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 Elizabethtown
Campground Enforcement: On Aug. 9 at 4:15 a.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call from the caretaker at Lincoln Pond Campground requesting Forest Ranger assistance to help address multiple, ongoing violations. Forest Ranger Lt. Dubay was notified, and Forest Rangers Quinn and Booth responded. Upon their investigation, Rangers issued 16 tickets for underage drinking.
Town of Inlet
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 9 at 3:09 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the Inlet Police Department reporting a lost hiker in the area of Third Lake Creek in the Fulton Chain Wild Forest. Forest Rangers Miller and Temple responded to coordinates provided by police. At 4:12 p.m., Forest Ranger Miller found the 63-year-old man from Inlet and drove him out of the woods via UTV. At 4:48 p.m., the subject and responders were back at the parking area and clear of the scene.
Town of North Hudson
On Aug. 9 at 7 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a 41-year-old hiker from East Aurora was feeling ill and unable to walk at the Lillian Brook lean-to in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Area. Forest Rangers Sabo and Milano responded with a six-wheel ATV as far as the trail would allow and then proceeded on foot. The Rangers arrived on scene at 9:20 p.m., and found the hiker deceased. Six additional Rangers responded to assist with the recovery. The responders found the section of trail was too hazardous for a carry out mission and requested NYSP Aviation assistance. On Aug.10 at 10:45 a.m., the deceased was transported via helicopter from the lean-to to a landing zone where he was transferred to the Essex County Coroner. The incident remains under investigation by NYSP and DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI).
Town of Newcomb
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 10 at 12:20 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 67-year-old woman from Gansevoort who had fallen while hiking Allen Mountain. The subject sustained injuries near the Allen Brook Falls. Forest Ranger Quinn responded, splinted the hiker’s arm, and at 4:20 p.m., started hiking her out. Forest Rangers Temple and Miller responded with an ATV and at 7:49 p.m., Ranger Quinn, the injured hiker, and her partner were out of the woods and given a courtesy ride back to their vehicles. The hiker stated she would seek further medical assistance on her own.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 10 at 2:58 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from the Johns Brook Lodge in the High Peaks Wilderness Area reporting a 60-year-old hiker from Rochester with a non-weight bearing knee injury near Slide Brook. Forest Rangers Lewis and Booth, along with two volunteer climbing guides, and a medic from Keene Fire Department, were flown into Johns Brook Outpost by NYSP Aviation. Rescuers located the injured hiker on the Slide Mountain Trail. After stabilizing the injury, the Rangers carried the subject back to the outpost where NYSP Aviation returned to extract her from the woods. At 7:36 p.m., Ranger Booth and the volunteer rescuers flew out of the woods and the injured hiker was taken to a local hospital. Ranger Lewis escorted the subject’s hiking partner back to the Garden parking lot and at 8:45 p.m., they were out of the woods and clear of the incident.
Hiker rescued from Johns Brook Outpost (photo attached)
Town of Greece
Bucket Training: On Aug. 11, Forest Rangers from Region 8 and 9, including five helicopter crew chiefs, along with local and volunteer fire departments, conducted a joint helicopter bucket training with NYSP Aviation in the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area. During the training, Ranger crew chiefs worked on the Huey II helicopter managing the dips and drops utilizing a 180 gallon “training” bucket while Rangers on the ground honed skills in calling in the bucket drops, an important skill in wildland firefighting. Thirteen water drops were completed.
Village of Fort Ann
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 11 at 2:45 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 14-year-old girl from Queensbury with an ankle injury near the summit of Buck Mountain. Forest Rangers St. Claire, Perryman, and Kabrehl responded and the subject hiked down with their assistance. At 7:05 p.m., Rangers Kabrehl and Perryman met the hiker with an ATV. She was then driven back to the trailhead and advised she would seek further medical assistance on her own.
