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 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 North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Aug. 30 at 11:52 a.m., Forest Rangers Evans and Lewis responded to a dropped 911 call reporting a 60-year-old man from Missouri had suffered a knee injury on the Jackrabbit Trail. The Rangers responded to the location, splinted the subject's leg, and evacuated him using a UTV. By 2:30 p.m., Rangers had returned the subject to the trailhead and transferred him to Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Squad.

Towns of Ardsley and Mamaroneck
Westchester County
Flood Response:
On Sept. 1, a Type 3 swiftwater rescue team consisting of six Forest Rangers, a rigid inflatable boat, and a support trailer were deployed to support the statewide response to Tropical Depression Ida. This highly trained and experienced team worked through the night and into the early morning hours of Sept. 2 with local first responders to conduct multiple rescues that saved 86 people from flood waters.

Rangers driving raft with rescued flood victims to safety
Rangers rescue residents from Tropical Depression Ida flooding

Rangers navigating flood waters at night in a raft
Rangers rescue residents from Tropical Depression Ida flooding

Rangers helping flood victims out the front door of a building, water is chest-high
Rangers rescue residents from Tropical Depression Ida flooding

Rangers moving down long, flooded hallway to rescue residents
Rangers rescue residents from Tropical Depression Ida flooding

Rangers carry small child out of door onto raft
Rangers rescue residents from Tropical Depression Ida flooding

Rangers helping flood victim down fire escape
Rangers rescue residents from Tropical Depression Ida flooding

Town of Orange
Schuyler County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 1 at 9 a.m., Schuyler County 911 notified Forest Ranger Roberts about a search for a missing 19-year-old woman from Beaver Dams. Ranger Roberts responded to the scene where he interviewed the young person's mother and started conducting linear searches along frequented trails. Utilizing additional information collected from cell phone data, Ranger Roberts and two Schuyler County Sheriff's Deputies pinpointed the subject's location. The search group located the young woman as she was experiencing a significant medical event that required immediate medical attention and she was carried out of the woods and transferred to Schuyler Ambulance for transport to a local hospital. All resources were clear of the scene by 1:05 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 4 at 1:45 p.m., Essex County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a report of a 31-year-old woman from Cobleskill in medical distress after being stung by bees at Owen Pond. Forest Ranger Mecus responded and helped the subject out of the woods. At 2:30 p.m., the woman was transported to a local hospital.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 4 at 2:40 p.m., Forest Rangers Martin and Rusher received a call from Ulster County 911 reporting an injured 26-year-old hiker in the vicinity of Slide Mountain. Rangers made contact with the hiker who reported he had suffered a knee injury and couldn't hike out. The subject was at the summit of Wittenberg Mountain, approximately five miles and 3,000 vertical feet from the nearest trailhead. Forest Rangers Stratton and Rusher, along with a New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation and a Special Operations Response Team (SORT) Medic, were transported to the hiker's location. The responders were inserted to provide first aid and package the injured man for extrication, while Ranger Cowart and a SORT member assisted with the hoist in the helicopter. As the aviation plan was ongoing, Rangers Kreft and Martin secured resources for a potential carry-out in case the hoist mission was canceled. The hiker from Boston was successfully hoisted off the mountain and transported to the landing zone where an ambulance was staged. The hiker declined further medical treatment and responders were clear of the scene at 6:51 p.m. In addition to NYSP Aviation and SORT, assisting agencies included Phoenicia Fire Department, Woodstock Fire Department, Woodstock EMT, Shandaken EMT, and Catskill Mountain Search and Rescue.

Rescued hiker dangling from helicopter after rescue
Rangers rescue hiker from Wittenberg Mountain

Ranger loading hiker to be lifted to helicopter through trees
Rangers rescue hiker from Wittenberg Mountain

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 4 at 7:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of hikers at the Roaring Brook Falls trailhead reporting that their friend was overdue from a hike on Giant Mountain. The group last saw the subject at the base of the falls about an hour and a half earlier. Forest Rangers Bode and Lewis responded to assist. At 9:17 p.m., Ranger Bode located the 18-year-old hiker from Oswego. The subject became lost off trail and was unable to find the trail again before dark. Ranger Bode escorted the hiker back to the parking lot where he was reunited with the group. All units were clear of the incident at 10 p.m.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
State Land Protection:
On Sept. 4 at approximately 8:33 p.m., DEC's Raybrook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 advising of an unattended campfire near the summit of Bald Mountain in the Fulton Chain Wild Forest. Forest Ranger McCartney responded and located a father and son illegally camped in the vicinity of the fire tower. Ranger McCartney observed their campfire burning into a nearby stump and roots, contributing to a small ground fire. Discarded beer cans were observed in and around the campfire. Ranger McCartney extinguished the fire with water and hand tools. Tickets were issued for camping within 150 feet of a trail and for depositing waste on State Land. Ranger McCartney returned the following morning and declared the fire out by 11:30 a.m.

Town of Warwick
Orange County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 5 at 3:48 p.m., Orange County 911 contacted DEC Dispatch reporting a 27-year-old hiker from New York City with an unstable ankle injury on the Appalachian Trail near Greenwood Lake. Forest Ranger Allwine responded along with Warwick and Greenwood Lake fire departments, the Town of Warwick Police, and Warwick Volunteer Ambulance. Fire and EMS members each had a UTV in the woods travelling toward the hiker from different directions. At one point, the trail became impassable by UTV, so rescuers continued on foot. Once the responders made contact with the injured woman, Ranger Allwine and two fire department members assisted with carrying out the hiker to a waiting UTV. Back at the trailhead, the woman was transferred to Warwick Volunteer Ambulance for transport to a local hospital. All resources were clear of the scene at 7:18 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 6 at 2:55 p.m., Forest Ranger Fox responded to a report that a 67-year-old woman from Westhampton Beach had slipped and fallen on the Huckleberry Point Trail in the Kaaterskill Wild Forest area. The hiker was 2.5 miles from the trailhead, accompanied by family members. Rangers Fox and Seeley, along with Assistant Forest Ranger France, responded to assist. Once on scene, Rangers provided basic first aid for a scrape and bruise on the subject's face and stabilized her injured left shoulder in a sling. Rangers then assisted the woman out of the woods. Once back at the trailhead, the hiker declined additional medical care stating she would seek treatment on her own. All resources were clear of the scene at 8:14 p.m.

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.

If a person needs a Forest Ranger, whether it's for a search and rescue, to report a wildfire, or to report illegal activity on State lands and easements, they should call 833-NYS-RANGERS. If a person needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a Forest Ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for every Ranger listed by region.

https://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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