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 South Valley
Cattaraugus County
Wildland Fire:
 On Nov. 13 at 3 p.m., New York State Parks Police alerted Forest Rangers to a wildfire burning in Pennsylvania heading toward Allegany State Park in New York. At 6:25 p.m., Ranger Skudlarek found approximately 45-acres burning in the State Park. U.S Forest Service firefighters contained the fire. On Nov. 14, six Forest Rangers worked with the U.S. Forest Service fire team to continue fire suppression efforts. On Nov. 15, fire crews put the fire in patrol status.

Forest Ranger chopping log
Allegany State Park fire

Allegany State Park fire teams
Allegany State Park fire teams

Town of Guilderland
Albany County
Prescribed Fire:
 On Nov. 16, Forest Rangers Bills and Laymon joined DEC staff, Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff, and volunteers to conduct a prescribed burn in the Antelope Slope area of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Approximately 36-acres were burned. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.

Forest Ranger standing in brush whle monitoring prescribed fire
Pine Bush prescribed burn

Ranger conducting prescribed fire at Pine Bush
Pine Bush prescribed burn

Town of East Fishkill
Dutchess County
Wildland Fire:
 On Nov. 16 at 1 p.m., Forest Ranger Lieutenant Ashida and Ranger Russo responded to a brush fire on the westbound side of I-84 in East Fishkill. A vehicle that produced sparks on the roadway is believed to have caused four separate fires within a one-mile stretch of the interstate, forcing New York State Police to close the right lane of the highway. Beekman, East Fishkill, Lake Carmel, Patterson, Pawling, and Rombout Fire Departments extinguished the four fires, with the largest blaze measuring approximately three quarters of an acre. Resources were clear at 4 p.m.

Smoke at wildland fire at East Fishkill
East Fishkill fire

Rangers at wildland fire
East Fishkill fire

Town of Caneadea
Allegany County
Wildland Fire:
 On Nov. 16 at 5:15 p.m., Forest Rangers and DEC Foresters responded to a brush fire in Rush Creek State Forest. Angelica, Belfast, Centerville, Clarksville, Cuba, Fillmore, New Hudson, Rushford, and Short Tract Fire Departments responded along with ambulances from Belfast, Houghton, and Rushford. The Allegany County Sheriff's Department drone unit and county and district coordinators also joined the effort to get the fire under control. The fire was contained before growing to 138-acres and destroying a seasonal cabin and sheds near the State Forest. Rangers continue to patrol the area for hot spots. The cause of the fire is believed to be an unattended backcountry campfire.

Ranger responding to brush fire at Rush Creek State Forest
Rush Creek Fire

Town of Thompson
Sullivan County
 On Nov. 17, Forest Ranger Schweider assisted the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, and facility security with Project Lifesaver training at the Center for Discovery. Residents at the Center for Discovery who are at high risk for leaving the premises unsupervised are fitted with radio transmitters to help rescue crews locate missing subjects more quickly. The training simulated a search for a missing resident from the facility. Upon notification of a missing subject, the rescue crews received a radio transmitter frequency from dispatch. Using radio receivers, the crews tracked the transmitter on the simulated subject.

Ranger and officer at Project Lifesaver training
Project Lifesaver

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
 On Nov. 17 at 7:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call about two overdue hikers hiking Mount Marcy. The pair from Brewster had proper clothing and headlamps and texted friends at 4:42 p.m. to advise they were on their way down the trail. At 9:02 p.m., Ranger Lewis made voice contact with the hikers and located them a short time later near an old ski trail. One of the subjects had severe leg cramps. Ranger Duchene hiked in with extra water for the pair. Rangers helped the hikers back to Adirondak Loj at 10:20 p.m.

Town of Hardenburgh
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Nov. 18 at 2 p.m., Forest Rangers Horn and Sweeney overheard radio traffic regarding an injured hunter in Hardenburgh. The 67-year-old from Margaretville fell and injured his head, ribs, and leg. Arkville, Fleischmanns, Halcottsville, and Margaretville Fire Departments packaged the patient and began an evacuation. Rangers Horn and Sweeney assisted with the half-mile carryout. A LifeNet helicopter flew the hunter to the hospital. Resources were clear at 6 p.m.

Town of Altona
Franklin County
Wilderness Search:
 On Nov. 18 at 10:10 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call about a lost hunter in the vicinity of Plank Road in Altona. The reporting party had communication with the hunter using a two-way radio but did not have location coordinates. Forest Rangers Odell and Russell responded along with Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) Lieutenant Younglove. The Officers searched the highest probability areas with negative results. The 80-year-old hunter said he was 30 feet from a creek. Rangers continued searching overnight. The following morning, a New York State Police aviation crew and ECO Fadden joined 11 Rangers in the search efforts. At 6:39 a.m., Rangers Corey and Mecus located the subject in good health and walked him back to his hunting camp.

Town of German
Chenango County
Wilderness Recovery:
 On Nov. 18 at 10:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Oldroyd responded to a call for an overdue hunter. One of the 72-year-old's hunting partners called to report he never made it back to their hunting camp. The Chenango County Sheriff's Office, Chenango County Search and Rescue Team, and the Genegantslet Fire Department joined Rangers in the search. At 3 a.m. search crews located the hunter from New Jersey, deceased. The hunter was turned over to the Greene Ambulance Squad and the coroner.

Town of Southampton
Suffolk County
Law Enforcement:
 On Nov. 19, Forest Ranger Gagne received photographs of two subjects walking with what appeared to be rifles or air rifles on State land. Ranger Gagne contacted Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) McGhee to assist in the investigation. While on patrol, Ranger Gagne and ECO McGhee observed and stopped two ATV riders and charged them with illegally operating ATVs on public land and trespassing on posted lands.

Two subjects on ATVs
Illegal ATV use

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.