DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review

Recent Statewide 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 2022, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 359 search and rescue missions, extinguished 162 wildfires covering more than 1,300 acres, participated in 53 prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate nearly 900 acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in hundreds of tickets and arrests.

"With more people visiting State lands and enjoying New York's myriad, world-class outdoor recreational opportunities, DEC's Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Each day, these highly trained first responders are protecting irreplaceable natural resources and utilizing their expert knowledge of wildland fire suppression, wilderness first aid, land navigation, law enforcement, and technical rescue techniques to successfully execute critical missions, for DEC and our countless local, state, and national partners."

Town of Fishkill
Dutchess County
Hoist Training:
On March 27, Forest Ranger Hoist Operators Cowart and Gullen inserted Ranger O'Connell and a rescue litter to Ranger Franke on Mount Beacon as part of hoist rescue training. The training provides a realistic simulation of actual rescue conditions in terrain found throughout the region. Rangers worked with New York State Police (NYSP) Pilots Giganti and Plitsch, and Tactical Flight Operator Orcutt. Video of the Mount Beacon hoist training is available at DEC's website.

Aerial view of rangers during hoist training from helicopter
Hoist training at Mount Beacon

View from helicopter of ranger being hoisted down toward the ground below
Hoist training at Mount Beacon

City of Albany and Towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead
Albany and Suffolk Counties
Prescribed Fires:
On March 27 and March 30, Forest Rangers conducted prescribed fires in coordination with the Central Pine Barrens Commission, DEC staff, and wildland fire volunteers. Five and a half acres of land were burned in Clover Field in Brookhaven and 12 acres were burned in Big Field North in Riverhead. On March 29, Forest Rangers joined the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, DEC Emergency Management staff, and other wildland fire volunteers to conduct a prescribed fire in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Approximately 15 acres were burned. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.

Ranger and vehicle seen through smoke during prescribed fire
Prescribed fire in Brookhaven

two rangers monitor prescribed fire
Prescribed fire in Brookhaven

Ranger walks along grassy path and facilitates with prescribed fire
Prescribed fire in Albany Pine Bush

A red trail marker is seen with flames from prescribed fire behind it.
Prescribed fire in Albany Pine Bush

Town of Wawarsing
Ulster County
Wilderness Search:
On March 28, at 9:30 a.m., Forest Ranger Rusher overheard radio traffic about a lost hiker in Shawangunk Ridge State Forest. A 60-year-old from Mamakating had taken his dog for a walk on the Long Path from the Cox Road trailhead and became lost due to heavy fog. The subject called his wife for help before losing his phone. The subject was cold, wet, and disoriented. Rangers O'Connell and Rusher conducted a linear search with Bloomingburg Fire and Cragsmoor Fire Departments. At 11 a.m., the subject made his way to the other side of the ridge on Route 209, approximately four miles from the trailhead. He used a Good Samaritan's phone to contact his wife. The Ulster County Sherriff's Department provided transportation back to the trailhead. Resources were clear at noon.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Law Enforcement:
Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Favreau received a tip about possible illegal maple tapping on State land in the western High Peaks. ECO Favreau turned the tip over to Forest Rangers. On April 1 at 9:30 a.m., Ranger Lieutenant DiCintio investigated and spotted the two suspects with maple tapping equipment. The 26- and 28-year-olds from Saranac Lake were ticketed for defacing a tree on State land.

Tubes from tree leading to white bucket in the snow, collecting sap
Illegal maple tapping

Tree with blue bag and bucket hanging on it, collecting sap.
Illegal maple tapping

Town of Summit
Schoharie County
Ice Rescue:
On April 1 at 12:25 p.m., Forest Ranger France overheard radio traffic from Schoharie County 911 about a subject who had fallen through the ice on a pond while trying to rescue her dog. The subject was believed to have spent about 10 minutes in the water. New York State Police, Schoharie County Sheriff's Department, Summit Fire, and County EMS responded. When Ranger France arrived, rescue crews had pulled the 54-year-old from Summit from the water. Responders performed CPR and then Ranger France assisted with packaging the patient into a litter and carrying her to the ambulance. The subject was pronounced deceased at Cobleskill Regional Hospital. The dog survived the incident.

Town of Jefferson
Schoharie County
Water Rescue and Recovery:
On April 1 at 2:43 p.m., Forest Ranger France overheard radio traffic from Schoharie County 911 about a group who flipped their canoe on Blaze Pond. New York State Police (NYSP) alerted Ranger France that two subjects, 19- and 43-year-olds from Stamford, were rescued by fire department personnel, although one subject remained missing. At 3:25 p.m., Rangers France and Laymon arrived and began shoreline searches. At 5:15 p.m., the NYSP Dive Team arrived to assist the effort. At 7:40 p.m., NYSP called off search efforts for the night. The following day, the NYSP dive team recovered the body of the 26-year-old from Spring Valley.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On April 1 at 7:30 p.m., a party of four hikers called Ray Brook Dispatch when they were unable to cross a swollen stream while returning to the Adirondak Loj. The water was chest high at Indian Pass Brook. The four hikers tried looking for a safer crossing without success. Forest Rangers advised the group to make a fire to stay warm pending until they could be reached. While it had been warm that day, evening temperatures were getting down to the teens. Six Rangers responded with equipment to perform a swift water rescue. Rangers used an inflatable kayak and ropes to pull the party one-by-one across the water to safety. One Ranger remained upstream to warn of large ice pieces headed toward the rescue team. Another Ranger remained downstream in case anyone was swept down the water. At 1:10 a.m., Rangers and all four subjects arrived at the Adirondak Loj trailhead. Video of part of the swiftwater rescue in North Elba is available at DEC's website.

One of the dangers of hiking during mud season is how quickly snow can melt and cause waterways to swell. For more information on spring recreation safety tips, go to DEC's website.

Ranger and rescued hiker in a small blue boat on the water during rescue
Swift water rescue in North Elba

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.