For Release: Wednesday, February 22, 2023
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.”
Fire Danger information: DEC is urging New Yorkers to take extra caution due to this year’s warm and dry winter season. While the statewide burn ban doesn’t take effect until March 16, the majority of the State’s land is dry and brown. Without any new or additional snowfall, the dry, dormant vegetation is primed to burn and facilitate the spread of a wildfire. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC’s FIREWISE New York webpage.
City of Niagara Falls
Recovery Mission: On Feb. 13 at 1:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Cordell was contacted by New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation for a hoist mission in Niagara Falls. A 34-year-old and her five-year-old son, both from Illinois, fell into the gorge. While flying to the scene, Ranger Cordell found out the child was rescued by ground personnel and taken to the hospital, but the mother was deceased. Ranger Cordell and NYSP conducted a successful hoist mission and turned the body over to medical officials. Resources were clear at 4:15 p.m.
Hamlet of Garrison
Debris Fire and Rescue: On Feb 13 at 3:45 p.m., Forest Rangers Cowart and Russo responded to a leaf litter fire off of Schuyler Road. The 79-year-old homeowner was burning leaf litter and an ember blew to a nearby property, burning a gazebo. While looking at his damaged gazebo, the 82-year-old property owner had a seizure. Rangers provided medical care until an ambulance arrived. The homeowner who started the fire was issued two violations for setting a fire which endangered the property of another.
Fire in Garrison
Hamlet of Callicoon Center
Wildland Fire: On Feb. 13 at 4 p.m., Callicoon Fire requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildland fire. Rangers Franke, Quinones, Schweider, and Stratton responded. A homeowner was burning treated wood when the fire escaped and spread into the woods. The fire department completed a fire line around the perimeter. Rangers measured the fire at approximately 2.5 acres. Rangers put out hot spots and issued a ticket to the homeowner for not clearing three feet around the fire. On Feb. 14 at 1:10 p.m., Rangers declared the fire out.
Hamlet of Raquette Lake
Recovery Mission: On Feb. 13 at 6 p.m., the father of a missing 31-year-old called Forest Ranger Miller explaining that his son had not been seen since February 12. The 31-year-old from Raquette Lake had taken his snowmobile for a ride. Ranger Lieutenant Kerr joined Rangers Miller and Temple in the search. Ray Brook dispatch pinged the subject’s phone and Ranger Miller located the subject deceased next to the snowmobile. The snowmobile hit an embankment and a tree resulting in the death. The body was turned over to the coroner at 9:45 p.m.
Hamlet of Mahopac
Wildland Fire: On Feb. 15 at 4:50 p.m., Forest Ranger Lieutenant Ashida and Ranger Cowart responded to a wildland fire behind a residence in Mahopac. Carmel, Croton Falls, Mahopac, and Somers fire departments contained the fire to three acres. Rangers continued putting out hot spots to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes. On Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m., Rangers declared the fire out.
Fire in Mahopac
Town of Angelica
Wildland Fire: On Feb. 15 at 5:20 p.m., Forest Rangers Richer and Thaine responded to a wildland fire on Old State Road in Angelica. Angelica, Belfast, Belmont, Friendship, and Short Tract fire departments got the fire under control before Rangers arrived. Rangers helped put out hot spots and measured the fire at 7.5 acres. The fire was caused by smoldering debris from brush burning. At 6:20 p.m., Rangers declared the fire out. Allegany County Fire District, Allegany County Medical Transport Service, and Angelica Ambulance also responded.
Fire in Angelica
Town of Schroon
Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 18 at 12:50 p.m., Forest Rangers Arnold and Bode, as well as Lieutenant Geesler responded to a call for an injured hiker at a Crane Pond campsite. At 2:44 p.m., Rangers reached the 56-year-old from Ballston Spa and splinted her left ankle. Rangers helped the subject back to the trailhead where she declined further medical attention. Resources were clear at 5 p.m.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 18 at 4:20 p.m., a hiker on the A.E Weld Trail between Gothics and Sawteeth mountains called Ray Brook Dispatch to report a 40-year-old in their hiking party suffered an ankle injury. Forest Rangers DuChene, Lewis, O’Connor, and Praczkajlo responded and located the subject from Brant Lake. Rangers assisted her to the trailhead where she indicated she would seek further medical care on her own. Resources were clear at 7:22 p.m.
Town of Forestport
Flat Ice Rescue Training: On Feb. 18, five Region 6 Forest Rangers participated in flat ice rescue training hosted by Otter Lake Fire Department. Approximately 20 people attended the training, including members of the Woodgate and Forestport fire departments. The training began with a classroom lecture and culminated in a field exercise conducted on Otter Lake. Rangers, including recent academy graduates Pelrah and Stone, demonstrated their self-rescue, reach, and throw and go skills.
Flat ice rescue training in Forestport
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 by region.
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