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DEC Forest Rangers – Week in Review

For release: Tuesday, June 14, 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 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.”

City of Wallkill
Orange County
Wilderness research:
On June 6, rangers were called in to assist in the search for a 26-year-old whose family were concerned for his welfare after the subject left a rehabilitation center near Crystal Run Road in Middletown . Rangers Cowart, Jahn and Parlier searched the area. Shortly after, Rangers found the subject in the woods, unharmed. The Rangers pulled him out of the woods and turned the matter over to Walkill Police.

City of Wilmington
Essex County
End of guard tour:
On June 9, hundreds paid their respects at a memorial for Ranger Captain Christopher Kostoss. Captain Kostoss committed suicide on May 31. He served as a Ranger for 23 years and participated in countless search and rescue missions. Commissioner Basil Seggos described him as “a tireless advocate for mental health awareness, especially among his fellow Rangers. His death is a painful reminder of the critical need to promote wellness and de-stigmatize health issues. that prevent individuals from seeking treatment”. Kostoss was 49 years old.


Captain Ranger Kostoss Memorial

DEC commissioner and rangers line up during memorial service
Captain Ranger Kostoss Memorial

Catskill Village
Greene County
Wilderness rescue:
At 5:40 p.m. June 9, Rangers Fox and Gullen responded to a report of a 65-year-old hiker from Oneonta with an unstable leg injury on the Poet’s Ledge Trail in the Kaaterskill Wilderness. Rangers located the subject about two miles down the trail and stabbed him in the right knee. Using crutches, the Rangers helped the hiker down the trail until they were met by Rangers Allwine and Dawson with a litter to carry the hiker to their UTV. The group reached the trailhead at 11:53 p.m. and the hiker refused to seek treatment.

Rangers and hikers with headlamps walking towards UTV
Hiker rescued in Kaaterskill Wilderness

Town of Hunter, Villages of Honeoye Falls and Sherburne
Chenango, Greene and Monroe Counties
Public awareness:
On June 11, DEC in partnership with the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) (leaves DEC website) and the New York State Division of Veterans Services, hosted a free event to connect people to nature and provide increased access to the outdoors. “Get Outdoors and Get Together Day” brings people of all abilities, ages, identities and backgrounds together for fun and wholesome activities on state land. Ranger Lt. Wickens attended the event at Mendon Ponds Park in Monroe County with DEC staff to help coordinate efforts, educate the public about the duties of a ranger, and answer questions.

Rangers Lunt and Murphy participated in Get Outdoors and Get Together Day at the Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne. The exhibit included an airboat and other water rescue equipment. The Rangers held a throw bag challenge where children could learn how to use a water rescue throw bag and attempt to throw the bag at a target simulating a swimmer in distress.

Ranger Lt. Pachan participated in Get Outdoors and Get Together Day at the North-South Lake Campground. The exhibit on the campground included the “tools of the trade” of a ranger, so visitors can learn about the responsibilities of a ranger and how to recreate safely and responsibly.

Ranger holding baby goat
Ranger Wickens at the Get Outdoors and Get Together Day in Honeoye Falls

Rangers, ECOs and DEC staff pose for a photo outside
Honeoye Falls Outdoors and Gathering Day – ECO Jankowski, ECO Johnston, Ariel Thomas of DEC Fish and Wildlife Division, DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Sean Mahar, DEC Region 8 Director Tim Walsh , ECO Investigator Lieutenant Didion, ECO Fuerch, Ranger Wickens

children learning to use fishing rods
Outdoor and Gathering Day at Honeoye Falls

Rangers standing next to an airboat and two blue kayaks
Rangers Lunt and Murphy at Get Outdoors and Get Together Day in Sherburne

Ranger stands at an information table under a pavilion
Ranger Pachan at the Get Outdoors and Get Together Day at North-South Lake Campground

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Rope rescue training:
On June 12, Ranger Lt. Hoag, Ranger McCartney, and Deputy Ranger Bolton conducted rope rescue training with the Old Forge Fire Department at Bald Mountain. Rangers and fire department members looked at packing the patient with a wheeled stretcher, anchor systems, and configuring a component-based system for low-angle rescues. The training resulted in 10 junior firefighters being licensed to participate in the rope rescues that commonly occur along the trail to the Bald Mountain Fire Tower. This joint training familiarizes personnel with the equipment used by both agencies to undertake rescues together.

group of people learning different rope rescue techniques from rangers in the woods
Rope rescue training

Town of Fine
St. Lawrence County
Ranger Academy:
This month, the Forest Protection Division sued the 23rd Basic Ranger School housed on the campus of the SUNY ESF Ranger School in Wanakena. Ranger recruits received training in criminal procedural law, criminal law, fitness and welfare as part of basic police officer training. Rangers recruits also completed their first physical fitness test. Upon graduation, recruits will be assigned to patrol public lands across the state.

Rangers gather around a vehicle on an education day
Ranger recruits participate in basic police 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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