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DEC Contact: Jeff Wernick (518) 402-8000

December 05, 2023


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 2022, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 359 search and rescue missions, extinguished 162 wildfires covering more than 1,300 acres, participated in 53 prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate nearly 900 acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in hundreds of tickets and arrests.      


“With more people visiting State lands and enjoying New York's myriad, world-class outdoor recreational opportunities, DEC’s Forest Rangers are on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Each day, these highly trained first responders are protecting irreplaceable natural resources and utilizing their expert knowledge of wildland fire suppression, wilderness first aid, land navigation, law enforcement, and technical rescue techniques to successfully execute critical missions for DEC and our countless local, state, and national partners.”     


Essex County   

New eBikes: Forest Rangers are using two new electric bicycles in DEC’s Region 5 to minimize the use of motor vehicles in some campgrounds and reduce DEC’s carbon footprint. The e-bikes have an 80-mile range when fully charged and will be used for routine patrol, law enforcement, and search and rescue missions. To learn more, visit the DEC Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/NYSDEC/videos/two-brand-new-ebikes-are-now-in-decs-region-5-adirondacks-so-forest-rangers-can-/1544957136314463/ 


Rangers Ordway and Adams with new e-bikes (photo attached)


Town of Colchester 

Delaware County 

Law Enforcement: On Nov. 18, Forest Rangers Corey and Ellis received complaints about illegal ATV use and illegal tree stands on the Delaware Wild Forest. Rangers investigated the complaint and found two hunters with ATVs on State land. Rangers issued tickets for illegal ATV use, illegal tree cutting, and illegal baiting of deer. 


Town of Hyde Park 

Dutchess County 

Training: On Nov. 27, Forest Rangers Cowart and Russo taught the Basic Wildland Fire Suppression course to approximately 25 members of the Roosevelt Fire Department. On Dec. 2, Rangers Pries and Russo led participants in the field portion of the course. Rangers set up a mock fire scenario and had the volunteers dig a fire line using a variety of tools used in the field. 


Wildfire suppression training (photo attached)


Wildland fire suppression training (photo attached)


Town of Carmel 

Putnam County 

Public Outreach: On Nov. 30, Forest Ranger Pries attended a youth court meeting at the historic Putnam County Courthouse where the Ranger spoke to 20 high school students interested in law enforcement careers. Representatives from New York State Police and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office joined Ranger Pries to discuss how these agencies respond to various incidents, as well as how the agencies work together. 


Investigator Levine, Ranger Pries, Deputy Piqueras with K9 Harlen, Trooper Renzo, and Sergeant Piazza at youth court (photo attached)


Town of Shandaken 

Ulster County 

Public Outreach: On Dec. 2, Forest Rangers Horn and Sweeney participated in Big Indian Fire Department’s Winter Fair. Rangers posed for pictures with Smokey Bear and Santa and Mrs. Claus. 


Ranger Horn, Smokey Bear, Santa, and Mrs. Claus at the Winter Fair (photo attached)


Town of Shandaken 

Ulster County 

Public Outreach: On Dec. 2, Forest Rangers Horn and Sweeney taught a winter preparedness course at the Catskill 3500 Club. Rangers discussed the proper gear and techniques needed to give hikers the best chance for a safe hike during the winter months.  


Town of North Elba 

Essex County 

Wilderness Rescue: On Dec. 2 at 6 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the mother of two teenagers who needed help getting out of the woods. The 13- and 16-year-olds planned to run the flatter stretch of the McKenzie Mountain Trail. The teens lost track of time and the only lights they had were their phones, but the batteries were low. Forest Ranger Curcio hiked in and met the hikers two miles from the trailhead, provided headlamps, and helped the pair back to their mother’s vehicle. Resources were clear at 8:32 p.m. 


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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