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DEC Contact: Jeff Wernick (518) 402-8000

February 14, 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 Wells 

Hamilton County 

Trail Maintenance: On Feb. 7, with approval and support from DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, Forest Rangers Hamm, Nally, and Thompson joined members of the Algonquin Sno-Blazers snowmobile club to reset a snowmobile and hiking bridge displaced during early season rain and snow melt. Rangers and club members used old telephone poles and a high-strength come-along ratchet puller to slide the bridge back across the creek to allow a safe crossing for snowmobiles, snowshoers, and skiers. The Algonquin Sno-Blazers club was established in 1970. Members volunteer to maintain more than 55 miles of trails in Hamilton County. 


Snowmobile and hiking bridge before (photo attached)


Snowmobile and hiking bridge after (photo attached)


Town of Wilton 

Saratoga County 

Wilderness Search: On Feb. 7 at 5:45 p.m., Forest Ranger Nahor was on patrol and overheard a radio call for help with a search for a subject with dementia. Ranger Nahor joined New York State Police (NYSP) searching areas near the missing 85-year-old's home. At 6:50 p.m., Ranger Nahor and NYSP found the subject laying down, in pain, at a nearby golf course. Ranger Hess arrived to help assess the subject. Rangers transferred care to EMS and DEC resources were clear at 7 p.m. 


City of Albany  

Albany County   

Prescribed Fire: On Feb. 8, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Slade and Ranger Nally joined Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff to conduct a prescribed fire in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Approximately 22 acres were burned. Prescribed fires help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. 


Prescribed burn in Albany Pine Bush (two photos attached)


Town of Southampton 

Suffolk County 

Prescribed Fire: On Feb. 8 Forest Rangers Gagne, Gallagher, and Scott joined DEC Division of Lands and Forests staff and volunteers and staff from Brookhaven National Lab and the Central Pine Barrens Commission to conduct a prescribed fire in the David A. Sarnoff Pine Barrens State Forest. Firefighters completed a successful burn of 67 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 nearby communities. 

Prescribed burn in Southampton (photo attached)


Town of Arietta 

Hamilton County 

Vehicle Stuck: While on patrol on Feb. 10 at 10 a.m., Forest Ranger Thompson was flagged down by a subject walking on Route 10. The 36-year-old from Plattsburg had rented a car the previous day to drive to the southern Adirondacks and got stuck on Powley Road in Ferris Lake Wild Forest. In the winter, the road is a groomed snowmobile trail that connects Fulton and Hamilton County trail networks. The subject spent the night in the car to stay warm and found Ranger Thompson in the morning while looking for cell service. Ranger Thompson worked with Hamilton County to secure a tow service, but none were available. Hamilton County contacted the town of Arietta, which offered its tracked groomer to assist. Ranger Thompson and the groomer operator located the vehicle four miles southwest of Route 10 and pulled the vehicle back to the pavement. At 3 p.m., they reunited the driver and vehicle. 


Powley Road vehicle recovery (photo attached)


Town of Shandaken 

Ulster County 

Wilderness Search: On Feb. 11 at 5:50 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch notified Forest Ranger Horn about two hikers lost in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. Coordinates obtained by Dispatch placed the 28- and 31-year-old subjects near the summit. The pair from Dolgeville and Herkimer lost the trail as darkness set in and called 911. Ranger Horn called one hiker’s cell phone and helped guide the pair a short distance back to the trail. The hikers shared tracking information with Ranger Horn to ensure they made it back to the trailhead. At 8:30 p.m., the hikers reached the trailhead where they were met by New York State Police and Shandaken Police. 

Town of Grafton 

Rensselaer County 

Training: On Feb. 12, Forest Rangers Allwine, Dawson, Jackson, and Martin conducted flat ice rescue training for 12 New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation staff. Rangers demonstrated various rescue techniques, including how to throw a rope and help pull a victim to safety. The training is essential as weather to date has not been consistently cold enough for many local bodies of water to completely freeze over. Video of the training is available to download: https://www.dec.ny.gov/fs/programs/press/ForestRangers/FlatIceRescueTraining1080p.mp4 


An interview with Ranger Steve Jackson is available to download: https://www.dec.ny.gov/fs/programs/press/ForestRangers/FlatIceRescueInterview1080p.mp4 


More information about ice safety is available at DEC’s website. 


Ranger Jackson conducting flat ice rescue training (photo attached)


Flat ice rescue training (two photos 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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