DEC Contact: Jeff Wernick (518) 402-8000

January 05, 2021


Recent 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 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 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 Valley

Essex County

Wilderness Rescue: On Dec. 28 at 9:58 a.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 51-year-old male from Forest Mills had sustained injuries from a 30-foot fall on the Giant Mt. Ridge Trail. While Forest Rangers Lewis, Mecus, Praczkaljo, and Evans responded to the trailhead, Lt. Burns conducted a phone interview with the reporting party and determined the incident a medical emergency response. Rangers requested Essex County Emergency Service to deploy a Critical Care Technician to assist with medical care. Icy trail conditions warranted an additional five Forest Rangers, two members of the DEC trail crew, and eight members of the Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue Group to assist with a steep-angle technical rescue. At 12:30 p.m., the hiker was stabilized and packaged into a litter for a two-mile carryout to a waiting ambulance. At 3:15 p.m., the injured hiker was out of the woods, turned over to Keene Valley Rescue, and transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment. All personnel were clear of the scene at 3:30 p.m.


Keene Valley Rescue (photo attached) 

Town of Hunter
Greene County 
Wilderness Rescue: On Dec. 29 at 11:00 a.m., Greene County 911 received a call from a hiker with an ankle injury on the Escarpment Trail near Layman's Monument. The hiker was wearing sneakers and slipped on the trail due to icy conditions. Forest Rangers responded, along with members of a local fire department, to the hiker’s location. Once on scene, Rangers determined the 25-year-old hiker from Lebanon, New Jersey, had an unstable ankle injury. Responders implemented a rescue plan that included re-warming the hiker and packaging him in a litter to be carried out half a mile to the Laurel House trailhead. The hiker was then transferred to Hunter Ambulance and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. 

Town of Depew 
Erie County 
First Day Hike:  On Jan. 1, Forest Ranger Robitaille led a group of hikers on a First Day Hike at the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. All participants wore masks and socially distanced while Ranger Robitaille shared information about the property’s history, the job of a Forest Ranger, and local environmental issues.  

First Day Hike at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve (photo attached) 

Town of Windham 
Greene County 
Wilderness Rescue: On Jan. 1 at 11:20 a.m., Greene County 911 received a report of a woman with an injured elbow on the Batavia Kill Trail. The subject had been trail running on the Acra Point Loop Trails with another runner until they separated to take different trails to Big Hollow Trailhead. Near the Batavia Kill lean-to, the woman fell on the ice, which caused an unstable elbow injury. She called 911 for help and slowly continued out to the trailhead with a group of hikers who stopped to assist her. Forest Rangers Nelson and Fox responded, with Ranger Nelson locating the 29-year-old woman from Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, on the trail at 12:00 p.m. Ranger Nelson provided warming materials, stabilized the runner’s arm, and assisted her to the trailhead. Windham Ambulance EMS evaluated the subject at the trailhead and she reported that she would seek additional medical treatment on her own.  

Town of Persia 
Cattaraugus County 
Wilderness Rescue: On Jan. 2 at 11:00 a.m., Forest Rangers were notified of a pair of stranded kayakers on Cattaraugus Creek. The two men had been paddling in high water conditions when one paddler flipped and lost his kayak. The second subject lost his kayak attempting to grab the first. One kayaker landed on the Erie County side of the creek and was able to hike out on his own. The other kayaker landed on the Cattaraugus County side of the creek in an area without safe trail access. Forest Ranger Sprague responded to the scene and rappelled down to kayaker. The Ranger harnessed the man to be raised out on a system set up by Forest Ranger Rogers and Gowanda Fire Department and Ambulance. Members of the District 1 Rescue Team also responded to assist. The kayaker did not require medical assistance and was released.  

Kayaker rescued from Cattaraugus Creek (photo attached) 

Brookhaven State Park
Suffolk County 
Law Enforcement Detail: On Jan. 2, Forest Rangers Hicks and Gagne participated in a Suffolk County Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council Multi-Agency ATV detail. During the detail, Ranger Hicks and three Suffolk County Park Rangers received a complaint of two Enduros (street legal dirt bikes) illegally operating in Brookhaven State Park. The officers responded to the area and attempted to stop the vehicles, at which time the operators fled the scene. The Rangers followed the two operators to their residence in Mastic, approximately 10 miles away. The operators were issued multiple summonses and both vehicles were impounded. While issuing summonses to the individuals, an officer in the area reported an ATV operating on a nearby roadway. Officers responded and the vehicle fled the scene, crashing into another vehicle. The operator fled on foot and was subsequently arrested. After further investigation, it was determined the operator had arrest warrants for Grand Larceny, Assault, and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation. The arrest was turned over to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. 

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hike Smart NY and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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