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 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.
“DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York’s wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The State’s brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service.”
Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 6 at 9:26 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call for an injured hiker on the Cranberry Lake 50 trail. The caller stated that her 14-year-old son pulled his Achilles tendon and could not continue the hike. The group was on the east side of Brandy Brook Flow on Cranberry Lake and Forest Ranger Baldwin responded by boat. Ranger Baldwin arrived to the hiking party by 10:06 a.m., and transported the group by boat to shore shortly thereafter. The injured hiker from Plattsburgh declined further medical care at the scene and advised he would seek medical attention on his own.
Town of Hunter – Kaaterskill Wild Forest
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 3 at 11:54 a.m., Forest Rangers received a call from DEC’s Central Dispatch regarding a 39-year-old man from Croton-on-Hudson who slipped while hiking the escarpment trail near the Artist Rock and heard a snap in his ankle. Forest Rangers Fox, Breigle, and Assistant Forest Ranger France responded along with Greene County EMS and volunteers from the Haines Falls, Cedar Grove, and Tannersville fire departments. The responders packed the hiker in a litter and carried him out to a waiting ambulance for transport to a local hospital. The incident concluded by 2:30 p.m.
Town of Waverly
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 5 at 4 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting that his wife had injured her ankle about a half mile from the trailhead of Azure Mountain. Forest Ranger Lt. Harjung responded along with Forest Rangers Balerno and Evans, the St. Regis Falls Fire Department, and EMS. Once on scene, Lt. Harjung splinted the injury and the group started slowly making their way down the trail. The injured hiker was able to get down off the steeper slope with the assistance of hiking poles and leaning on the shoulders of rescuers. The responders then placed the subject in a litter and carried her the remainder of the way to the trailhead. The hiker declined additional medical treatment and said she would seek treatment on her own.
Town of Shandaken – Slide Wilderness Area
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 5 at 4:30 p.m., a 32-year-old woman from Bellmawr, New Jersey, hiking the red trail to the summit of Wittenburg Mountain called Ulster County 911 requested assistance off the mountain due to a pre-existing medical condition that made it difficult for her to walk. Forest Rangers Martin, Brand, Griggsby, and Rusher responded to GPS coordinates that placed her three miles from the trailhead. Rangers assisted the subject for the first mile back, but her condition deteriorated rapidly, requiring a carryout. Volunteers from the Phoenecia, Olive, Pine Hill, and Shandaken fire departments provided resources to assist Rangers with carrying the hiker out of the woods. At 1:30 a.m., the hiker was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 5 at 4:07 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request to assist 22-year-old woman from Glenridge, New Jersey, who sustained a non-weight-bearing leg injury a half mile below the Hopkins Junction on Mount Marcy. Forest Rangers and the Mt. Marcy Summit Steward responded to assist. The Steward reached the subject at 4:45 p.m., with Forest Ranger Mecus arriving shortly thereafter to help assess and stabilize the injury. The group then began slowly making their way to Marcy Dam. At 8:53 p.m., Forest Ranger Mecus advised that they had made it to Indian Falls and the injured hiker was unable to continue. Forest Rangers Praczkajlo, Lewis, van Laer, DiCinitio, Assistant Ranger Engel, and the Marcy Dam Caretaker responded to help. At 11:20 p.m., the hiker was driven out from Marcy Dam to Meadows Lane on a waiting UTV. A friend picked up the hiker and advised they would seek further medical assistance on their own.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 5 at 8:27 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received notification from Forest Rangers engaged in another rescue on Mount Marcy that they had encountered a hiker suffering from back spasms and in need of assistance. Forest Ranger Bode responded and assisted the 43-year-old hiker from Farmingdale down the trail to the Marcy Dam outpost where she received a ride back to the trailhead on a waiting UTV. The injured hiker advised she would seek further medical attention on her own.
Town of Deerpark
Wildland Fire: On Sept. 5, Orange County 911 requested the assistance of Forest Ranger Parlier with a wildland fire on private property in the town of Deerpark. The unattended brush fire had spread and was later contained to approximately two acres through the use of an excavator the landowner had on site and the assistance of the Cuddeback, Huguenot, Otisville, Westbrookville, Sparrowbrush, and Port Jervis fire departments. The fire was declared out at approximately 3:45 p.m.
Town of Hunter – Indian Head Wilderness Area- Plattekill Clove
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 6 at 9 p.m., a group of nine hikers called Greene County 911 reporting they were lost due to darkness and cliffs near the creek in Plattekill Clove. Forest Rangers Dawson, Fox, Breigle, and Slade responded to assist. The Rangers made voice contact with the hikers and bushwhacked to their location through steep terrain. Rangers utilized rope systems to assist the hikers up the steep terrain and back up to the road. All were out of the woods by 4:18 a.m.
Town of Tompkins – Steam Mill State Forest
Law Enforcement: On Sept. 6, Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Osborne contacted Forest Ranger Seeley to inform him about a tip he received about a party planned that night in Steam Mill State Forest. The Officers formulated a plan for Rangers Seeley, Bink, and ECO Osborne to patrol the area to look for the group. The Rangers and ECO located the party at 11:30 p.m. and discovered approximately 40 people around a large bonfire with a lot of alcohol. The Officers collected identification from the attendees and instructed the group to clean up the beer cans and put the fire out. The Rangers and ECO issued a total of 32 tickets to individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 for possessing alcohol under the age of 21 on State land. Ranger Seeley then administered a breath test with an Intoximeter to anyone who planned on driving to ensure their safety. Those who could not drive could leave their vehicles for the night and received rides from sober attendees. The incident concluded at 4:30 a.m.
Hamlet of Kauneonga Lake
Fire Grants Awarded: The Kauneonga Lake Fire Department in Sullivan County is one of the first of hundreds of rural fire departments to receive a grant through the federal Volunteer Fire Assistance Program. Grants of up to $1,500 provide assistance to rural fire departments for wildfire suppression efforts. The Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program is funded by the U.S. Forest Service and administered by DEC Forest Rangers. Last year, the program provided grants to 371 fire departments across New York State. DEC received a federal appropriation of $583,180 for 2020. Eligible fire departments include those that serve a single town with a population under 10,000, those that serve multiple communities, one of which is a rural town with fewer than 10,000 residents, and fire departments in towns with a population of 10,000 or more that meet requirements. For more information about next year’s applications or additional information about the grant program, contact DEC at (518) 402-8839, write to NYSDEC, Division of Forest Protection, 625 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Albany, NY 12233-2560, or visit the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/
DEC news release Sept. 10, 2020