Town of Brighton
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 11 at 5:39 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 41-year-old woman was had lost with her 10- and 12-year-old children on Saint Regis Mountain in the canoe area. Forest Rangers Curcio and Bronson responded to the coordinates provided by 911. At 7:24 p.m., Ranger Curcio found the missing hikers from Fairport and began escorting them out. Ranger Bronson took his truck to a nearby access road and met the group at 7:54. He gave the hikers a ride back to their vehicle at the trailhead.
Town of Fabius
Wilderness Search: On Aug. 12 at 11 p.m., Forest Rangers Lunt and Chappell responded to Morgan Hill State Forest to assist NYSP and the Fabius Fire Department with the search for a missing man. The subject was reported missing by a friend after they became separated. The search continued into the early morning hours without success. A larger search began at daylight with five additional Forest Rangers, NYSP, and volunteers from multiple fire departments and search and rescue teams. At 6 p.m., the 25-year-old man from Syracuse walked out of the woods nearly 2.5 miles from where he was last seen. The subject was in good condition and was transported to a family member by NYSP.
Town of Johnsburg
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 13 at 12:40 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 75-year-old man from East Northport who had sustained an ankle injury while hiking Crane Mountain. At 1:54 p.m., Forest Rangers Kabrehl, Savarie, and Perryman, along with backcountry stewards Vanderstouw and Cantanzaro, were at the hiker’s location and splinted the man’s leg. The responders brought the subject to a landing zone near Crane Pond to be extricated by NYSP Aviation with the assistance of Ranger Praczkajlo. At 3:40 p.m., the hiker was transferred to EMS (Empire Ambulance) and transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment.
Town of Arietta
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug.13 at 1:15 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 56-year-old hiker from Poughkeepsie with a lower leg injury near the base of the Pillsbury Mountain Fire Tower. Forest Ranger Nally and members of the Speculator Fire Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps made their way on foot to the woman’s location. Due to the extreme heat and difficult terrain, NYSP Aviation was requested to assist with a hoist evacuation. The woman was extracted off the summit at approximately 5 p.m., and transported by family for further medical attention.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by Johns Brook Lodge reporting a 60-year-old woman from Pennsylvania in medical distress between Bushnell Falls and Slant Rock in the Johns Brook Valley. Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Raudonis quickly responded and assessed the subject. After resting and getting rehydrated, the hiker, her daughter, and AFR Raudonis proceeded back down the trail and were met by Forest Ranger Lewis who escorted the group back to the trailhead. From the trailhead, the Ranger gave the hikers a courtesy ride to their vehicle at the Adirondak Loj. The hiker stated she would seek additional medical treatment on her own. At 10:23 p.m., everyone was clear of the scene.
Town of Hunter
Wilderness Search: On Aug.14 at 2 p.m., two Virginia hikers and their dog called Greene County 911 to report they were out of water and lost near the Palenville Overlook. Forest Ranger Dawson was notified by 911 and responded from Kaaterskill Falls. Through text messages of pictures the hikers sent of trail juncture signs, Ranger Dawson determined the hikers’ location on the Sleepy Hollow trail. He hiked in from North-South Lake campground where he located the hikers and gave them some water. The Ranger hiked the pair back to the campground and gave one of the hikers a courtesy ride back to the Harding Road trailhead to retrieve their vehicle. The incident concluded by 7 p.m.
Town of Newcomb
Wilderness Rescue: On Aug. 15 at 5:53 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of mountain bikers in the Santanoni Preserve reporting they had a conversation with another group who got separated from their 16-year-old son while heading from Moose Pond in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The boy was last seen at 3:30 p.m., near the intersection of Moose Pond and Newcomb Lake. Forest Rangers Sabo and Black started searching the area and at 7:17 p.m., and Ranger Black located the missing boy. The subject was given a ride back to the trailhead and at 8:50 p.m., all rescuers and campers/bikers were clear of the scene.
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NY, Adirondack Backcountry Information and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages 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 easements, 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: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/667.html