DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review (2024)

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.

“Whether they are leading complex search and rescue incidents, suppressing wildfires, enforcing laws on State lands and easem*nts, inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards, or encouraging responsible recreation, Forest Rangers stand ready to help when called,” DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said. “Forest Rangers’ wide-ranging expertise and collaboration with local, State, and federal partners are instrumental in protecting New York’s public lands and the many visitors who use them.”

Hamlet of Wanakena
St. Lawrence County
Ranger Academy: On May 19, DEC opened the 24th Basic School for Forest Rangers for the newest class of Ranger recruits at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) Ranger School. Eleven recruits signed in Sunday night and started training; two withdrew from the academy during opening week. There are currently seven men and two women in this recruit class.Throughout the week, recruits received training in physical fitness and wellness, introduction to law including constitutional law, cultural diversity, basic computer skills, and general academy orientation.

DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review (1)

24th Basic School begins

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24th Basic School begins

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Training:From May 19 to 24, Assistant Forest Rangers (AFRs) attended training at the SUNY ESF campus in Newcomb. Assistant Forest Rangers received training in wilderness first aid, public interaction, map and compass, Leave No TraceTMprinciples, and a basic wildfire course. Twelve AFRs are assigned to the Adirondacks, five are assigned to the Catskills, and four AFRs are stationed in DEC Regions 8 and 9.

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2024 Assistant Forest Rangers

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Ranger Milano at AFR wildfire training

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Ranger Dawson at AFR wilderness first aid training

City of Rochester
Monroe County
Training:On May 20, Forest Rangers Balerno and Cordell instructed a refresher class for Rangers from DEC Regions 7 and 8 on calling in water bucket drops using buckets attached to New York State Police (NYSP) helicopters. During the training at Braddock Bay Park, Rangers that were ground support practiced calling in drops while crew chiefs in the helicopter practiced their skills in deploying the water bucket drops.

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Braddock Bay bucket training

Town of Pittstown
Rensselaer County
Wilderness Search: On May 20 at 2:15 p.m., New York State Police (NYSP) requested Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a despondent 57-year-old from Pittstown. The subject was last seen at her residence the previous night. Ranger Jackson arrived at 3 p.m. and conducted linear searches along Route 7. NYSP provided aviation and drone search assistance. Rangers Clute, Fox, and Seeley joined the search and at 7 p.m., Ranger Clute’s crew located the subject approximately 600 feet from Phillips Road. Ranger Clute and local fire departments carried the subject to a Pittstown ambulance. Resources were clear at 8:30 p.m.

If you or someone you know needs mental health assistance, help is available. 988 is a free 24-hour hotline to call or text anywhere in New York. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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Pittstown search

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:On May 20 at 2:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance for a hiker at Rainbow Falls who had been hit in the head by a falling rock. Rangers helped stop the bleeding and brought the subject to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve trailhead where he drove himself to seek further care.

Town of Brookhaven
Suffolk County
Prescribed Fires: On May 21, Forest Rangers joined DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, Central Pine Barrens, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife to conduct a prescribed fire on 3.5 acres in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest.

Prescribed fire is an important land management tool used to improve habitat for lands and wildlife. These burns are regulated by law and regulation and require technical expertise to conduct safely. Controlled burns help prevent the spread of invasive species, and in some areas, prescribed fire is also used to reduce the buildup of wood, timber litter, and other fuel to reduce the potential for wildfires that threaten public safety and critical infrastructure. DEC carefully and responsibly implements prescribed fires only when conditions are favorable to meet land management goals.

Village of Saranac Lake
Franklin County
Public Outreach: On May 22, Forest Ranger Lieutenant LaPierre and Ranger Adams spoke to more than 200 students at Petrova Elementary School. The Rangers let the students try out the backpack carriers used during rescues. The students also met Smokey Bear and learned about fire safety.

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Petrova Elementary students use backpack carriers

Town of Hunter
Greene County
Accident Response: On May 23, Forest Ranger Peterson responded to a call for a subject that had been shocked by a power line. Ranger Peterson, Hunter Police, and Greene County Sheriff’s Deputies performed CPR and regained a pulse. EMS arrived quickly and transported the patient to the hospital.

Town of Colonie
Albany County
Training: On May 23, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Nally, Savarie, and Stratton participated with New York State Police (NYSP) Pilots on bucket training. NYSP and Rangers work closely during wildfires doing bucket drops to help prevent fires from spreading. Each bucket holds up to 300 gallons of water.

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Bucket training in Colonie; photo courtesy of NYSP

Town of Moreau
Saratoga County
Public Outreach: On May 23, Forest Rangers Clute and Hess attended the Moreau Middle School Conservation Day at Moreau Lake State Park. Rangers discussed fire management and the difference between a wildfire and a prescribed fire.

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Moreau fire safety demonstration

Town of Royalton
Niagara County
Law Enforcement:On May 23, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Kennedy and Ranger Cordell investigated a report of a boat and trailer dumped at Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area (WMA) with trash left inside the boat. After interviewing numerous subjects, Rangers tracked down the responsible party, ticketed them for a State land violation, and ordered him to remove the boat and trailer.

