DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

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DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 12/24 - 12/30/18

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 the backcountry.

In 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 tickets or arrests.

"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Town of Hunter
Greene County
On Dec. 24 at 11 a.m., a 60-year-old male went for an off-trail hike on Round Top Mountain. During the hike, the subject became disoriented when he encountered a snowmobile trail that goes around the other side of the mountain. He was unsure which way to go and requested 911 assistance. Ranger Robert Dawson made contact with the subject and requested that he stay where he was on the trail. Forest Rangers Dawson and Chris DiCintio hiked in, located the subject, and walked him out to his vehicle by 5 p.m.

Town of Keene
Essex County
On Dec. 27 at 10:58 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 50-year-old male who sustained injuries from a nearly 45-foot fall while ice climbing the Pitchoff North Tendonitis Route. Companions lowered the subject to safety with belay ropes and requested an evacuation and medical assistance. Lt. Chris Kostoss and eight Forest Rangers were dispatched to the scene and began hiking in to the subject. The Rangers reached the subject and stabilized him in a full body splint. He was carried out to a waiting off-road vehicle and transferred to a waiting Lake Placid Ambulance. By 2 p.m., the fallen hiker was transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac for treatment.

Town of Crawford
Orange County
On Dec. 29 at 1:07 p.m., Crawford Police Department contacted DEC's Central Dispatch to request Forest Ranger assistance in a search for a missing 79-year-old diabetic male with dementia. The subject has a history of walking off and was last seen the previous evening around midnight. Ten Forest Rangers and several local agencies began the search but ended the day without finding the subject. Search efforts resumed the following morning at daybreak, and at 1:30 p.m., the subject was located by a search crew in an abandoned house. He was transported to Orange Regional Medical Center by a local volunteer ambulance unit.

Town of Barre
Orleans County
On Dec. 29 at 1:30 p.m., the Orleans County Sheriff's Department requested assistance from Ranger Daniel Cordell to search for a 71-year-old male with Alzheimer's. The subject was last seen at his residence the night before at 7 p.m. Eight Forest Rangers assisted the search effort along with state, local, and volunteer groups. In addition, New York State Police Aviation, K-9, and dive teams were utilized, as well as drones from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and DEC Forest Rangers. On Dec. 30 at 10 a.m., a State Police dive team found the missing man deceased in a pond 750 feet west of his residence. The Orleans County Sheriff's Office is continuing the investigation.

Town of Keene
Essex County
On Dec. 30 at 9:34 a.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a direct call from a hiker on the Ridge Trail of Giant Mountain reporting that their hiking partner, a 38-year-old male, had slipped on the ice and fallen 30 feet down a cliff, sustaining back injuries. The subject was mobile and attempting to hike back to the trailhead. Ranger Robbi Mecus responded to the Ridge trailhead and began hiking in to locate the injured hiker. Rangers Scott Van Laer and Megan McCone were staged at the trailhead with rescue equipment to assist if needed. Ranger Mecus located the subject 1/4 mile above the Giant Washbowl. The hiker was in significant pain but cleared of spinal cord injuries and able to walk back to the trailhead under his own power, reaching the trailhead by 12:27 p.m. The hiker was transported by Keene Valley EMS to the hospital in Elizabeth for further care.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
At 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 30, a call came in to Ray Brook Dispatch through Warren County 911 from a pair of lost hikers on Cat Mountain along the Lake George Land Conservancy Trails. The couple had found themselves off-trail with no headlamps. The pair's cell phones had limited battery power, and with darkness setting in, they called for Forest Ranger assistance. Under the direction of Lt. Brian Dubay, Forest Rangers Evan Donegan and Nancy Ganswindt headed to the trailhead near Edgecomb Pond. Ranger Donegan linked up with the subjects at 7:50 p.m., and they were soon back at the trailhead with no injuries.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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Basil Seggos, Commissioner

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