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DEC Forest Rangers – Week in Review

For release: Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Recent Statewide Ranger Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rangers respond to search and rescue incidents throughout the state. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and retrieve lost, injured, or distressed people throughout the state of New York.

In 2021, DEC rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate hundreds of acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests.

“Over the past decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC has seen an increase in the number of people visiting state lands to experience New York City’s many outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC rangers continue to be on the front lines of helping visitors get out responsibly and return home safely, as well as protecting our state’s irreplaceable natural resources. first aid, land navigation and technical rescue skills are essential to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to whitewater rivers and through our vast statewide forests.”

Town of Watson
Lewis County
ATV accident:
At 3:30 p.m. Aug. 8, Ranger Evans responded to a call from a mountain biker who suffered a concussion on the Otter Creek Horse Trail about half a mile from the trailhead. When Ranger Evans reached the 54-year-old from Pennsylvania, the subject was complaining of knee and elbow injuries and had no memory of what had happened. The subject’s group indicated that he hit a maple syrup line causing him to be ejected from the bike. Ranger Evans provided first aid and did a spine assessment. Ranger Hanno, ECO Jarecki and Martinsburg Fire assisted in transporting the subject to a Lewis County Search and Rescue ambulance. Resources were clear at 5 p.m.

Towns of Haverstraw and Highlands
Orange and Rockland Counties
Forest fires :
On August 8, rangers responded to two wildfire calls at Harriman State Park, the first at 4:25 p.m. in the town of Highlands, Orange County, and the second at 4:47 p.m. the town of Haverstraw, Rockland County. . Rangers Pries and Rusher worked with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to secure a perimeter around the 2.6-acre Rockland County Fire. Thiells, Tallman, Hillcrest, Hillburn, Sloatsburg, Stony Point, Pearl River, Blauvelt, Congers, Munsey and New County Fire Departments also assisted. Ranger Pries then responded to the fire in the Highlands, where he helped Ranger Jahn build a line of fire. State Parks, Stony Point Fire, West Point Fire and Fort Montgomery Fire helped bring the six-acre blaze under control. On August 10, both fires were put on patrol. Video of the fire in Highlands is available on the DEC website.

Harriman State Park fire in the Highlands

large bright orange flames burn in a forest area
Harriman State Park fire in the Highlands

Forest Ranger dressed in a yellow firefighter outfit helps put out a forest fire
Harriman State Park fire in Haverstraw

Town of Brookhaven
Suffolk County
Forest fire :
On August 9 at 3 p.m., Ranger Gagne responded to a fire at the Yaphank landfill. At 9 p.m., the 1.9-acre fire was put on patrol. The following day, Rangers Gagne and Scott assisted the Pine Barrens Commission in extinguishing trouble spots. Responders also bulldozed a line of fire to prevent the fire from spreading. On August 14, the fire was declared extinguished.

Forest Rangers in the woods where it was recently burned by fire
Yaphank landfill fire

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wildfire Update:
The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area wildfire that started on August 7 is currently on patrol. Twelve rangers and four DEC-trained firefighters continued their suppression efforts throughout the week. The blaze is believed to have started as an unattended campfire before spreading to at least five acres. When weather permitted, Rangers worked with New York State Police Aviation to fly to a safe landing zone about a quarter mile from the fire. The Rangers also arrived by boat and traveled about three miles to the fire, which was on a cliff, about 300 feet above sea level.

DEC continues to urge New Yorkers to practice utmost safety when building campfires this summer. Dry weather in June and July increased the risk of fires. More information on how to reduce the risk of wildfires can be found on the DEC website.

Aerial view from a helicopter of a smoky forest fire below
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area Fire

Forest Ranger on a steep slope helping put out a forest fire
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area Fire

Town in the Putnam Valley
Putnam County
Forest fire :
At 4 p.m. on August 10, Forest Ranger Pries responded to a wildfire in Fahnestock State Park. The fire started as an unextinguished campfire that burned into the ground. Ranger Pries, State Parks staff and Putnam Valley Fire brought the blaze under control. DEC reminds campers never to leave a campfire unattended; even a light breeze could cause the fire to spread rapidly. When finished, campers are advised to drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals and sticks are moist. Move the stones as there may be embers underneath.

Scorched earth where fire burned leaves on the forest floor
Fahnestock State Park fire

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness rescue:
At 1:30 p.m. Aug. 13, Rangers Quinn, Sabo, and Savarie responded with assistant rangers to a call for a hiker with a knee injury on the Lillian Brook Trail. When Rangers reached the 51-year-old woman from Warrensburg, the hiker said she had dislocated her knee, but as a nurse she knew how to put it back in place. Rangers wrapped subject in wheeled litter and brought her back a mile and a half to the trailhead. Subject sought further medical attention on her own. Resources were clear at 7:10 p.m.

Rangers carrying an injured hiker on a wheeled litter on a trail in the woods
Lillian Brook Trail Rescue

Town of North Hudson
Lewis County
Wilderness rescue:
At 1:50 p.m. Aug. 14, Rangers Evans and Lee responded to a call for a subject injured by a horse. The 72-year-old from Owego was at the South Creek Horse Trails in the Independence River Wilderness. Ranger Evans reached the subject at 2:15 p.m. Her group said she was walking beside the horse when he reared up and descended on her. Subject complained of neck, chest, back, shoulder and arm pain. Rangers called for air assistance and wrapped the subject in litter to transport her half a mile to Moose Pines Road where Lewis County Search and Rescue met the group with an ambulance. Subject was transported to a landing area and airlifted to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse for treatment. Resources were clear at 5 p.m.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness rescue:
At 7:45 p.m. Aug. 14, Rangers Allwine and Gullen responded to a call from a hiker in distress near the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. Two adults and seven children had planned a trip from the Notch Lake trailhead to the fire tower, but did not leave until around 3:30 p.m. When the group reached the fire tower, they realized they lacked daylight and did not have the necessary headlamps, warm clothes or water. Rangers reached the group at 9:45 p.m. and helped the hikers back to the trailhead.

Even in the summer months, temperatures cool down at night in the mountains, putting people at risk of hypothermia. The Rangers remind everyone to know their limits, check the forecast and plan ahead.

night shot of a fire tower and Forest Ranger vehicles
mountain rescue hunter

Village of Oriskany
Oneida County
Ranger Academy:
The 23rd Forest Protection Division Basic Ranger School continued at the New York State Readiness Training Center in Oriskany. Ranger recruits recently received training in Swiftwater/Flood Rescue, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, Nature and Civil Disturbance Control, and Accident Management. Upon graduation, recruits will be assigned to patrol public lands across the state.

Two Rangers rookies on a yellow raft in the water during training
Rangers recruits to swiftwater/flood rescue training

Two Rangers rookies come for air in the water during training
Rangers recruits to swiftwater/flood rescue training

Rangers rookies take a group photo outside the whitewater training area
Rangers recruits to swiftwater/flood rescue training

Be sure to prepare and plan well before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NY, Adirondack Backcountry Information, and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.

If anyone needs a ranger, whether for search and rescue, reporting a wildfire, or reporting illegal activity on state lands and easements, they should call 833- NYS-RANGERS. If someone needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for each ranger listed by region.

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