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Boat dumped at Tonawanda WMA

Village of Monticello
Sullivan County
Training: On May 23 and 24, Forest Ranger Defensive Tactics instructors O’Connell, Parlier, and Pries held a training refresher course for Rangers in DEC Region 3 at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department. Instructors reviewed control techniques for compliant and non-compliant subjects and the applicable policy and laws governing when these control techniques may be used.

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Defensive tactics training

Town of Persia
Cattaraugus County
Wilderness Rescue: On May 23 at 7:58 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Cattaraugus County Dispatch about a hiker in distress at the Zoar Valley Unique Area.Forest Ranger Acting Lieutenant Hettenbaugh and Rangers Skudlarek and Sprague responded to the access point at Valentine Flats along with the Gowanda Fire Department and assisted a 56-year-old and his son who had kayaked from the North Otto Road access point. The pair set out with a larger group to kayak to Gowanda but decided to cut their paddle short and call for emergency assistance to provide navigation and lead them out of the gorge area to the trailhead.

Town of Shandaken
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:On May 25 at 4:50 p.m., Forest Rangers Rusher and Stratton responded to a 23-year-old hiker with muscle weakness and leg cramps on Wittenberg Mountain. Other hikers saw the dehydrated hiker from New Jersey and gave him food and water, but he was unable to stand on his own. Ranger Rusher reached the subject at 7 p.m. and provided more nourishment. Taking multiple breaks along the way, Rusher and Stratton helped the subject to the trailhead where an ambulance from Shandaken was waiting. Resources were clear at 10:05 p.m. DEC reminds hikers to be prepared by eating and hydrating prior to attempting a difficult hike.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:On May 25 at 5:25 p.m., DEC Dispatch received a call from an injured hiker approximately one-half mile from Upper Wolf Jaw Mountain. New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation responded with Forest Ranger Praczkajlo and NYSP Pilot Engel. Forest Ranger O’Connor harnessed the subject so that Ranger Praczkajlo and Pilot Engel could hoist the hiker into the helicopter and fly her to the hospital.

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Ranger Praczkajlo and Wolf Jaw Mountain hiker

Town of Colton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue:On May 25 at 6:49 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a concerned parent regarding two hikers in their 20s in distress on the Cranberry Lake 50 trail. The hikers were dehydrated and suffering from leg cramps. Forest Ranger Shea met the pair on the Brandy Brook trail and escorted them to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 10 p.m.

Village of Lowville
Lewis County
Wilderness Recovery:On May 25 at 9:02 p.m., Forest Ranger Evans assisted Lowville Police and Fire Department, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, and New York State Police (NYSP) with the recovery of a suicidal subject, reported to be deceased. At 10:10 p.m., the subject was turned over to the Lewis County Coroner. NYSP is leading the investigation.

Town of Watson
Lewis County
Fall From Horse:On May 26 at 10:59 a.m., Forest Rangers responded to the Otter Creek Horse trails for a report of a subject who had fallen from a horse and suffered head, neck, and back injuries. The 67-year-old was taken by a Lewis County Search and Rescue Ambulance to a landing zone at the 3G Fire Department for air transport by Life Flight.

Town of Greig
Lewis County
ATV Accident:On May 26 at 3 p.m., Forest Ranger Evans responded to the scene of a subject injured in an ATV accident near the intersection of VanArnum and Brantingham roads. Ranger Evans applied a tourniquet to control the bleeding from the subject’s lower leg. New York State Police (NYSP), the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, and the 3G and Brantingham Fire Departments also responded. The patient was transported by Lewis County Search and Rescue ambulance to a nearby landing zone for air transport by LifeNet.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:On May 26, at 5:09 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from an Adirondack Mountain Club employee reporting a hiker with an injured wrist. The 48-year-old subject from Camillus was 2.2 miles from the Heart Lake Information Center. At 5:40 p.m., Forest Ranger Praczkajlo reached the subject and helped her to the trailhead.

Hamlet of Holmes
Dutchess County
Wilderness Search: On May 26 at 5:45 p.m., Forest Ranger Russo responded to a report of two lost hikers at Wonder Lake State Park. Dispatch provided coordinates for the hikers. At 6:45 p.m., Ranger Russo and Kent Police reached the subjects and walked them back to the trailhead.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Search: On May 26 at 6:20 p.m., Forest Ranger Lewis was notified about an 11-year-old from Webster separated from a hiking group descending Whiteface. Five Rangers responded and at 7:15 p.m., Ranger Praczkajlo found the subject off the hiking trail and reunited him with the hiking party.

Town of Peru
Clinton County
Stuck Truck: On May 27, Acting Captain Booth and Forest Ranger Odell responded to Ausable Point Campground for a report of a vehicle stuck on the beach. Following a brief investigation, Rangers determined the operator had attempted to launch their boat from the foot access to the beach the previous evening and got stuck. Boats may only be launched from designated boat launch sites. The operator was ticketed for unauthorized motor vehicle use on State land and launching a boat in an area other than a designated boat launch. A local tow company recovered the vehicle.

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Truck stuck on the Ausable Point beach

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC'sHike Smart NY,Adirondack Backcountry Information, andCatskill Backcountry Informationwebpages 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 easem*nts, 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.

DEC Forest Rangers - Week in Review (2024)


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