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 Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 19 at 10:10 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from Ulster County 911 reporting a 69-year-old hiker from Pine Plains who became separated from his party while hiking down Wittenberg Mountain on the Red Trail towards the Woodland Valley Parking Lot. Forest Rangers Martin and Franceschina responded to assist. At 11:45 p.m., Ranger Martin located the hiker just off the trail and escorted him out of the woods. They arrived back at the trailhead at 1:30 a.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
While hiking on her day off on Sept. 20, Forest Ranger Temple encountered a hiker from Florida who sustained a lower leg injury near the summit of Indian Head on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. Ranger Temple contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch at 1:45 p.m. requesting additional Ranger assistance as well as New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation due to the severity of the injury to the 53-year-old woman's leg. Six Forest Rangers responded to her location, along with NYSP Aviation, and at 3:30 p.m., the injured hiker was hoisted into the helicopter and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. Resources were out of the woods and clear of the scene at 4:15 p.m.

Ranger helps hiker as they're lifted out of the woods with a leg injury
Hoist rescue near the summit of Indian Head

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 20 at 9:42 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from a group of hikers reporting two members of their party were overdue from hiking Giant Mountain. They were last seen at 6:45 p.m. on the trail headed towards Roaring Brook Falls and reportedly only had food and their cell phones with them. Forest Rangers Quinn and Evans responded to assist. At 10:15 p.m., Ranger Quinn arrived on scene determined the two women from Syracuse were last seen at the ladder section below the junction of the ridge trail. Neither hiker had any lights and their cellphones were dead. At 11:10 p.m., Ranger Quinn found the hikers approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. He provided them with headlamps and escorted them back down the mountain where they met Ranger Evans, who was searching another section of the trail. At 12:01 a.m., the hikers were reunited with their group.

Town of Wells
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 21 at 1:20 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 69-year-old hiker from Albany fell and struck her head on the Auger Falls Trail. Forest Ranger Miller along with Lt. Kerr and the Town of Wells Fire and EMS responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Rangers and EMS walked the hiker out of the woods to the trailhead where she was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. Resources were clear of the scene at 2:30 p.m.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 21 at 1 p.m., Forest Ranger Lt. Ashida heard over the radio that a 38-year-old injured hiker off Woodland Valley Campground contacted Ulster County 911 and needed Forest Ranger assistance. The hiker from Stone Ridge fell below Cornell Crack in Slide Wilderness and believed he broke his leg just above the ankle. Forest Rangers Slade and Kreft responded to Parish Field in Phoenicia to set up a command post and develop a plan for extrication. Due to the hiker's remote location, a request for New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was also made. At 3 p.m., Ranger Slade was picked up by NYSP Aviation and was inserted about a third of a mile from the injured hiker's location. Once at the hiker's location, Ranger Slade assessed his injuries while Ranger Kreft coordinated the second insertion of Rangers and rope gear, while also planning for a possible carryout with assistance from Rangers Ellis, Pries, Dawson, Martin, and Franceschina. Due to the low cloud cover and terrain, the hiker needed to be packaged in a litter and carried to a lower point to be hoisted out. Rangers Jahn and Franke were then inserted with a litter and additional gear necessary for the carry out. Once the hiker was packaged in the wheeled litter, Rangers transported him 250 vertical feet down to the extraction point. At 6:30 p.m., the hoist was completed and the hiker was flown to Kingston Airport where he was met by a Mobile Life Support Services Ambulance. He declined additional medical transportation and was driven by his mother to a local hospital. Rangers packed up the excess gear and proceeded back down the mountain. Resources were clear of the scene at 12:36 a.m. Many thanks to NYSP Aviation, NYSP Special Operations Response Team (SORT), Phoenicia Fire Department, Shandaken EMS, Shandaken Police Department, and Catskill Mountain Search and Rescue for helping with this mission.

Visit DEC's YouTube page for video of the rescue.

Ranger looking upwards in woods during rescue
Hoist rescue in Shandaken

Forest Rangers loading hiker into helicopter
Hoist rescue in Shandaken

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 23 at 3:32 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 74-year-old hiker from New Jersey advising that he became disoriented coming off of Wright Peak in the High Peaks Wilderness and was not sure how to get back to the Adirondak Loj. At 4:58 p.m., Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Leff found the hiker at the junction for Wright and Algonquin mountains. The hiker thought he was hiking Wright Peak, but was actually on Algonquin. While on the summit, a passing group of hikers pointed him in the right direction. At 7:20 p.m., AFR Leff escorted the hiker out of the woods and back to the Adirondak Loj.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Community Event:
On Sept. 25, Forest Ranger Lt. Pachan participated in an Earth Day/21 event hosted by the Mountain Top Progressives' (MTP) at the Rip Van Winkle Park in the village of Tannersville. This event was rescheduled from April due to the pandemic. Keynote speakers at the event included Senator Michelle Hinchey, Assemblyman Chris Tague, and members of the county legislature. Lt. Pachan provided information about a Forest Ranger's career, including job duties and responsibilities. He also had a display featuring the 10 hiking essentials that should be carried on all hikes for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Forest Ranger and Senator stand at informational table under a large pavillion
Lt. Pachan and Senator Hinchey at an Earth Day/21 event

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 25 at 1:18 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance for a 53-year-old man from Boston, New York, with a hip injury on Algonquin Peak. Assistant Forest Ranger Leff and Marcy Dam Caretaker Engel responded to the location, along with Forest Rangers Mecus and Curcio with a six-wheeler. Once on scene, Rangers performed a medical evaluation, found the injury to be non-weight bearing, and requested NYSP Aviation for extrication. At 4:50 p.m., NYSP Aviation arrived on scene with Forest Ranger Benzel acting as crew chief and the hoist mission was completed. The injured hiker was transported to a local hospital and all units were clear of the incident at 7:15 p.m. Link to DEC video of the rescue on DEC's YouTube page .

Town of Warrensburg
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 25 at 1:45 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance for a 60-year-old man from Lake Luzerne who rolled his ATV on Wilderness Way off Vielle Pond Road. Forest Rangers Kabrehl and Quinn responded along with the Warrensburg Fire Department and EMS. At 3:15 p.m., Rangers, fire department personnel, and the rider's friends packaged him up and carried him out of the woods to an awaiting ambulance to be transported to a local hospital.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 25 at 7:48 p.m. Greene County 911 contacted Central Dispatch regarding a call they received from two lost hikers. The caller's information was relayed to Forest Ranger Lt. Pachan who contacted the hikers. The hikers were panicking because their cell phone was their only source of light and it was running out of power. Lt. Pachan advised the hikers to stay where they were and to text the coordinates of their current location and their vehicle description. Lt. Pachan then plotted the coordinates on a map, putting their location near the intersection of the Devil's Path and the Overlook trail. Lt. Pachan contacted Forest Ranger Fox to assist. Ranger Fox located the 39-year-old man and 37-year-old woman from New Jersey approximately three quarters of a mile from the trailhead. Ranger Fox gave them flashlights and escorted them out of the woods. They made it back to their vehicles at 10:45 p.m.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Search:
On Sept. 25 at 9 p.m., Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Krug advised DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch that Washington County 911 contacted him requesting assistance with a search for a 37-year-old man and his 12-year-old daughter. The pair from Fort Ann were overdue from riding an ATV. ECO Krug contacted Forest Ranger St. Claire who was responding to assist him and ECO Goodrich with the search. The riders were located roadside by a passing motorist around 11:30 p.m. A patrol unit picked them up and brought them back to the command post at 12:24 a.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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