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 the backcountry.
In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 tickets or arrests.
“Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers and throughout our vast forested areas statewide.”
Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue: On Dec. 17 at 8:48 p.m., St. Lawrence County 911 contacted DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a distress signal from an InReach emergency beacon in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area at Cat Mountain Pond. Due to the remote location and winter conditions, 10 Forest Rangers utilizing two airboats responded to expedite personnel transport. Forest Ranger Nathan Shea hiked in from the Dead Creek trailhead, while the remaining Forest Rangers proceeded to the location with airboats using the SUNY ESF Ranger School beachfront area. The 38-year-old male hiker from West Point was found by Ranger Shea at 1:57 a.m., using the coordinates given by 911. Ranger Shea warmed the hiker, gave him fluids and food, and they began walking out to meet the rest of the search party. At 3:07 a.m., Forest Rangers met the hiker and Ranger Shea between the Cat Mountain junction and Cat Mountain Pond. They then hiked to Janacks Landing and were evacuated by airboat back to the Ranger School. The hiker declined medical care and was transported by family members to a hotel in Tupper Lake. All units were back in service at 4:45 a.m. on Dec. 18. The hiker stated he had left Cranberry Lake at 5:00 a.m., and attempted to hike the Cranberry Lake 50 trail, but was not fully prepared for the hike and did not have winter-weight boots or enough food.