DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Delivers - Information to keep you connected and informed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
View in browser

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 Forestburgh
Sullivan County
Wilderness Recovery:
 On March 31, five Forest Rangers responded to a request for Ranger assistance in the search for a subject who went missing after off-roading with a friend on March 29. The Sullivan County Sheriff's Department and New York State Police (NYSP) K9 units were also on scene. The search continued until April 7, with up to 65 people from local fire departments, search and rescue groups, and volunteers searching each day. DEC Forest Rangers coordinated the search with 26 Rangers covering a one-mile radius from the subject's last known point. ATVs, UTVs, drones, and a NYSP helicopter were used during the search efforts. On the morning of April 7, Rangers received enhanced cell phone data from the FBI that placed the subject southeast of his last known point in an area that had not been searched. At 12:40 p.m., Ranger Allwine found the subject deceased. He was identified as 35-year-old Harold Hoyt from Glen Spey. Search crews carried the body approximately three-quarters of a mile out to the road for transport to the County Coroner. Resources were demobilized by 7:30 p.m.

Rangers and emergency personell have briefing in parking lot during wilderness search
Forestburgh search

Rangers searching woods during wilderness search
Forestburgh search

Rangers line gravel road during wilderness search
Forestburgh search

Towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead
Suffolk County
Prescribed Fires:
 On April 3 and 4, Forest Rangers conducted prescribed fires in coordination with DEC Lands and Forest staff, the Central Pine Barrens Commission, The Nature Conservancy, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. Trained wildland firefighters burned 55 acres of grassland at Fresh Pond South in Riverhead and more than two acres of grassland in Brookhaven. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Video of the Riverhead prescribed fire (video, 164 MB) is available at DEC's website.

ranger stands near edge of prescribed fire in a field
Prescribed fire in Riverhead

Clinton and Essex Counties
Kayak Patrol:
 On April 7, Forest Rangers Foutch and Praczkajlo patrolled 20 miles of white water on the east and west branches of the Ausable River. In kayaks, Rangers checked river conditions and flow. While training for rescues and flood response, the Rangers also assisted fisheries staff with stocking of hundreds of brown trout. Video of part of the kayak patrol is available (video, 84 MB) at DEC's website.

Ranger in kayak paddling in rushing waters
Kayak Patrol on Ausable River

Hamlet of Forestville
Chautauqua County
Wildland Fire:
 On April 8 at 4:10 p.m., Forest Ranger Sprague responded to a wildland fire on Kuhrt Road in Forestville. The local fire department contained the fire before Ranger Sprague arrived about 20 minutes later. The cause of the fire was the landowner burning old vineyard posts. While making a short trip to get more posts, the fire spread. With higher winds and drier land, fires are more likely to get out of control quickly. Ranger Sprague educated the homeowner about leaving fires unattended, even for a short time.

trees and ground smoke and smoulder in wildfire
Forestville fire

fire fighters stand next so smokey area where wildfire burned through
Forestville fire

Town of Patterson
Putnam County
Wildland Fire:
 On April 8 at 7:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Horn and Russo responded to a wildland fire on a steep ridge near Stagecoach Road in Patterson. The fire was burning oak leaf litter and some dead standing oak trees. Rangers and Patterson Fire contained the fire to three acres. By 11 p.m., Rangers put the fire in patrol status.

Tree and ground smoulders in wildfire
Patterson fire

Ranger helps extinguish portion of wildfire on some rocks
Ranger Russo at Patterson fire

Town of Austerlitz
Columbia County
Wildland Fire:
 On April 9 at 4:20 p.m., Forest Ranger Gullen and local fire departments responded to a brush fire in Austerlitz. The six-acre fire was caused by a powerline that burned through three trees before the power was shut off. Ranger Gullen put the fire in patrol status at 7:05 p.m.

telephone pole leans on trees where wire burned through
Austerlitz fire

Town of Cambridge
Washington County
Wildland Fire:
 On April 9 at 4:43 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a brush fire in the town of Cambridge. Ranger Carabetta responded to the six-acre fire along with multiple local fire departments. At 7:01 p.m., the fire was put into patrol status.

DEC reminds New Yorkers that the annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning began March 16 and runs through May 14. More information is available on the DEC website.

smoke rises from a pile of dead trees and old leaves
Cambridge fire

Telecommunicators Week: DEC recognizes National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week April 9 to 15. Dispatchers are an invaluable emergency response resource, as they are often the first person receiving a call for help. This past week, DEC dispatchers helped with the search in Forestburgh and wildfires in Regions 3, 4, and 5.

two dispatchers standing at a computer screen
DEC Dispatcher Nerp and Senior Dispatcher Bodmer

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.