DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights
Forest Ranger Actions for 8/6 – 8/12/18
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 Johnsburg
State Land Enforcement: Forest Ranger Arthur Perryman recently received information indicating an illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trail was being constructed on privately owned lands leading to Forest Preserve lands. Ranger Perryman began investigating and found the trail on Aug. 4. The next day, Perryman encountered two ATVs traveling down the illegal trail just below the summit of Crane Mountain. Perryman stopped the individuals – a 50-year-old male from Johnstown and a 51-year-old male from Warrensburg – and found the pair to be in possession of numerous earth moving tools, hand saws, and chainsaws. Both subjects were charged with illegal operation of an ATV on Forest Preserve. The investigation is ongoing.
Town of Brighton
Wildland Rescue: At 4:32 p.m. on Aug. 6, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio call for assistance reporting an 18-year-old male hiker from Lake Orion, Michigan, on the summit of Algonquin Peak was suffering from the effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Forest Rangers Robbi Mecus and James Giglinto responded. When the Rangers reached the man, whose condition had not improved, Ranger Giglinto made the decision to use New York State Police Aviation to extract the subject from the rocky summit in the High Peaks Wilderness. By 6:30 p.m., the subject was at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake and all personnel were clear of the scene.
Town of Keene
Wildland Rescue: At 12:55 p.m. on Aug. 6, a call came in to Ray Brook Dispatch from hikers on Basin Mountain reporting a 60-year-old female hiker from Binghamton was suffering from low blood sugar. Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus was put in direct contact with the subjects. Johns Brook Outpost caretaker Katie Tyler headed up the trail to meet the subjects. By 8 p.m., the subjects reached Slant Rock exhausted. Due to the late hour and long distance to Johns Brook Outpost, the hikers, caretaker Tyler, and Forest Rangers Jacob Deslauriers and Jamison Martin spent the evening at the Slat Rock lean-to with plans to exit the High Peaks Wilderness in the morning. At around 6:20 a.m. on Aug. 7, the female hiker’s condition deteriorated. State Police Aviation was requested to hoist the hiker from the Johns Brook Outposts area. During a window of clear weather with incoming storms, aviation responded with a Forest Ranger hoist operator and extracted the hikers and landed in Marcy Field, where they were turned over to Keene Valley EMS personnel around 9:10 a.m.
Town of Brookhaven
Wildland Search and Recovery: At approximately 2 p.m. on Aug. 7, Stony Brook University Police contacted Forest Rangers for assistance in searching for a 74-year-old male from the area described as suffering from the early stages of dementia. The man had gone out for a jog Monday morning and had not returned. Forest Rangers Bryan Gallagher and Joseph Pries responded and assisted in organizing a ground search operation. Crews of fire and police personnel began searching through the wooded areas where the man was last seen. Around 2 p.m. on Aug. 8, a crew led by Rangers located the deceased body of the jogger in a 100-acre wooded area. Suffolk County Police is handling the investigation.
Town of Waterford
Wildland Search and Recovery: At 7:49 p.m. on Aug. 8, a call came into DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from Saratoga County requesting Forest Ranger assistance with a search for a missing 14-year-old boy with autism from the Waterford area. The boy was last seen on 1st Street in Waterford near the boat launch. Three Forest Rangers responded to the scene to assist local police and fire department personnel with a continued search. Local authorities had searched the banks of the river on foot and with a helicopter with negative results and decided to call for Forest Ranger assistance. Three Forest Rangers searched through the night, with six additional Rangers, a supervisor, and an airboat responding for Thursday’s operations. Around 5:23 p.m., divers from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department located the boy’s body in the river. The investigation is being handled by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department.
Town of Johnsburg
Wildland Rescue: At 2:44 p.m. on Aug. 11, a call came in to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from the Garnet Hill Lodge reporting a 46-year-old female from Plainfield, Vt., with a knee injury near the summit of Balm of Gilead Mountain in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. The hiker had made a bad step while descending a rocky section of the trail and sustained the non-weight bearing injury. Five Forest Rangers and an Assistant Forest Ranger responded to the Garnet Hill Lodge to assist. Upon reaching the hiker, a medical evaluation determined that with stabilization and assistance the woman could make her way down the mountain to a staged ATV. By 7:19 p.m., the hiking party and Forest Rangers were back at the Garnet Hill Lodge.
Town of Keene
Wildland Rescue: At 12:10 p.m. on Aug. 11, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 advising that a 38-year-old male subject from Providence, R.I., had fallen from Pitch Off Mountain while rock climbing. Three Forest Rangers were dispatched to the access of Pitch Off through Lower Cascade Lake. Rangers arrived on scene at 12:28 p.m. with Back Country Rescue and local fire and rescue personnel. By 12:45 p.m., Forest Rangers and EMS personnel had reached the fallen climber and assessed his injuries. The subject was secured to a back board and lowered using rope rescue techniques. He was delivered to an awaiting ambulance at 1:40 p.m. and transported to Elizabethtown Community Hospital. He was later airlifted to Burlington, V.T., for additional care. The incident concluded at 2:30 p.m.
Town of Johnsburg
Wildland Search: At 7:13 p.m. on Aug. 12, a call came into DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a female hiker on the Bog Meadow Trail in Bakers Mills. The hiker had underestimated the time it would take to hike the remote trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and became stranded after dark with no headlamp. Even with a GPS tracker and her phone for a light source, she did not trust her ability to get out and requested Forest Ranger assistance to get back to the trailhead. Forest Rangers Arthur Perryman and Nancy Ganswindt responded to the trail to locate the hiker and walk her out of the woods. By 5:11 a.m., all parties were back at the trailhead in good health and clear of the scene.
Wildand Fire Activity: While many areas of New York State have received rain over the last couple weeks, areas along Western New York and the north portions of New York State remain unusually dry. Forest Rangers aggressively responded to six wildland fires this past week and contained all of them to under a half acre in size. Unextinguished and abandoned campfires resulted in four of the fire – one on Long Island on Blue Mountain Lake; one on private property in St. Lawrence County; a third on an island on Lake Colby in Essex County; and a fourth one on an island on Flood Pond in the St. Regis area of Franklin County. An off-road utility vehicle rolled over on the John White Wildlife Management Area in Genesee County that resulted in a small grass fire. Lightning that moved through the Adirondacks last week ignited a small fire on conservation easement land in Essex County, which was eventually extinguished.
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28708.html) and Adirondack Backcountry Information (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html) webpage for more information.