DEC forest rangers search and rescue missions in NNY

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 2021, DEC Forest 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. Some of these incidents featured each week result in injuries, property damage, or even death, and starting this year, the “DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights” is transitioning to a new title, “Forest Rangers – Week In Review.”

“Over the last decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC saw an increase in people visiting State lands to experience New York’s abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC’s Forest Rangers continue to be on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely, as well as to protect our state’s irreplaceable natural resources. 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 Montague
Lewis County
Wildland Recovery:
 On April 10 at 12:42 a.m. Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with the search for a missing 72-year-old. Frederick Moat, from Kirkwood, went missing during the SNIRT ATV/UTV run in the Tug Hill region of Lewis County. Ranger Lieutenants Hoag and Nowalk and Rangers Evans, Lee, Snyder, and Thomes responded along with DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, Lewis County Emergency Management Services, Martinsburg and Turin fire departments, and multiple volunteers. The search was challenging because of the large, six-town search area. Ranger Evans set up a command post in Martinsburg with crews checking in remotely, because they were searching areas up to an hour away. At 1 p.m., crews found the man’s ATV stuck near a seasonal access road in the town of Montague. All crews were moved to that area to begin a ground search. At 2:15 p.m., Moat was found deceased. Rescue crews carried him approximately one-half mile out in swampy conditions to the road. Resources were clear at 4:35 p.m. Lewis County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.


Town of Redfield
Oswego County
ATV Enforcement:
 On April 9, Forest Rangers patrolled Littlejohn Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to curb illegal ATV activity connected to an event in Lewis County that previously resulted in damage when ATVs illegally travelled through the WMA. Rangers encountered approximately 30 ATVs and issued 21 tickets for illegal ATV operation on WMA roadways. One ticket was issued for an unregistered ATV. Several ATV operators were turned away before they could enter the WMA.