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."

City of Albany
Albany County
Prescribed Fire Training:
 On May 8 through 11, 16 Forest Rangers attended an RX-410 Smoke Management Techniques course at the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center. This training was co-sponsored by the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Compact and DEC's Division of Forest Protection. The training is required for those Officers who want to become a Prescribed Fire Burn Boss. Prescribed Fire Burn Bosses provide trainees with the knowledge and tools to conduct prescribed fires safely while minimizing smoke impacts to the environment and communities. Trainees representing Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia were also in attendance.

Rangers sit at long tables during presentation
Smoke management techniques training

Town of Black Brook
Clinton County
Wildland Fire:
 On May 15 at 6:45 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildland fire in Black Brook near the intersection of Turnpike and Goodrich Mills roads. Ausable Forks and Saranac Lake fire departments also responded to the 30-acre fire. Rangers and other firefighters sustained fire suppression efforts for several days. On May 17 at 6:45 p.m., the fire was declared 100 percent contained. The fire remains in patrol status.

Town of Neversink
Sullivan County
Wildland Fire:
 On May 16 at 3 p.m., an individual in the Peekamoose Blue Hole area reported seeing a wildfire on "top of a mountain." Forest Rangers and multiple fire departments, including Grahamsville and Woodridge, responded and determined the fire was in Neversink. By 6 p.m., fire crews had the fire contained to two acres. On May 18 at 5:20 p.m., the fire was officially declared out.

Town of Brookhaven
Suffolk County
Illegal Dumping:
 On May 17, Forest Ranger Gagne discovered several piles of debris in Rocky Point State Forest. Due to the frequency of illegal debris dumping, this area is monitored by both the Suffolk County Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council and Forest Rangers. Through investigative work, the Ranger identified three suspects who dumped material at the site over the last month. Ranger Gagne charged the responsible parties with dumping on State land and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on State land. The subjects were also forced to clean up the debris.

Dark colored truck with old furniture and boxes in the back
Illegal dumping at Rocky Point State Forest

White truck with debris in the back
Illegal dumping at Rocky Point State Forest

dark screen grab from security footage of white van with doors open
Illegal dumping at Rocky Point State Forest

Village of Sidney
Delaware County
Public Outreach:
 On May 17, Forest Ranger Ellis joined Smokey Bear at Sidney Head Start's 'Day of the Young Child' event. Ranger Ellis discussed a Forest Ranger's job duties and gave a lesson in fire safety and wildfire suppression.

Smokey Bear and Ranger with small children in a field
Ranger Ellis and Smokey Bear at Sidney Head Start

Smokey Bear gives small child a hug
Smokey Bear hugs at Sidney Head Start

Town of Blenheim
Schoharie County
Wildland Fire:
 On May 17 at 11:36 a.m., Forest Ranger Bowler and the Blenheim Fire Department responded to a one-acre fire on North Road in Blenheim. By 4 p.m., firefighters had the fire contained. Ranger Bowler determined the homeowner was burning brush legally, but the ash buried in the dirt rekindled and spread through the surrounding duff material.

Charred trees and branches after wild fire
Wildland fire in Blenheim

Smokey area of a wildland fire
Wildland fire in Blenheim

Town of Berne
Albany County
Wildland Fire:
 On May 18 at 2:47 p.m., A New York State Police helicopter spotted a wildfire in Berne. Forest Rangers were joined by Berne, Coeymans Hollow, East Berne, Huntersland, Knox, Onesquethaw, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo fire departments. By 5:30 p.m., fire crews had the 4.67-acre fire contained. On May 19 at 2 p.m., the fire was declared out. After interviewing the landowner and inspecting the property for evidence of ignition, no cause was determined.

