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 Greece
Monroe County
Public Outreach Event:
On Oct. 18, Forest Ranger Lt. Wickens took part in a collaborative event where DEC teamed up with Rochester Accessible Adventures and Braddock Bay Raptor Research. Held at the town of Greece's Braddock Bay Park, the event introduced people of all ages and abilities to adaptive and inclusive tools that make birding available to everyone. Experts demonstrated how to use spotting scopes, binoculars, monoculars, harnesses, and tripods. The workshop showcased DEC and partner-led efforts to provide recreational opportunities through the Americans with Disabilities Act so more people can enjoy DEC's outdoor programs and activities. More pictures available on DEC's Facebook.

Women holding a bird of prey with a Ranger standing to her right
Lt. Wickens at birding workshop at Braddock Bay Park
a group of birders on a small pier looking out into the river
Birding workshop at Braddock Bay Park
looking at a group of birders on a deck looking out using binoculars.
Birding workshop at Braddock Bay Park
Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 18 at 7:25 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received radio contact from retired Forest Ranger Dell Jeffrey about a lost hunter in the Goodnow Flow. Forest Ranger Sabo responded to that location and located the 62-year-old hunter from Connecticut at 8:45 p.m. Ranger Sabo escorted the subject back out to the road by 9:30 p.m.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 19 at 11:55 a.m., while hiking with a group of 12 to Huckleberry Point, a 64-year-old from Woodside fell on a steep section of trail, injuring their lower left leg. Using hiking poles, the hiker tried to walk out on her own, but was unable to make it. The hiker's companions then called 911. Forest Ranger Dawson responded to the location and requested three additional Rangers to assist with a possible carry-out. Ranger Dawson drove about a mile in and hiked another mile to the injured hiker's location. After Ranger Dawson splinted her leg, the hiker tried to use crutches, but was unsuccessful, so an improvised carry was used to help her up the steep section of trail. Rangers Gullen, Petit, and Mitchell then brought in a wheeled litter and the hiker was packaged for carry-out. The Rangers brought the hiker to the Huckleberry Trail and Long Path juncture, where she was transferred out of the litter to a Ranger truck. From there, the hiker was driven out to the trailhead. She declined further medical care and resources were clear at 5 p.m.

Forest Rangers carrying an injured hiker out of the woods on a one wheeled litter
Rangers Gullen, Dawson, and Petit transporting injured hiker out
of the woods with a wheeled litter
Town of Greig
Lewis County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 22 at 7:03 p.m., Lewis County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance locating an overdue hunter in the Independence River Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Lee and Hanno responded to Partridgeville Road where they met up with two Lewis County Sheriff's Deputies at the scene. After interviewing members of the hunting party, the Rangers determined the 58-year-old hunter from LaFargeville was likely in a half-mile section of woods near the camp. To assist the hiker, one deputy operated a siren from a fixed location while the second deputy drove along a nearby section of highway with emergency lights activated. After approximately 30 minutes, the hunter walked out to the road and where they were met by responders. The subject explained he had hunted this area for nearly 15 years, but became disoriented after dark and didn't have a map, compass, or source of light. Resources were clear at 8:14 p.m.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 23 at 1:50 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance with an 80-year-old man from Albany who became ill while hiking in the Tirrell Pond area. A group of Boy Scouts assisted the hiker to a lean-to. Three Forest Rangers responded with an ATV to assist. Once the Rangers were close enough to the hiker's location, they helped him to the ATV and drove him out of the woods. At 5:10 p.m., the hiker refused further medical assistance.

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 23, a Scout group from Nesconset went for a hike to North Point. At approximately 4 p.m., one of the Scout leaders fell on a rocky section of the Mary's Glen trail, causing a leg injury. The group called Central Dispatch requesting Forest Ranger assistance. Forest Rangers Dawson and Slade responded with Assistant Forest Ranger France. Ranger Dawson hiked in with one of the Scouts and located the 51-year-old hiker approximately 0.8 miles from the trailhead. After splinting the injured leg and treating other minor injuries, Ranger Dawson provided crutches and helped the hiker out of the woods at 7:45 p.m. The subject declined further medical care.

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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