DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 4/29 – 5/5/19


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 the backcountry.

In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 tickets or arrests.

“Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide.”


Towns of Hornby and Orange
Steuben and Schuyler Counties

Prescribed Fire:
On April 29, Region 8 DEC staff conducted two prescribed fires to conclude the agency’s spring prescribed fire details. The first fire took place at the West Hill State Forest in Steuben County and burned four acres in size. Burning in this unit helps invigorate native warm-season grasses while reducing invasive plant species. The second fire took place at the Coon Hollow State Forest in Schuyler County and was nine acres in size. This is the first time this unit has been burned since the Six Nations Prescribed Fire Plan was approved, and DEC anticipates that the introduction of prescribed fire into this unit will revitalize the remaining warm season grasses.


Forest Rangers in a wooded area conducting and monitoring a prescribed fire
Forest Rangers conduct a prescribed fire in Region 8


Town of Guilderland
Albany County

Prescribed Fire:
On April 29, DEC Forest Rangers, Albany Pine Bush staff, several volunteer fire departments, and staff from various DEC programs conducted a 41.6-acre prescribed fire in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. This treatment will increase openings for warm-season grasses, forbs, and wild blue lupine, while also helping to reduce the invasion of woody shrubs. This management technique continues to improve the preserve’s habitat for the Karner Blue Butterfly.


Forest Ranger conducting prescribed fire on the edge of a wooded area
Forest Rangers assist with prescribed fire at Albany Pine Bush Preserve


Town of North Elba
Essex County

Wilderness Rescue:
On May 1 at 8:43 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a cell phone call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a Brooklyn hiker reporting that a 19-year-old male in their group was repeatedly slipping and falling after descending Algonquin Peak. The caller’s 911 coordinates placed the group on the trail approximately .9 miles from Marcy Dam. The call was lost and dispatch was unable to reach the hikers via text. Forest Rangers responded with a UTV via the Marcy Dam truck trail to intercept the hiking party at Marcy Dam. When the subjects were not found at Marcy Dam, Rangers went up the trail toward Avalanche Camp with negative results. State Police Ray Brook, who had also received calls from the hikers’ family and friends, provided a second cell number for the group. Dispatch established cell contact with the group by 10:36 p.m. The hikers said they believed they were just over a mile from the Adirondack Loj past Marcy Dam. Ranger James Giglinto caught up to the group on the trail at 11:39 p.m. The subjects reached the Loj at 12:02 a.m. and declined further medical care after being assessed by Ranger Giglinto. The hikers had mistakenly taken a longer route after leaving Algonquin, and the subject having difficulty did not have suitable gear for the trip.

Village of Holland Patent
Oneida County

Wilderness Rescue:
 On May 4 at 11:53 a.m., two Forest Rangers, an Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy, and a New York State Trooper responded to an Oneida County 911 call to assist Forestport and Woodgate Volunteer Fire Department EMTs with a 58-year-old man from Elbridge injured by a chainsaw during a tree-cutting accident. The man suffered a head injury and had both legs pinned under a tree approximately half of a mile from a road along Little Woodhull Creek. Rangers reached the injured subject by 12:15 p.m. and assisted with initial first aid and patient care. Officers and EMTs carried the injured man approximately 100 yards up a foot trail to a waiting Polaris UTV and transported the subject through the woods to the Gravesville Trail. By 1:07 p.m., STAR Ambulance transported the man to a nearby helicopter landing spot for a LifeFlight helicopter relay to a hospital in Utica. The subject was in stable condition when transported to the hospital.


Forest Rangers, local and state emergency services in teh woods lifting a man on a stretcher onto a small utility vehicle for transport
Rescue crews transport injured man out of the woods following tree cutting accident


Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County

Wilderness Rescue:
 On May 4 at 2:08 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a cellphone call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a caller who was lost while hiking back from Bum Pond in the William C. Whitney Wilderness. The 62-year-old male from Bushkill, PA, went on a hike to Bum Pond from Sabattis Road and successfully reached the pond on the lightly marked trails. However, while coming back, the hiker became disoriented and called for Forest Ranger assistance after realizing he was lost. Through questioning by Ray Brook Dispatch and based off his last known point and direction of travel, Rangers established that the hiker was along the shore of Little Tupper Lake. Two Forest Rangers proceeded to the Whitney Headquarters with a boat for an efficient response. The Rangers quickly arrived at the trail coordinates, located the hiker in good condition, and returned him to his vehicle.

Town of Persia
Cattaraugus County

Wildland Rescue:
On May 4 at 10 p.m., Cattaraugus County 911 contacted Forest Rangers for a report of four lost hikers in the Zoar Valley Multiple Day Use Area. Two females, one from Silver Creek and one from Forrestville, and two children became disoriented while hiking. The hikers contacted 911 and their coordinates were relayed to the Rangers. A regional swift water team was deployed but was unable to reach the group due to rocks in the stream. Rangers John Kennedy and Nathan Sprague then proceeded to hike in with crews on each bank to pinpoint the hikers’ location. The group was located early Sunday morning and taken out by raft. All were in good health. EMS met the hikers at the parking lot, where they were evaluated and released.


Forest Rangers with two yellow rafts in a river, rescuing disoriented hikers
Rescue crews work to remove lost hikers in Zoar Valley


Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.