DEC Forest Rangers – Week in Review

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 Bath
Steuben County
Honoring Fallen Ranger:
 Recently, Forest Rangers recognized the 53rd anniversary of the death of Forest Ranger Raymond Murray. Ranger Murray was the first Ranger line-of-duty death. He died in a plane crash along with the pilot on Oct. 9, 1970, while conducting a forest fire aerial detection flight. Ranger Murray’s daughters, Pamela Murray and Christine English, visited their father’s memorial at Steuben County Civil Defense and Fire Training Center to mark the anniversary of his passing.

various people standing in front of a large rock
Ranger Staples, Steuben County Director of Public Safety Marshall, Ranger Carpenter, Raymond Murray’s daughters Christine English and Pamela Murray, and retired Ranger Carpenter at memorial

Town of Esopus
Ulster County
Wilderness Recovery:
 On Sept. 26 at 11 a.m., New York State Police (NYSP) requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a missing ATV rider. The 48-year-old from Port Ewen left his home the night before and didn’t return. Ulster County shared the subject’s last known cell phone coordinates. At 1:19 p.m., Ranger Cowart located the deceased subject in a stream underneath the ATV. Rangers and the NYSP Dive Team removed the deceased from the water and turned him over to the coroner.

Town of Denning
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 26 at 3:35 p.m., Forest Ranger Schweider overheard radio traffic from Grahamsville Fire about an injured hiker on the Peekamoose Mountain blue trail. At 6:09 p.m., Ranger Schweider and the Fire Department’s Assistant Chief reached the 70-year-old from Hurleyville and splinted the injured leg. Rangers worked with Grahamsville and Napanoch fire departments on the three-mile carryout. Rescue crews used a wheeled litter and a rope system to get through the steep terrain and rock faces. The Rangers made it to the trailhead at 10:22 p.m. Grahamsville EMS transported the patient to the hospital. Rangers Schweider and Quinones discuss the rescue in a video available for download.

overhead view of rescuers
Peekamoose Mountain rescue
rangers getting ready to transport patient
Peekamoose Mountain rescue

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 27 at 3:15 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call about a hiker who fell near the junction of Wright and Algonquin peaks. Forest Rangers DuChene and Lewis hiked to the 65-year-old from Cropseyville, splinted his wrist, and helped him back to the trailhead. Lake Placid Ambulance took the hiker to the hospital at 6:52 p.m.

an forest ranger splinting a patient's wrist
Ranger Lewis splinting broken wrist

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 28 at 11:19 a.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker experiencing a cardiac event on the Third Brother summit. New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was called in to assist. Ranger Lewis lowered Ranger Mecus to the patient. Ranger Mecus attached a harness to the 29-year-old, and Ranger Lewis hoisted the hiker into the helicopter. NYSP flew the subject to the hospital. Resources were clear at 12:45 p.m.

Hamlet of Elmont
Nassau County
Flood Response:
 On Sept. 29, Forest Rangers supported New York State’s storm response on Long Island. Rangers formed a swift water rescue team to safely evacuate elderly individuals from their homes due to significant flooding.

a building that has been flooded
Building evacuation
rescuers in a stairwell helping people down
Building evacuation

Town of Hoosick
Rensselaer County
Wilderness Search:
 On Sept. 29 at 2:14 p.m., Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a missing 40-year-old with a history of mental health issues. Local law enforcement located the subject’s car. The search continued the following day with 10 Rangers, Sheriff’s Deputies, and volunteers. On Sept. 30 at 3:19 p.m., searchers located the subject, helped her out of the woods, and transferred her to EMS for treatment.

people searching the wood in hoosick
Hoosick Search

Town of Fishkill
Dutchess County
Public Outreach:
 On Sept. 30, Forest Rangers Cowart and O’Connell participated in the Harvest Festival at Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center. Rangers and Smokey Bear went over wildfire safety and Rangers showed the equipment they keep in their vehicles.

smokey bear and ranger posing for picture
Ranger O’Connell and Smokey Bear

Ranger Cowart and Smokey Bear

Town of Bellmont
Franklin County
Law Enforcement:
 On Sept. 30, Forest Rangers conducted a safety patrol on a conservation easement in the town of Bellmont. Rangers issued 21 tickets for illegal ATV use. The ATVs rolled through seven towns and detoured through signs indicating ATV use was not permitted.

parked ATV's on a road near a field
Bellmont safety patrol

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 30 at 2:14 p.m., Forest Rangers Scott and Temple responded to a hiker with a leg injury near the summit of Blue Mountain. Personnel from Indian Lake, Blue Mountain, and Speculator fire departments helped Rangers set up a rope system to raise the subject to the summit. Rescuers drove the 58-year-old from Philadelphia, NY, to the road where she was flown to the hospital. Resources were clear by 3:30 p.m.

Town of Minerva
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 30 at 2:31 p.m., Forest Ranger Bode, Minerva Fire, and Johnsburg EMS responded to a report of a hiker experiencing dehydration, weakness, and vomiting on Moxham Mountain. Ranger Bode reached the 76-year-old from Lake George, rehydrated the hiker, and started walking them out. They reached the trailhead by 6:09 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 30 at 5:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call about a hiker with an unstable lower leg injury on the Algonquin trail. New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation was called in. Pilot Kneer and Ranger Praczkajlo inserted Ranger O’Connor to the subject. Ranger O’Connor stabilized the hiker’s injury and prepared the 33-year-old from Canada for a hoist. The patient was flown to the hospital at 7:14 p.m.

ranger in helicopter with a person being hoisted up
Ranger O’Connor with hoist subject

Hamlet of Brentwood
Suffolk County
Law Enforcement:
 On Oct. 1, Forest Ranger Scott participated in an ATV detail at Edgewood Oak Brush Plains State Forest. Rangers received multiple reports of illegal ATVs in and around the preserve. Rangers spotted 30 ATVs, issued 16 tickets, and impounded two motor bikes.

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Aircraft Crash:
 On Oct. 1 at 5:15 p.m., Forest Ranger Captain Burns and Ranger Praczkajlo assisted Lake Placid Fire Department with the extraction of two subjects from a single fixed-wing aircraft that crashed on the Lake Placid airport runway. The two subjects passed away in the crash. Crews used a low angle rope system to remove the subjects from the wreckage before turning them over to the coroner at 7:30 p.m.

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.


Author: Harlem Valley News