ALBANY, NY — 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 Greig
Wilderness Rescue: On July 16 at 10:37 a.m., Forest Ranger Evans overheard radio traffic regarding a 61-year-old subject from Ashville injured while horse riding on a section of the Hiawatha Trail in the Otter Creek Horse Trail system. Ranger Evans arrived on scene and found the injured man lying on the ground unable to get up, complaining of severe rib pain. The man also stated he had been knocked out when ejected from his horse. Ranger Evans contacted Lewis County 911 and advised that the ambulance could back up from the main road close to where the injured man was located. The subject was loaded into the ambulance and taken to a local hospital for medical treatment. All units were clear of the scene by 11:06 a.m.
Town of Indian Lake
Whitewater Rafting Training: On July 12 and 15, American Canoe Association (ACA) whitewater raft instructors hosted a two-day training coinciding with higher water levels on the Hudson River Gorge. Forest Rangers from Region 5 attended the training and learned about proper inflation, care/maintenance, trailering, proper oar strokes, uprighting a flipped raft, and whitewater skills. The training utilized a swiftwater raft on class 3 and 4 rapids.
Whitewater rafting training in Indian Lake (two photos attached)
Neversink Unique Area
Search and Rescue Training: On July 15, Forest Rangers Franke, Stratton, Sweeney, and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Mitchell held a training with Catskills Hatzalah Emergency Medical Services and New York State Police (NYSP). Twenty members of Catskills Hatzalah Search and Rescue and four NYSP Troopers participated in the training at the Neversink Unique Area. Scenarios consisted of locating two injured subjects along the Neversink River, two miles from the trailhead, and treating them for injuries. In one scenario, a subject had a fractured lower leg, requiring rescuers to treat the injury and conduct an extensive carry out. The successful training demonstrated effective interagency collaboration.
Search and rescue training at Neversink Unique Area (three photos attached)
Town of Inlet
Wilderness Rescue: On July 15 at 1 p.m., DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Gates contacted DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch advising that he had overheard radio traffic regarding a 74-year-old subject from Hamburg with an ankle injury near the top of Black Bear Mountain. Four Forest Rangers and one AFR responded to assist, along with resources from Herkimer County. At 4:07 p.m., Forest Ranger Hanno advised that Rangers carried the injured hiker to the trailhead where they were met by EMS. The subject was transferred to a waiting ambulance for transport to a local hospital.
Town of Arietta
Wilderness Search: On July 16 at 8:30 a.m., Forest Ranger Kerr located the vehicle of a group reported overdue from a camping trip on the French Louis Loop in the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area. Two additional Rangers responded to the trailhead to assist with a search. At 12:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Scott advised he had located the group from Staten Island on the trail in good condition. The hikers took a wrong turn the previous evening, causing them to spend an additional night in the woods. Ranger Scott escorted the group out of the woods and everyone was back to their vehicles by 3:15 p.m.
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Rescue: On July 17 at 12 p.m., North-South Lake Campground staff received a call reporting an 83-year-old man had fallen while hiking the escarpment trail near Layman’s Monument. Forest Ranger Gullen, along with AFRs France and Lasselle, responded on foot. The hiker from Maryland had fallen approximately six feet down a rock scramble and received multiple abrasions to his torso and arms. AFR France treated the wounds while Ranger Gullen medically evaluated the hiker. No other injuries were present, and the subject was able to walk out under his own power. The group walked out approximately half a mile and the hiker was given a courtesy ride to his vehicle where he declined further medical treatment. All were clear of the scene at 2:15 p.m.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Search: On July 18 at 3:15 a.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a report that two 20-year-olds from Albany had not returned from a day trip to the Eastern High Peaks. The hikers’ last known point was the summit of Mount Redfield at 8 p.m. the previous evening. At 5 a.m., Forest Ranger Mecus located the hikers’ vehicle at the Adirondak Loj and began making search assignments. AFR Jackson was assigned to check Uphill and Feldspar lean-tos and then proceed to the summit of Redfield. At 7:10 a.m., AFR Jackson located the hikers at the Uphill lean-to. The pair became wet on their hike and decided to wait out the rain inside dry shelter for the night. AFR Jackson escorted the hikers back to the Lake Colden outpost where they were provided food, water, and dry insulating layers. At 11:30 a.m., the hikers were given a courtesy ride back to their vehicle and all resources were clear of the scene.