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 Fabius
Onondaga County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct. 4 at 7:40 p.m., Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Damrath contacted DEC's Central Dispatch after hearing radio traffic from Onondaga County reporting a missing 48-year-old in the Highland Forest County Park. The subject was collecting mushrooms with his sister-in-law when they became separated at approximately 6 p.m., and he was still unaccounted for after sunset. A family member contacted 911. Onondaga County Park Rangers, Onondaga County Sheriff's Office, Fabius, Apulia, Pompey Hill, and Delphi Falls fire departments, and Onondaga and Oswego County Search and Rescue teams all responded. Forest Ranger Chappell responded and documented all resources on scene and their assignments. While assisting the Fabius Fire Chief with plans, a search crew from the Apulia Fire Department located the man in the park at 9:18 p.m. The subject was taken to the command post where he was evaluated by paramedics, treated for hypothermia, and reunited with his family. Responders were clear at 9:50 p.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 6 at 10:11 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker who reporter another hiker with an ankle injury on Giant Mountain in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area. The caller stated that the injured hiker was less than a half-mile up the trail. Forest Rangers Lewis, Curcio, Martin, and Sabo responded to assist. Ranger Lewis made contact with New York State Police Trooper Mendelsohn, who was flagged down and was with the 54-year-old hiker from Saratoga Springs about three-tenths of a mile in on the trail. While Ranger Lewis hiked in, Rangers Martin and Sabo retrieved a litter and backpack carriers from the Keene Valley Fire Department and brought them to the injured hiker's location. Rangers stabilized the injury and packaged her in the litter for carry out. Once out of the woods, the hiker declined additional medical treatment. Resources were clear of the scene at 12:11 a.m.

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 7 at 2 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the wife of a sick kayaker on Cranberry Lake. The caller reported that her husband was suffering from the effects of possible food poisoning. Director Solan and Forest Ranger Benzel responded via boat. At 3:12 p.m., Director Solan and Ranger Benzel assisted the 61-year-old from Long Island with his belongings and gave him and his companions a courtesy ride off the water and back to their vehicle. At 4:14 p.m., the group was back at the dock where Rangers rehydrated the kayaker.

Town of Cincinnatus
Cortland County
Rope Rescue Training:
On Oct. 7 and 8, Forest Rangers conducted rope rescue training at Gee Brook State Forest. The training focused on setting up Dual Capability Two Tension Rope Systems in a moderate angle location.

rangers training with ropes
Rangers training with rope systems.
rangers training with ropes
Rangers Snyder, Staples, and Virkler at rope rescue training.
Town of Colonie
Albany County
Public Outreach:
On Oct. 8, Forest Ranger Mitchell participated in an annual open house hosted by Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department. Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, New York State Fire, New York State Police, LifeNet, Albany International Airport Fire Department, Albany County Sheriff's Office, Colonie Police, and Colonie EMS were also present. Ranger Mitchell provided information on how to become a Forest Ranger, a Ranger's duties and responsibilities, equipment and gear, and hiking and recreation safety.

ranger
Ranger Mitchell at open house.
Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct 9, at 6:30 pm, Greene County 911 contacted Forest Rangers for assistance with two lost hikers from Brooklyn at Kaaterskill High Peak. Rangers Dawson and Gullen responded. The hikers were on an ambitious day hike covering 12 miles, leaving them without headlamps after dark. As Rangers hiked in, they received calls about two other hiking groups needing assistance on the Becker Hollow trail at Hunter Mountain and on the Long Path near Platte Clove Road, also due to darkness and hikers not having lights. Rangers Ellis and Martin responded to search for these groups, while Rangers Gullen and Dawson proceeded to bush whack in to locate the Brooklyn hikers approximately one mile in on the trail. Ranger Dawson hiked the group out while Ranger Gullen proceeded to locate the other hiking groups. Ranger Gullen made contact with the lost hikers on the Long Path and determined this group was able to hike out with the use of cell phone lights. Rangers Martin and Ellis responded to Becker Hollow. As they prepared to hike in, the separated members of the hiking group came out to the trailhead. All three search calls were concluded at 9:15 p.m.

Town of Caroga
Fulton County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct. 9 at 7:18 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Fulton County 911 about a 34-year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter lost on Kane Mountain in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. The hiker reportedly went up an old, closed trail and was on the way down when it got dark. Ranger Thompson located the two hikers and assisted them back to their car by 8:30 p.m.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Boater Rescue:
On Oct 9 at 8:06 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by Big Moose Fire Department requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a stranded boat on the Stillwater Reservoir in Independence River Wild Forest. The two boaters from Oriskany were reportedly in good health but stranded north of Beaver River. Rangers Lee and Hanno, along with a Webb Police Officer, took a boat approximately seven miles down the reservoir toward Beaver River Station. At 10 p.m., the stranded boat was spotted near shoals in the boat channel. The two boaters were unfamiliar with the reservoir and were having trouble navigating the boat using only a cell phone flashlight. They were able to follow the rescue boat back to the boat launch area by 11:30 p.m.

Town of Mooers
Clinton County
Wilderness Search:
On Oct. 10 at 9 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Plattsburgh Police Department requesting assistance with a 60-year-old hiker from Albany lost near the Gulf Unique Area. Ranger Black responded along with the New York State Police (NYSP) and NYSP K9. Troopers conducted a search of the trail with the K9. Ranger Black, with the assistance of a local landowner, located the hiker at 11:30 p.m. The hiker was in good condition and escorted out of the woods at 11:59 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 10, at 6:10 p.m., Greene County 911 requested Ranger assistance at Kaaterskill Falls for a report of a 40-year-old hiker with a head injury. Ranger Gullen responded and located the hiker. Ranger Gullen provided first aid and assisted the subject to the trailhead. The hiker refused additional medical care.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 11, at 4:20 p.m. hikers called Greene County 911 to request medical assistance for a 70-year-old hiker experiencing a heart-related problem two miles in on the Huckleberry Point Trail. Rangers Dawson, Fox, Gullen, and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) France responded, along with Tannersville Rescue and a Greene County paramedic. Tannersville drove the paramedic in by UTV most of the distance, with a short hike at the end to reach the hiker. A Ranger truck was staged a mile in for communication relay and to provide additional resources. The hiker was evaluated by the paramedic and able to walk out to the UTV. The hiker and rescuers were driven out to the Kaaterskill High Peak trailhead where the subject was further evaluated by Hunter Ambulance EMS. At 6:45 p.m., the hiker declined further medical attention.

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.

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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