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 Speculator
Wilderness Search: On Sept. 8 at 4:37 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a 24-year-old despondent man from New Jersey heading to the Siamese Pond Wilderness Area. Rangers Kerr and Thompson responded along with New York State Police (NYSP) and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Officers. The subject’s vehicle was located, and Rangers searched areas he was likely to be found, without success. The next morning a command post was established at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and search efforts continued with a team of six Forest Rangers. At 12:21 p.m., Rangers located the man’s camp, but he wasn’t there. Two hours later, Rangers found the subject and carried him out of the woods. He was transported to a medical facility for evaluation. Resources were clear from the scene at 5:12 p.m.
Village of Montour Falls
Wildland Fire Training: On Sept. 8 and 9, Forest Rangers Roberts, Dormer, Carpenter, and Lt. Wickens held a Basic Wildland Fire Suppression class at the New York State Fire Academy in Montour Falls. More than 40 firefighter trainees from across the state fulfilled their requirements for wildland fire training with a mixture of classroom and field components that included an introduction to fire tools and a Type-4 engine (used to drive over rough terrain and hold a 750-gallon water tank). The course focused on wildland fire behavior and tactics for suppression and emphasized fundamental differences between wildland and structure fires. Rangers often lead abbreviated wildland fire courses for municipalities to instruct local responders.
Ranger Carpenter instructing a fire course (photo attached)
Wildland Fire: On Sept. 9 at 2:50 p.m., Hamilton County 911 received a report of a wildland fire in a tree at the end of Northpoint Road in Raquette Lake. Forest Ranger Sabo responded and located a large, white pine snag (any dead or dying standing tree) with approximately 30 feet burned around the base. Ranger Milano responded to assist with fire suppression. Rangers extinguished the fire, likely caused by a lightning strike, by 5:50 p.m. Ranger Milano checked the fire the next day and found some warmth around the roots, but no active smoke or fire. Using hand tools, the Ranger dug out the roots and put more water on the hot spots.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 10 at 4:52 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio call from the Johns Brook Lodge Caretaker reporting that a 45-year-old woman from Pennsylvania had fallen off a bridge near the outpost in the High Peaks Wilderness Area and required medical assistance. Assistant Forest Ranger McLenithan responded to the hiker’s location. Rangers Mecus and Lewis responded with Essex County Paramedics and Keene Valley Fire Department to assist the hiker out of the woods. By 7:30 p.m., the woman was out of the woods and transported by ambulance for further medical care.
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 10 at 6:50 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a distressed hiker near MacIntyre Falls on the Algonquin Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The 27-year-old man from Brooklyn was unprepared for the weather and requested assistance. Lt. Burns spoke with the hiker by phone and determined he needed Ranger assistance to get out of the woods. The man was assisted by another hiker who volunteered to help him down the trail. Ranger O’Connor responded and met up with the distressed hiker and assisted him to his vehicle at the Adirondak Loj trailhead at 8:24 p.m.
Town of Watson
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 11 at 12:52 p.m., Lewis County 911 received a report of a 40-year-old kayaker from Attica with a knee injury on the Beaver River near Eagle Falls. The kayaker injured his knee while walking along the shoreline and was unable to put weight on it. Lewis County notified Forest Ranger Evans who located a member of the kayaker’s group. Ranger Evans directed rescuers to the location. The kayaker was packaged into a litter for a half-mile carry out to the trailhead. Lewis County Deputy Sheriff, Lewis County Search and Rescue, Croghan Fire Department, and the kayaker’s group assisted with the carry out. The kayaker was transferred to an ambulance and transported to a local hospital for further treatment. All responders were clear at 2:25 p.m.
Kayaker rescued at Beaver River (photo attached)
Town of Johnsburg
Wildland Rescue: On Sept. 11 at 1:35 p.m., Warren County 911 advised DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch of a 38-year-old hiker from Albany with an ankle injury on Crane Mountain in the Wilcox Lake State Forest. Forest Rangers Kerr, Perryman, Quinn, and Assistant Forest Ranger Haker responded, along with Johnsburg Fire and Rescue. Due to the remote location of the rescue, NYSP aviation was requested. The hiker was hoisted into the NYSP helicopter by Crew Chief Ranger Kerr, flown to a landing zone, and transferred to the Johnsburg Ambulance for transport to Glens Falls Hospital. Responders were clear of the scene at 6:40 p.m. Video link to the rescue: https://youtu.be/OWxA9jDDc90
Ranger Quinn preparing the hiker for a hoist off the mountain (photo attached)
Hiker being hoisted up into NYSP helicopter (photo attached)
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 11 at 3 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch was called by a hiker reporting a 43-year-old woman from Morrisonville had injured her ankle on the trail to Street and Nye mountains in the Eastern High Peaks. Forest Ranger Evans responded and located the injured woman, who was being helped down the trail by four hikers. Six additional Rangers and two Assistant Forest Rangers hiked in with rescue equipment. The woman was carried out to the trailhead and given a courtesy ride to Lake Placid Hospital. All resources were clear at 7:40 p.m.
Rescuers and volunteers carry the hiker using a backpack carrier (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: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/667.html