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 North Elba
Wilderness Search: On July 22 at 11 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a pair of hikers reporting that a member of their party was overdue from hiking Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Forest Ranger LaPierre responded to the Adirondak Loj parking lot to interview the reporting party. At 1:36 a.m., Ranger LaPierre located the 33-year-old subject from New York City up the trail from Marcy Dam. The subject had suffered a knee injury, was unable to walk, and likely dehydrated. The Ranger splinted the injury, and provided the hiker with warmth, food, and water. She escorted the hiker back to the outpost and set him up in a sleeping bag so he could rest while the Ranger continued back to the Loj. Ranger LaPierre then drove a UTV in to pick up the subject, and at 4:45 a.m., the hiker was reunited with his party and taken for further medical care.
Town of Denning
Nuisance Wildlife Training: On July 23, Region 3 Division of Fish and Wildlife staff provided information about nuisance bears to Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, and Stewards in the Sundown Wild Forest Area of the Peekamoose Valley Riparian Corridor. Topics included bear behavior and bear hazing methods to help change bear behavior and avoid conflicts with humans. Recently, this area has experienced an uptick in contact with nuisance bears because of food and garbage left behind by recreating visitors. While the DEC training was taking place, one of the problem bears showed up and was hazed with rubber buckshot. This spring, DEC launched the 'Love Our New York Lands' campaign to encourage New Yorkers to be prepared, stay safe, and minimize damage to public resources through the use of Leave No Trace TM and other practices. In addition, for information about how New Yorkers can reduce conflicts with bears, visit DEC’s website, https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html.
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Rescue: On July 23 at approximately 6 p.m., Greene County 911 Dispatch contacted Forest Ranger Fox regarding an injured 49-year-old hiker from South River, New Jersey, on the Kaaterskill Falls Trail. Forest Ranger Fox responded to the hiker’s location with Rangers Brand, Franceschina, Gullen, Nelson, and Slade. Once on scene, the hiker’s ankle was splinted and she was carried out in a Stokes basket by Rangers, personnel from the Cedar Grove/Centerville Fire Department, Greene County Medics, Haines Falls Fire Department, Twin Cloves Rescue Team, and Tannersville Rescue Squad. At 10:45 p.m., the hiker was brought to the trailhead on Route 23A and transported to a local hospital by Hunter Ambulance.
Wakely Dam Ultra Marathon
Planned Event: On July 24, Forest Rangers Nally, Scott, and Lomnitzer and Assistant Forest Ranger O’Connell, along with Piseco EMS, provided event and emergency response support for the Wakely Dam Ultra Marathon. The 60-person ultra-marathon began at Wakely Dam in the Moose River Plains Recreational Area and continued down the Northville Lake Placid Trail through the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area ending at the Piseco Airport in the town of Arietta. Forest Rangers coordinated with race officials and prepositioned themselves in the interior of the wilderness, where they were able to assist and evacuate two injured race participants during the 10-hour race.
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Rescue: On July 24 at 5:15 p.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch contacted Forest Ranger Fox regarding a 67-year-old hiker from Saugerties who had fallen on the Escarpment Trail near North Lake. Forest Ranger Fox and Assistant Forest Rangers France and Lasselle administered first aid to the hiker. With the help of Greene County Paramedics, Haines Falls Fire Department, Hunter Ambulance, Hunter Police Department, and Tannersville Rescue Squad, responders carried the subject out of the woods. At 6:30 p.m., she was transported to a local hospital by Hunter Ambulance.
Town of Fort Ann
Wilderness Search: On July 24 at 7:22 p.m., Forest Rangers Donegan and Savarie responded to a call for help from a group of hikers on Buck Mountain in the Lake George Wilderness Area. The hikers reported that while exploring the summit of the mountain, a 14-year-old hiker from Mahwah, New Jersey, walked away from the group and was missing. While Rangers were hiking in to meet the party, the missing girl made her way off the mountain to a trailhead on the other side. Ranger Donegan met up with the group of hikers and escorted them off the mountain, reuniting them with the missing girl at 11:25 p.m.
Forest Ranger Contact Information Update: DEC has moved to a single number for dispatch. If a person needs a Forest Ranger, for a search and rescue or to report a wildfire, they should call 833-NYS-RANGERS. People in need of urgent assistance should continue to call 911. To contact a Forest Ranger for information about a specific location, visit the DEC website https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/667.html.
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.