Aerial view of smoke rising through trees where wild fire burns
Wildland fire in Berne

Town Forestburgh
Sullivan County
Wildland Fire:
 On May 18 at 3:45 p.m., Sullivan County Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a wildland fire on Plank Road in Forestburgh. Rangers and firefighters from Forestburgh, Huguenot, Hurleyville, Kauneonga Lake, Lava, Loch Sheldrake, Monticello, Port Jervis, Rock Hill, Smallwood, South Fallsburg, Sparrowbush, Swan Lake, and Woodridge fire departments had the 9.7-acre fire contained by 5:30 p.m. The cause of the fire was debris burning in an empty lot near the Swinging Bridge Reservoir. On May 20 at 4:25 p.m., the fire was declared out.

smokey and charred tree trunks
Wildland fire in Forestburgh

charred trees after wild fire
Wildland fire in Forestburgh

Town of Broadalbin
Fulton County
Water Rescue:
 On May 18 at 6:36 p.m., Forest Ranger Thompson responded to a radio report of an angler in a capsizing rowboat on the Great Sacandaga Lake. Several people nearby used paddle kayaks to bring the subject a life preserver. The angler was sitting on top of the overturned boat. Ranger Thompson borrowed a kayak, secured a throw bag on shore, and paddled out to the 27-year-old from Amsterdam. Once Ranger Thompson secured the subject with a life ring, Broadalbin Volunteer Fire Department personnel pulled them ashore using the throw bag. Ranger Thompson and the good Samaritans then pulled the boat ashore. The subject's friend took him to the hospital. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Broadalbin Fire, Fulton County Sheriff's Office, and New York State Fire also responded. Resources were clear at 7:40 p.m.

City of Beacon
Dutchess County
Public Outreach:
 On May 20, Forest Rangers Pries and Russo joined Smokey Bear at EMS Community Safety and Wellness Awareness Day at the Elks Lodge in Beacon. The event, organized by the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps, provides local residents an opportunity to learn about different first responders and their job responsibilities. Rangers discussed their job duties and worked with Smokey to spread the word about fire safety.

Two rangers and smokey bear stand under tent at informational table
Rangers Pries and Russo at EMS Community Safety and Wellness Awareness Day

Hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On May 20 at 1:19 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker bleeding profusely after a dog bite. The 29-year-old was hiking with her mother and their two dogs on the Northville Placid trail when one of the dogs bit through her hand. Ranger Scott made it to the subject by 3 p.m. A Good Samaritan was already helping the hiker. Ranger Scoot administered first aid and assisted the pair back to their vehicle. The subject said she would seek further medical attention on her own.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On May 20 at 8:01 p.m., an emergency beacon was activated by a hiking party of three on the Phelps Trail, east of Little Marcy. Forest Rangers Foutch and Mecus started hiking in to find the subjects. Rangers were unable to make phone contact with the party, but at 1 a.m., after six miles of hiking, Rangers located the subjects on the trail and treated them for mild hypothermia. Three to four feet of snow combined with rainy conditions overnight significantly slowed the rescue. Rangers Lewis and O'Connor hiked up to help get the subjects and their gear down the mountain. At 8:50 a.m., the group reached the Johns Brook outpost, where Rangers continued to warm the hikers before continuing to the trailhead. No further medical treatment was required. Resources were clear at 12 p.m.

The hikers were on a three-day trip, but had not checked the weather forecast and did not turn around when they encountered more snow than they were prepared for. As Memorial Day weekend approaches and more people head outdoors, hikers are encouraged to look at the weather and know their limitations before venturing outdoors. Learn more at DEC's website.

nightime view of Ranger helping hikers
Phelps trail rescue

group of hikers and Rangers walk down a trail after rescue
Phelps trail rescue

Town of New Baltimore
Greene County
Wilderness Recovery:
 On May 21 at approximately 6 p.m., hikers on the Hannacroix Preserve discovered a person face down in the Hannacroix Creek. The hikers called 911 and Forest Rangers assisted Greene County Sheriff's Office and the New Baltimore Volunteer Fire Department with extracting the deceased subject from the creek bed before transferring them to a UTV. The UTV drove approximately three-quarters of a mile to the trailhead, where the 55-year-old's body was turned over to the coroner. Resources were clear at 8:10 p.m.

Town of Andes
Delaware County
Wilderness Search:
 On May 21 at 10:40 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to Little Pond Campground after receiving a report of two overdue hikers who left at 2 p.m. for a hike and didn't return. The pair had not shared their hiking destination with anyone at the campground. Searching continued overnight. At 9 a.m., the subjects came out of the woods on their own. Rangers spoke to the pair, who indicated they had lost the trail and decided to stay in the woods until daylight. The subjects were in good health.

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.