviewed the use of various tools and methods to complete swiftwater rescues. Departments from both Erie and Cattaraugus counties participated, as well as Erie County Sheriff's SWAT.

Forest Rangers and paddlers kayaking
Forest Rangers participate in two-day rescue training in Cattaraugus County

Town of Rochester
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 12, DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from Ulster County 911 reporting a man lost while hiking who ended up on the Vernoy trailhead. Coordinates placed the subject on the Long Path in Rochester, approximately 1,600 feet from Trails End Road. The hiker had 20 percent battery left on his phone, no food or water, and was wearing shorts while temperatures dropped. Ranger Slade responded and advised the hiker to stay put. The Ranger found the lost hiker on the Popple Hill Trail, provided him with a flashlight and water, and walked him back to his vehicle at the Upper Cherrytown Trailhead.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 13, a dispatcher from Ulster County 911 contacted Central Dispatch for a report of five lost hikers on the red trail of Slide Mountain in the town of Shandaken. Ulster County was unable to obtain coordinates for the group's location but stated they were good on water and warm clothing. Central Dispatch contacted a member of the group and received coordinates. At 11:24 p.m., Ranger Brand and two firefighters from the Phoenicia Fire Department located the five hikers, warmed and fed them, and provided the group with headlamps. Rangers Stratton, Allwine, and Franke also assisted, meeting up with Ranger Brand and the hiking party and walking them out of the woods at 3 a.m. The hikers declined further medical treatment.

Town of Peru
Clinton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On the morning of Sept. 13, Ray Brook dispatch received a report of three stranded paddlers on Valcour Island on Lake Champlain. The three boaters spent an unexpected night out due to bad weather. Ray Brook called the paddlers to advise the group that they were not in danger and to get more details about their whereabouts. Rangers Bronson and Russell responded to the boaters using a stationed motorboat from the DEC dock at Peru and located the three paddlers secure on Bluff Point. The paddlers and Rangers were back at the Peru Boat Launch by 10 a.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 13, a 37-year-old woman slipped on rocks and injured her lower leg while hiking to the bottom of Kaaterskill Falls with her family. Nearby hikers assisted her while Ranger Dawson responded. The Ranger provided the subject with medical care and she decided she wanted to walk out with the use of crutches. Ranger Gullen and Dawson assisted her out to the lower trailhead, where family picked her up to seek further medical care.

Town of Jewett
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue
: On Sept. 13, Central Dispatch received a call from a man requesting Ranger assistance for his friend who was unable to continue hiking the Colgate Lake Wild Trail in Greene County. The hiker said his friend was about two miles from the trailhead with no visible injuries but unable to walk after completing a 14-mile hike with his hiking party. The subject became nauseated and short of breath on the climb up, forcing the group to turn around near 3,500 feet of elevation and return to Colgate Lake. Ranger Dawson and Breigle responded to the area to assist and the hiker walked out on his own. Rangers evaluated the man, who declined further medical care.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hike Smart NY and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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