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 Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Search:
 On Oct. 25 at 2:56 p.m., Forest Ranger Scott responded to a call for a missing hiker. The 54-year-old from Pennfield made a wrong turn on the Rock River Trail. Ranger Scott located the subject at Benton Road and helped her back to her vehicle at the trailhead. Resources were clear by 4 p.m.

Town of Thompson
Sullivan County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 25 at 5 p.m., Forest Ranger Schweider overheard a radio call for an injured hiker at the Neversink River Unique Area. Ranger Schweider reached the 25-year-old from New Jersey and determined she was showing signs of low blood sugar. After providing oral glucose and some food, Ranger Schweider helped walk the subject out of the woods with the assistance of members of Rock Hill Fire Department. Resources were clear at 6:45 p.m.

City of Rochester
Monroe County
 On Oct. 27, Forest Rangers Chappel, Cordell, and Lunt instructed a basic ground school for Rangers from DEC Region 9. Topics included personal rigging, patient packaging for hoist missions, and the various rescue devices utilized in aviation-based rescues.

Rangers listening to training instructor
Aviation ground training

Village of Sandy Creek
Oswego County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 27 at 12:56 p.m., Forest Ranger Petit joined New York State Police, the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department, the Oswego County Search Team, and the Lacona Fire Department in the search for a 39-year-old despondent subject. At 2:07 p.m., a drone spotted the subject from Lacona shortly before Ranger Petit’s team located the unconscious individual. Ranger Petit resuscitated the subject before rescue crews carried them in a litter to an ambulance before transporting the subject to the hospital.

Resources are available for those experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress — 988 is a free 24-hour hotline to call or text anywhere in New York.

Town of Guilderland
Albany County
Prescribed Burn:
 On Oct. 27, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Mitchell and Rangers Jackson and Lymon joined Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff to conduct a prescribed burn of 37-acres at the Pine Bush near the intersection of Willow Street and Tara Court. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.

Rangers in the field monitoring prescribed fire
Albany Pine Bush prescribed burn

Rangers in the field conducting and monitoring prescribed fire
Albany Pine Bush prescribed burn

Hamlet of Ticonderoga
Essex County
Vehicle Recovery:
 On Oct. 27 at 3:30 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch called Forest Ranger Quinn about two subjects stranded near Crane Pond. The pair’s SUV got stuck in the water and needed a tow. Ranger Quinn helped find a tow truck operator who could make it to the unmaintained road. The tow truck pulled out the SUV, but the vehicle wouldn’t start. Ranger Quinn provided the stranded subjects a courtesy ride to Schroon Lake.

SUV stuck in water on unmaintained road
SUV recovered near Crane Pond

Town of Bolivar
Allegany County
Wilderness Search:
 On Oct. 27 at 11:45 p.m., Forest Ranger Thaine responded to a request from Allegany Dispatch to assist in the search for a missing 70-year-old with Parkinson’s disease. The subject was last seen at his Bolivar home at 2 p.m., when he said he was going back into the woods with his dog to retrieve his ATV. When the subject didn’t return by dark, family and friends searched before calling 911. Ranger Thaine joined New York State Police, Bolivar Police, and the Allegany County Sheriff’s Department in the search effort. Bolivar Fire responded with volunteers and UTVs. Crews searched the woods, trails, and roads through the night. At 6:45 a.m., the Allegany County Sheriff’s Department drone unit spotted the subject in the woods, a short distance from the road, approximately half a mile from his home. Troopers and members of the drone crew went to the location to find the man with his dog and helped walk the subject out to the road. The subject was disoriented, injured from a fall, and cold. Bolivar Ambulance transported them to the hospital for evaluation.

Town of Piercefield
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Search:
 On Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call through 911 from a subject stating his 71-year-old hunting partner was overdue and not answering his cell phone. Four Forest Rangers responded. At 10:09 p.m., Rangers Baldwin and Praczkajlo found the subject from Tupper Lake. The hunter was disoriented after making a wrong turn. Rangers walked the hunter back to the road where he declined further medical evaluation.

Hunter making their way out of the woods at night with help of rangers
Hunter found in the town of Piercefield

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NYAdirondack 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