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."

Pine Bush Preserve
Albany County
Prescribed Burn:
On Nov. 8, Forest Rangers Jackson and Donegan, joined by DEC and Albany Pine Bush staff and volunteers, participated in a prescribed fire at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The prescribed fire burned 21 acres of pitch pine scrub oak barrens to reduce litter and duff, top-kill woody shrub vegetation, reduce mowing slash, and expose mineral soil for warm season grasses such as wild blue lupine.

Forest Rangers monitor a fire on the edge of a trail in the woods
Prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Forest Rangers in a field on the edge of woods during a prescribed fire, smoke can be seen in the background
Prescribed burn at Albany Pine Bush Preserve

Town of Pleasant Valley
Dutchess County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 10 at 7:30 a.m., Central Dispatch received a call from Dutchess County 911 regarding an injured hiker in his 50s at the Taconic Hereford Multiple Use Area. Ranger Sweeney determined the hiker from Hyde Park had stepped on a machete while getting out of his hammock the night before and as a result had lost a significant amount of blood. Responders included Rangers Sweeney and Cowart, Pleasant Valley Fire and EMS, Unionvale Fire and EMS, and New York State Police. Rescuers transported the hiker out of the woods via UTV to a Mobile Life Support ambulance. Resources were clear at 10:15 a.m.

Town of Liberty
Sullivan County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 11 at 1:30 p.m., Ranger Stratton heard a radio call for a 73-year-old who had fallen out of a tree stand while hunting. Ranger Stratton reached the hunter and transported him out of the woods via ATV. At 3:30 p.m., the hunter was flown via LifeNet to Westchester Medical Center.

Village of Lake Placid
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Nov. 12 at 12:55 p.m., Central Dispatch received a call from Franklin County 911 regarding a distressed hiker. At 1:24 p.m., the hiker was with Caretaker Bastian at the Lake Colden interior outpost. Forest Rangers Evans and Bode helped the hiker down to Marcy Dam at 3:45 p.m. At 5:44 p.m., the hiker was turned over to Lake Placid Ambulance and taken to the hospital for further treatment.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of hikers from New Jersey who became separated on Esther Mountain. Rangers Curcio, Evans, and Martin responded. At 11:18 p.m., Rangers found the missing hiker, assisted her out of the woods, and transported the subject to her vehicle at 12:45 a.m.

Town of Fine
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Search:
On Nov. 15 at 9:49 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office requesting Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a 75-year-old hunter who had not returned from hunting earlier that day. Rangers Morehouse, Hanno, Shea, Hogan, and Baldwin were joined in the search by members of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, State Police, and Star Lake Fire and Ambulance. At 12:39 a.m., Ranger Hanno followed the sound of a voice and found the hunter three-tenths of a mile from his home. The hunter was hypothermic and couldn't move and responders could not find the subject's UTV and cane. Rangers carried the hunter out in a litter to Star Lake Ambulance at 1:33 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.

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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