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 the backcountry.
In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 tickets or arrests.
"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."
Town of Long Lake
Wilderness Rescue: On Nov. 14 at 8:10 p.m., Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance with a search for an 82-year-old overdue hunter near Sagamore Lake. The hunter from Chittenango went out earlier in the day but had not been heard from since and his vehicle was still parked at Great Camp Sagamore. His son became concerned as night was settling in and called for assistance to locate his father. Forest Rangers Gary Miller and Jason Scott responded to the location to begin a ground search with other emergency responders. With fresh snow covering the wilderness area, the Rangers quickly found the hunter’s trail. At 10:08 p.m., it was relayed that New York State Police were with the hunter back at his vehicle. The subject had walked out on his own, a bit later than planned.
Town of Middleburgh
Wilderness Rescue: On Nov. 14 at 10:40 p.m., Lt. Dave Pachan reported that he was contacted by a Captain with the New York State Police (NYSP) requesting Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a 28-year-old woman from Middleburgh. The subject was last seen on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m., near her cabin on her 300-acre farm. Forest Rangers Christine Nelson, Dylan McCartney, and Jason Seeley responded to assist Schoharie County Sheriff’s Deputies, NYSP K-9 units, and NYSP Aviation with the search. On Nov. 15 at 2:10 a.m., the missing woman was located and found to be severely hypothermic. Rescuers carried the woman out of the woods to a waiting ambulance and transported her to a local hospital. All Rangers were cleared of the scene at 3:30 a.m. and back in service.
Town of Benson
Wilderness Rescue: On Nov. 16 at 9:38 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man concerned he had not heard from his ex-wife who was late for an appointment. He last spoke to her at 2 p.m., as she was leaving to hike an approximately 12-mile section of the Northville-Placid Trail between Benson and Northville. The caller suspected that the 36-year-old woman from Gloversville was hiking alone. He located her vehicle at the Benson Trailhead. Forest Rangers Ian Kerr, Andrew Lewis, and Jason Scott responded. At 12:43 a.m., Forest Ranger Kerr advised DEC’s Central Dispatch that they had located the woman who was experiencing pain in her right leg. The Rangers began walking her out of the woods. Once back at the trailhead, the hiker was transported to a local hospital by the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps for further medical treatment. All Rangers were cleared from the scene a short time later.
City of Beacon
Wilderness Rescue: On Nov. 17 at 4 p.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call from Dutchess County 911 requesting assistance with a female hiker with an unstable lower leg injury on Mount Beacon. She was reported to be on the Wilkinson Trail at Break Neck Ridge. Forest Rangers Matthew Hettenbaugh and Mark Brand responded to assist. Forest Ranger Brand contacted New York State Park Police and the original caller to get more information. The caller informed Forest Ranger Brand that he is part of a hiking club and that the injured 57-year-old hiker from New York City belonged to this group. The group was providing care to the injured hiker but requested assistance to move the woman back to the trailhead. Considering the distance from the trailhead to the group’s location, Forest Ranger Hettenbaugh responded to the trailhead with a six-wheel UTV. Upon Ranger Brand’s arrival, he spoke with Park Police and began hiking to the woman with Park staff. Ranger Hettenbaugh arrived at the trailhead and was informed by park staff that Mount Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps had taken a UTV up the blue trail and were assisting the hiker. The Ambulance Corps assessed the injury and gave the subject a ride back to the trailhead. The hiker and all rescuers were cleared of the scene by 8:45 p.m.
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.