Injured hikers, fires, and a nuisance bear highlight forest ranger report

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 6/25 – 7/1/18

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 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 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.”

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On June 25 at 5:32 p.m., a call came in to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from Essex County 911 reporting a 65-year-old woman with head injuries on the Flume Trail in Wilmington. While hiking the scenic trail overlooking the Ausable River, she slipped and tumbled down a 30-foot slope, landing on the boulders along the shore. Wilmington Fire and Rescue were first on scene. A Forest Ranger was dispatched to the scene to assist with a high angle rope rescue. By 6:35 p.m., the injured hiker was lifted over the steep walls and brought to a waiting ambulance, which transferred her to a life-flight helicopter for additional care.

Town of Greenwich
Washington County
Wildland Fire: On June 26 at 12:34 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Ranger assistance for an out-of-control fire in Greenwich. A controlled burn had escaped containment efforts, and multiple fire departments reported to the scene. Forest Ranger Jaime Laczko responded by 1:15 p.m. Cossayuna Fire Department, with support of other local fire departments, established a containment line with hoses and put down the fire, which scorched roughly one acre.

Staten Island
Richmond County
Fire Prevention Outreach: On June 26, Forest Rangers John Franceschina and Joseph Pries, along with Smokey Bear, attended Environmental Conservation Night at the Staten Island Yankees game. Smokey and the Rangers greeted guests as they arrived and educated them about wildfire prevention. Smokey was given the honor of throwing the first pitch. After the first inning, Smokey came to the aid of a boy who was in a tug of war with the Yankees’ mascot “Scooter.” With Smokey’s help, the boy won. Throughout the game, Rangers and Smokey interacted with more than 200 people, handing out educational materials and talking about DEC and what Rangers do on a daily basis. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and NYC Urban Park Rangers also attended the game.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue: On June 29 at about 1:40 p.m., while on routine patrol at DEC’s Nick’s Lake campground, Forest Ranger Robert Coscomb heard radio traffic from Herkimer County 911 notifying Old Forge Fire Department of a 72-year-old woman on the Bald Mountain trail with a possible broken ankle.  Ranger Coscomb advised Ray Brook Dispatch and requested additional Ranger support.  Ranger Coscomb arrived at the scene at 2:05 p.m., and found that Old Forge fire personnel had splinted the woman’s right ankle and were waiting for a wheeled rescue litter. Ranger Coscomb assisted with packaging and carry out to trailhead. The Syracuse woman was transferred to Old Forge ambulance for transport to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica for further treatment.

Town of North Alba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On June 29 at 7:06 p.m., a call was received by Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an ill hiker at Marcy Dam. Two hikers had summited Algonquin Mountain and one of the hikers, a male in his twenties, fell ill on the summit. The hikers made their way back down to Marcy Dam, but the hiker from Rome was still suffering from an illness. With fear for his friend’s well-being, the other hiker walked out to Adirondack Loj to call for Forest Ranger assistance. Ranger Daniel Fox was dispatched to the scene and an assistant Forest Ranger stationed at Marcy Dam also responded to the campsite. By 9:17 p.m., the sick hiker was turned over to Lake Placid Ambulance Squad for further medical attention.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Bear Complaint: Forest Rangers successfully hazed a nuisance bear with rubber buckshot near the John’s Brook Outpost earlier this week. However, the bear was later reported near the Slant Rock lean-to demonstrating aggressive behavior and taking food from campers’ sites. Wildlife staff are monitoring the bear this week and will continue working with Forest Rangers and Wildlife Conservation Society staff to reduce negative human / bear encounters. DEC reminds the public that they can discourage nuisance bears by limiting food sources like garbage and birdfeeders. For more information, visit

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On June 30 at 1:38 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from the Wright Mountain Summit Steward who was approached by a subject whose hiking partner had become ill due to the warm weather and lack of hydration. The 33-year-old man from Blasdell was in the Macintyre Falls area. The Wright Summit Steward followed the hiking partner down to locate the ill subject. An Assistant Forest Ranger began responding from the trailhead. After locating the man, the two units attempted to rehydrate the subject. The ill subject began descending the trail at approximately 3:10 p.m., and was evaluated at the trailhead by Lake Placid EMS at 5:15 p.m.

Town of Palenville
Greene County
Wilderness Rescue: On June 30 at 3 p.m., Central Dispatch received a report from Forest Ranger Robert Dawson that a 13-year-old boy from Massapequa was hiking with his family at Kaaterskill Falls when he slipped on the stone stairs and suffered an ankle injury. His family requested assistance from an Assistant Forest Ranger on site. The Assistant Forest Ranger wrapped the boy’s ankle while Ranger Dawson responded. The boy was carried by Ranger Dawson to the State Route 23A trailhead. The boy’s mother refused further medical care and the family vacated the trailhead.

Town of Bleecker
Fulton County
Wildland Search: On June 30 at 8:09 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a direct call from Ranger Andrew Lewis regarding a missing 29-year-old male missing from Pinnacle Road in Bleecker. The subject was last seen riding his mountain bike from his family camp on Pinnacle Road. Under Capt. John Streiff’s authority, five additional resources responded and began Type 1 searches in the immediate area. The search continued over the next few days, with Monday’s effort growing to 75 searchers, including 13 Forest Rangers, 13 Federation and Lower Adirondack Search and Rescue members, and 37 volunteer firefighters and members of the Fulton County Sherriff’s Department. At 5:02 p.m., the man was located by searchers on the East Side of Chase Lake, roughly three miles from his last known location. Rangers provided the subject with food and coverage from the sun. The subject was then brought back to the command post by boat and Ranger ATV. The subject was assessed by Fulton County EMS and treated for minor lacerations and sun exposure. He was then happily reunited with his family.

Town of Denning
Ulster County
Land-Use Management: On Wednesday, June 27, DEC announced a new no-cost, day use permitting system requiring visitors to obtain a permit to access the Blue Hole, located in the Sundown Wild Forest of the Catskill Park. The new permitting system is designed to strike a balance between ensuring State lands are open and accessible while reducing environmental damage and enhancing public safety. Under the new no-cost permit system, visitors are required to obtain a permit on weekends and holidays from May 15 through October 15 every year. DEC will issue up to 40 permits per day and each permit allows entry for up to six individuals, including children, allowing for a maximum of 240 people to access the Blue Hole each day. Permits must be acquired at least 24 hours and no more than one week, in advance. Only advance registrations will be accepted at the site, and walk-in permits are not available. Visitors will be required to list the names of all members of their party when making reservations, but can update names up to one day in advance. Visitors must have a permit with them at all times. Rangers are at the Blue Hole main trailhead checking permits and helping to educate Blue Hole visitors. Visitors can find out more information on these and other destinations in the Catskills by contacting or visiting the Catskill Interpretive Center at 5096 Route 28 in Mt. Tremper, NY, 12457 – phone: (845) 688 – 3369, or visit Catskill Interpretive Center<> website.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety ( and Adirondack Backcountry Information ( webpage for more information.

About Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a multimedia reporter for the Adirondack Explorer. He can be reached at Sign up for Mike’s newsletter

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