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DEC Contact: Jeff Wernick (518) 402-8000

February 27, 2024


Recent Statewide 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 2023, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 370 search and rescue missions, extinguished 146 wildfires covering nearly 1,400 acres, participated in 52 prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate more than 1,000 acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in hundreds of tickets and arrests.  


“DEC Forest Rangers are among the nation’s most versatile first responders, utilizing their expert training and wide-ranging knowledge to protect natural resources while encouraging responsible stewardship among those who visit State lands and sites,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Their expertise in wildland fire suppression, technical rescue techniques, and law enforcement mean that Rangers are always prepared to successfully execute critical missions, here in New York State, as well as across the continent.” 


Town of Stamford 

Delaware County 

Training: On Feb. 18, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Breigle and Rangers Bink and Laymon participated in flat ice rescue training with the Delaware County Technical Rescue Team. Rescuers practiced multiple flat ice rescue techniques including the use of throw bags and an inflatable boat. The training is essential, especially because this winter’s weather has not been consistently cold enough for many local bodies of water to completely freeze over. More information about recreating safely on ice is available at DEC’s website. 


Flat ice rescue training in Stamford (photo attached)


Town of Brookhaven 

Suffolk County 

Prescribed Fire: On Feb. 20, Forest Rangers Gagne, Gallagher, and Scott joined staff and volunteers from DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Central Pine Barrens Commission to conduct a prescribed fire in the Rocky Point Natural Resource Management Area. Firefighters completed a successful burn of 25 burn piles. These controlled burns make the forest more resilient to the invasive southern pine beetle and help reduce fuel loads to better prevent wildfires that could impact public safety in nearby communities. 


Rangers join partners at prescribed fire in Brookhaven (photo attached)

Town of North Elba 

Essex County 

Wilderness Rescue: On Feb. 20 at 1:20 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call to assist an ice climber who fell while climbing Pitchoff Mountain, injuring his hip. The 73-year-old from Massachusetts was on the Jackrabbit Ski Trail off Old Mountain Road. Using a rope system, seven Forest Rangers lowered the patient and stabilized him in a rescue toboggan. Rangers attached the toboggan to a snowmobile and rode the patient to a Lake Placid ambulance waiting at the trailhead. Resources were clear at 4:10 p.m.  


Ice climber rescue on Jackrabbit Ski Trail (two photos attached)


City of Hudson 

Columbia County 

Public Outreach: On Feb. 20, Forest Ranger Jackson talked to Boy Scouts about fire safety at the Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) Museum of Firefighting. Ranger Jackson demonstrated how to start and put out a cooking fire and how to use a camp stove, as well as explaining the role humans play in wildfires and wildfire prevention. Thanks to lessons from Ranger Jackson and FASNY staff, 60 Boy Scouts earned their fire safety merit badges. 


Ranger Jackson teaches Boy Scouts about fire safety (two photos attached)


Town of New Paltz 

Ulster County 

Training: On Feb. 23, members of DEC’s Department of Forest Protection’s Search Advisory Committee joined local Forest Rangers and supervisors for a presentation by the Cellular Analysis Survey Team (CAST). CAST is a program led by the FBI to support state, local, and tribal agencies with investigations through the analysis of cellular phone records and associated tower information. Forest Rangers use this technology to help find people lost in the wilderness. 


Cellular Analysis Survey Team training (photo attached)


Village of Pittsford 

Monroe County 

Public Outreach: On Feb. 24, Forest Ranger Raffaldi-Smith teamed up with Public Participation Specialist Pedrick and Environmental Educator Ukeritis to celebrate the 3rd Annual Festival of Inclusion. The event was held at the Golisano Training Center at Nazareth College and organized by the Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics of New York, and Best Buddies of New York to spread disability awareness through organized games and sports. Ranger Raffaldi-Smith was joined by Smokey Bear and talked about the importance of fire safety.


Ranger Raffaldi-Smith and PPS Pedrick at the Festival of Inclusion (photo attached)


Town of Franklin 

Franklin County 

Training: On Feb. 24, Forest Ranger Lieutenant LaPierre and Rangers Ordway, Rooney, and Quinn conducted rescue training for fire departments and rescue squads. Akwesasne Mohawk, Bloomingdale, Duane, and Paul Smiths Gabriels Fire Departments joined Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake Rescue Squads and the Tri-Lake Snowmobile Association to respond to a scenario where four snowmobilers crashed into a groomer. The training helps solidify the working relationships among Rangers and partners.  


Snowmobile accident training (photo attached)


Town of Mendon 

Monroe County 

Training: On Feb. 25, Forest Rangers Dormer and Raffaldi-Smith conducted wheeled litter training for members of the Massasauga Search and Rescue Team at Mendon Ponds Park. Rangers helped simulate rescues with different patients and various terrain so rescuers can better use the wheeled litter in the event of a rescue. 


Wheeled litter training (photo attached)


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. 


If a person needs a Forest Ranger, whether it's for a search and rescue, to report a wildfire, or to report illegal activity on state lands and easements, they should call 833-NYS-RANGERS. If a person needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a Forest Ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for every Ranger listed by region: http://on.ny.gov/NYSForestRangerRoster  

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