ALBANY, NY — 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 Webb
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 7 at 7 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance to locate two lost hikers. Call coordinates placed the hikers in a swamp north of the Limekiln Campground. Forest Rangers Scott and McCartney responded to the campground, and at 8:55 p.m., Ranger Scott located the 55-year-old and 63-year-old hikers from Herkimer and Mohawk approximately half a mile north of the campground. The Ranger proceeded to walk the women out, and at 10:47 p.m., the group was back at the campground and clear of the scene.
Town of Waverly
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 2 at 3:50 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 73-year-old hiker reporting she had fallen on Azure Mountain in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. The hiker from Fairport said her hip hurt and she was unable to stand. Forest Rangers Milano and DiCintio responded. With the help of the Saint Regis Fire Department, the Rangers returned the hiker back to the trailhead where she received additional medical attention. All units were cleared at 5:39 p.m.
Town of Newcomb
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 2 at 3 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received notification from the Mount Marcy Summit Steward of a sick hiker in the Flowed Lands lean-to. The hiker was part of a group and was last seen at 10 a.m. The sick hiker was reported to have been left with two others while the remaining portion of the group hiked Mount Marcy. At 6:58 p.m., Lake Colden Caretaker Kelly and Assistant Fire Ranger Adams started walking the 18-year-old hiker from Pennsylvania out of the woods. Forest Rangers were on standby with a wheeled litter at the trailhead in case the rescue became a carryout. At 9:20 p.m., rescuers and the hiker were out of the woods and clear of the scene.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 2 at 3:05 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from passing hikers that there was a woman with a possible broken ankle about a mile in from the parking lot. Forest Rangers Lewis and Mecus responded to evaluate the injured hiker. At 3:45 p.m., Ranger Mecus arrived on scene, splinted the injury, and began walking the 63-year-old hiker from Ohio out of the woods. At 6 p.m., Ranger Mecus and the hiker arrived back at the trailhead where the hiker indicated she would seek medical attention on her own.
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 3 at 7:33 p.m., Forest Ranger Lewis advised DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch that while patrolling Marcy Dam in the High Peaks Wilderness Area, he happened upon a group with an injured hiker. The hiker sustained a non-weight-bearing ankle injury. Ranger Lewis assisted with carrying the eight-year-old from Massachusetts back to the parking lot. At 9 p.m., the hiker and his group were back at the Adirondak Loj parking lot where they advised they would see further medical assistance on their own.
Hamlet of Ridge
Community Event: On Aug. 3, Forest Ranger Hicks participated in National Night Out. The event to help promote community-police relationships was held by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. Ranger Hicks educated attendees on Forest Ranger responsibilities and requirements to become a Forest Ranger. Along with Suffolk County Central Pine Barrens Commission staff, attendees learned about previous and upcoming prescribed fire operations, as well as work underway to combat the invasive pest Southern Pine Beetle. The most popular feature of the night was the opportunity for children and their parents to meet Smokey Bear, just one week shy of their 77th birthday.
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 4 at 12:15 am., DEC Central Dispatch received a report of a hiker on the KIondike Trail needing assistance due to a knee injury. At 3:30 a.m., Forest Ranger Quinn located the 33-year-old hiker from Saranac Lake and provided first aid for the injury. Forest Rangers Milano, Arnold, DiCintio, and Curcio responded to help with the carryout. At 11 a.m., the hiker was back at the trailhead and declined further medical attention.
Town of Rockland
Campground Enforcement: On Aug. 7, Forest Rangers were dispatched to a request from Mongaup Pond Campground staff to assist with the eviction of two groups of problem campers. Campground staff issued several warnings to the groups about disturbing other campers but were unsuccessful getting the campers to comply with campground rules. Forest Rangers Parlier and Martin arrived at the campground to assist with evicting the two groups. Rangers issued tickets to the group leaders for violating the conditions of their permits. The two groups left the campground without further incident.
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 7 at 1 p.m., Forest Rangers and local EMS personnel responded to the Upper Falls trail at Kaaterskill Falls for a report of a 43-year-old man from Syracuse experiencing chest pain and trouble breathing. Forest Ranger Jackson quickly located the hiker, provided first aid, and determined the hiker required a carryout. Forest Ranger Dawson and Assistant Forest Ranger France, along with a Greene County paramedic ambulance staff and the Hunter Police Department, responded to assist with a wheeled litter. Rangers and rescuers brought the subject up the mountain slope through a series of steps to a waiting Hunter Ambulance at the Laurel House trailhead. The man was transported to a local hospital for further care and rescuers were clear of the scene at 2:30 p.m.