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 2020, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 492 search and rescue missions, extinguished 192 wildfires that burned a total of more than 1,122 acres, participated in eight prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate more than 203 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 3,131 tickets or arrests.
"During New York’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are enjoying the outdoors than ever before and our Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help people get outside responsibly and get home safely," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "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.”
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 16 at 5:37 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of three overdue snowshoers who left from the Garden parking area to hike Johns Brook Valley and had not returned. The hikers from Albany, NY, and Topeka, KS, did not have lights, overnight gear, or appropriate clothing for anticipated zero-degree temperatures. Forest Ranger Lewis responded to the location and confirmed the subjects’ vehicle was still at the trailhead. When interviewing family members, Ranger Lewis learned that one of the individuals has asthma and did not have her inhaler. Ranger Lewis retrieved the subject’s inhaler before responding to Johns Brook Lodge. Forest Rangers O’Connor and Martin also responded to the location with snowmobiles to extricate the unprepared snowshoers. On Feb. 17 at 1:20 a.m., Rangers and the three hikers were out of the woods and back at the trailhead.
Town of Pharsalia
Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 20 at 9:15 p.m., Forest Ranger Oldroyd was contacted by Chenango County 911 about a truck that went off the Civilian Conservation Corps truck trail in the Pharsalia Woods State Forest. The truck trail is part of a snowmobile trail system in the forest. The vehicle’s occupants attempted to rescue themselves by using a winch cable to get the truck back on the road but in doing so created an unsafe trail condition. Once the subjects realized this, they requested assistance. Forest Rangers Oldroyd and Oldroyd responded to their location with snowmobiles and brought the occupants out of the woods. Rangers treated the occupants from Marathon and Cincinnatus, NY, for mild hypothermia, placing them in a Sheriff’s vehicle. Once warmed up, the subjects were released and all units were cleared of the scene by 12:05 a.m.
Truck off trail in Pharsalia Woods State Forest (photo attached)
New York State DEC staff continue to serve in leadership roles at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites across the state. For information about efforts to vaccinate New Yorkers and to check eligibility for vaccinations, go to: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/
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.