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NYS DEC Forest Ranger Reports

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Multiple rescues, cannabis eradication, training and outreach efforts

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 2021, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate hundreds of acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests.”Over the last decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC saw an increase in people visiting State lands to experience New York’s abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC’s Forest Rangers continue to be on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely, as well as to protect our state’s irreplaceable natural resources. Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to white water rivers, and throughout our vast forests statewide.”Towns of Hadley and Warrensburg
Saratoga and Warren Counties
Training:
 On Sept. 22 and 23, five Forest Ranger American Canoe Association (ACA) instructors participated in an instructor’s class hosted by Mather Rescue. To maintain their instructor credentials, Rangers are required to take the class every four years. The Ranger instructors demonstrated swiftwater rescue techniques to raft guides and other Forest Rangers where the Sacandaga meets the Hudson

Town of Lake Pleasant
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 23 at 11:15 a.m., Forest Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Temple and Thompson responded to an emergency beacon activation in the West Canada Lake Wilderness area. When Ranger Temple reached the Moose River Plains trailhead, a hiker came out of the woods and reported that a hiker in their group had hurt her knee and was slowly making her way back to the trailhead. The friend was retrieving the injured hiker’s backpack to make the trip easier. Ranger Temple hiked in, found the injured hiker, and determined the 62-year-old from Staten Island had a swollen, but stable, knee. Ranger Temple bandaged the knee for compression purposes and helped the hiker to the trailhead by 2:30 p.m. The subject said she would seek medical treatment on her own.

Town of Centerville
Allegany County
State Land Protection/Enforcement:
 On Sept. 23, Forest Rangers located 15 large marijuana plants unlawfully grown on Swift Hill State Forest. Rangers cut and moved the plants to a safe area where the plants were burned. Although marijuana laws have changed, unlawful agricultural use of state lands is prohibited under New York’s Environmental Conservation Law.

City of Rome
Oneida County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 23 at 6:55 p.m., Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) Starczek, Howe, and Gates alerted Forest Ranger Lieutenant Hoag about an Oneida County Sheriff’s Office search for two lost hikers in the Rome Sand Plains Unique Area. The Sheriff’s Office had coordinates for the lost subjects. ECOs and Sheriff’s deputies used sirens to guide the subjects out, but the subjects were stuck in deep swamp conditions. Lieutenant Hoag, Ranger Bills, and ECO Gates navigated through the water and mud and located the group. The hikers kept losing their footwear due to the muddy conditions, and with the thick vegetation, were unlikely to find their way out alone. The Rangers and ECO helped the 54-year-old from Liverpool, NY, and 58-year-old from Cicero, NY, to a waiting ambulance at Hogsback Road. Resources were clear by 10 p.m.

City of Albany
Albany County
Public Outreach:
 On Sept. 24, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Breigle participated in the Hometown Heroes event at the University at Albany. First responders from various agencies and departments were honored during halftime of the UAlbany football game. The event featured information tables where attendees could learn about the different careers available in law enforcement.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 24 at 4 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with three hikers who became ill while hiking Mount Colden. Ranger Curcio made phone contact with the hikers and instructed them to head back down the mountain. At 6:30 p.m., Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Kelly hiked up to the three subjects from Quebec and walked them to Avalanche Lake. Other than fatigue, the subjects were healthy and did not require medical attention. AFR Kelly rowed the two 26-year-olds and 31-year-old across the lake so they could get to their vehicle. Resources were clear at 10:30 p.m.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Sept. 24 at 10:45 p.m. Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with three subjects who ran out of daylight while hiking Allen Mountain. The 19-year-old, 22-year-old, and 23-year-old from Ogdensburg started their 19-mile round trip hike at 10 a.m. The group reached the summit at 4:30 p.m., but didn’t realize sunset was at 6:47 p.m. The hikers did not have headlamps or flashlights and became lost on the way down. Ranger Quinn reached the hikers and assisted them down to their vehicle. DEC reminds hikers to be prepared with light sources as daylight grows shorter. The lights on cell phones only last as long as the battery and should not be relied on as the primary source of light after sunset. 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 by region.https://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html
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