Recent Forest Ranger Highlights
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 2020, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 492 search and rescue missions, extinguished 192 wildfires that burned a total of more than 1,122 acres, participated in eight prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate more than 203 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 3,131 tickets or arrests.
"During New York's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are enjoying the outdoors than ever before and our Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help people get outside responsibly and get home safely," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Rangers' knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to white water rivers, and throughout our vast forests statewide."
Town of Hillsdale
Wildland Fire: On Mar. 12 at 10:30 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a request from Columbia County 911 for Forest Ranger support for a wildfire in the town of Hillsdale. Forest Ranger Gullen responded. The brush fire was approximately eight acres and fire crews were able to contain it by constructing a fire line with water support. Due to heavy winds, hot spots flared up on the hilltop, extending mop up operations. On Mar. 13 at 12:30 a.m., the fire was declared out and firefighters were clear of the scene.
Region 3 Forest Rangers also responded to three small wildfires recently in Sullivan, Westchester, and Putnam counties. The largest was about five acres in size.
In an effort to reduce the number of spring brush fires, New York State's residential brush burning ban is in effect starting today, Mar. 16, through May 14. For more information, go to DEC's website.
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Rescue: On Mar. 13 at 6:41 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 27-year-old subject from Rochester suffering from a sore knee while hiking to Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker did not have a headlamp or flashlight and reported that his four friends hiked out ahead of him. Just before 10 p.m., at Marcy Dam, Forest Ranger Sabo made contact with the hiker and two friends who had turned back to help him. Ranger Sabo and the hikers arrived back at the Loj parking lot at 11:16 p.m. and reunited the hikers with their group.
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Recovery: On Mar. 14 at 1:30 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance from Greene County 911 for a report of an unresponsive hiker on the Becker Hollow trail near the summit of Hunter Mountain. Forest Rangers from Regions 3 and 4 responded to assist. Two Rangers hiked to the location of the 62-year-old man, who was deceased. Additional Rangers on the scene used snowmobiles to access the summit of the mountain using the state truck trail from the Spruceton trailhead. The Rangers then hiked one-half mile in to bring rescue gear and equipment to the rescuers. Due to steep and icy trail conditions, Rangers utilized rope systems and a stretcher (sked) on the technical descent down the Becker Hollow Trail. Rescuers were back at the Becker Hollow trailhead at 11 p.m., and the subject was turned over to the Greene County coroner. Rangers were clear of the scene at 11:30 p.m. Additional agencies involved include DEC's Division of Law Enforcement and New York State Police.
State DEC staff continue to serve in leadership roles at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the state. For information about efforts to vaccinate New Yorkers and to check eligibility for vaccinations, go to the New York State Department of Health's COVID-19 Vaccine website (leaves DEC website).
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hike Smart NY, Adirondack Backcountry Information, and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.