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 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 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 is 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.”
Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:
Town of Hunter
Vertical Ice Climbing Training: On Feb. 5, Forest Rangers from DEC’s Region 4 trained with Alpine Endeavors, a local climbing guide service, on vertical ice climbing techniques. Forest Rangers Lt. Dave Pachan, Rob Dawson, Dave Nally, Hannah O’Connor, Melissa Milano, and Dylan McCartney participated. Five guides from Alpine Endeavors led the training event in the Kaaterskill Clove off State Route 23A in the town of Hunter. The training gave the Rangers the opportunity to climb vertical ice walls and employ rope gear in cold weather. Vertical ice climbing is a popular winter recreational activity enjoyed by many people this time of year in the Catskill Mountains. Rangers train to bolster their climbing experience and to better prepare for winter rescues. Last year, certified guides assisted Rangers on a backcountry rescue at a popular ice climbing spot in the Indian Head Wilderness off Platte Clove Road.
Ranger Dawson on belay (Left) with Ranger Milano climbing the wall (Right) (photo attached)
Ranger Milano climbing the ice wall (photo attached)
Ranger Nally climbing the ice wall (photo attached)
Town of Wilmington
Search for Missing Skier: On Feb. 7, DEC Forest Rangers were called just after 4:30 p.m., to assist in the multi-agency search for missing skier Constantinos “Danny” Filippidis, 49, of Toronto, Canada, who was last seen at Whiteface Mountain resort’s mid-station around 2:30 p.m. Since that time, more than 40 DEC Forest Rangers have worked with the New York State Police, staff from Whiteface Mountain, and the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Office of Fire Prevention Services (OFPC), Whiteface and Gore Mountain ski patrols, United States Customs and Border Protection, Toronto Fire Services, and other organizations and volunteers. More than 135 searchers have spent over 7,000 man hours on the mountain in the search efforts, which have been challenging due to rugged terrain and varying winter weather conditions.
Anyone that may have seen Filippidis on the mountain or was using a Go Pro camera during their time at the mountain on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, is asked to call the New York State Police at 518-873-2750.
Town of Cheektowaga
Public Presentation on Ice Rescue Techniques: Forest Rangers from Region 9 participated in the Reinstein Woods annual Winter Wonderland event last weekend. Rangers trained in flat ice rescue techniques in the morning and gave ice rescue demonstrations in the afternoon. Ranger Justin Thaine educated onlookers about flat ice rescue techniques and general ice safety. The public asked questions about ice safety, as well as Forest Ranger experiences and rescue responsibilities.
Spectators watch DEC Forest Rangers teach ice rescue techniques (photo attached)
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28708.html) and Adirondack Backcountry Information (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html) webpage for more information.