One item that caught our eye in the latest forest ranger report was the rescue of a U.S. Forest Service employee near Boreas Ponds.
The federal employee activated a personal locator beacon after his vehicle got stuck near Boreas Ponds. Here is the item in the ranger report in its entirety:
“Call for Assistance: On June 27 at 11 a.m., the International Emergency Response Center (IERC) notified Ray Brook Dispatch of a personal locator beacon (PLB) activated by a U.S. Forest Service employee working in Essex County. PLBs use satellite communication to notify the IERC that the owner of the unit is in distress. Three Forest Rangers responded to the reported coordinates near Boreas Ponds, roughly 7.5 miles from a public highway. By 1:40 p.m., the Rangers found the Forest Service employee, who had gotten his vehicle stuck on a forest road but had no radio or cell phone service. Once the vehicle was freed, the employee was able to drive without further assistance.”
Following is a set of questions we emailed to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the agency’s responses:
What was the Forest Service employee doing near Boreas Ponds? Was he on duty?
“The employee was working in an official capacity collecting data as part of the National Forest Census, Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. The employee was inventorying plots on the former Finch lands.” [Link added.]
Where exactly was he? What road was he on? Aren’t the roads near the ponds closed to vehicles?
“He was 7.5 miles in and west of Boreas Ponds on an unnamed road. Roads remain open at this time for administrative use and for use by the leasees until the classification process is complete”
What kind of vehicle was he driving? How did it get stuck?
“He was driving a Jeep SUV that became stuck as he was attempting to turn around.”
Is this a proper use of a PLB? Some years ago DEC ticketed a guy who activated a PLB who didn’t want to hike out through trail-less woods in the cold with wet clothes. Seems like he was more in danger than the Forest Service employee. How do justify ticketing one and not the other? Or will you ticket this guy too?
“The USFS employee activated the PLB as he could not self-rescue, was stuck in the mud, and out of radio and cell phone reception. The previous case you referred to was after the individual activated a PLB a second time to take a photo, and the District Attorney supported the enforcement in that case. The USFS employee will not be ticketed in this instance.”
In the incident referred to, an Ohio man was rescued twice within three weeks on Alderbed Flow in the Five Ponds Wilderness, both times after activating a personal locator beacon. Click the links below to read the story I wrote for the Explorer in 2003.