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 Pembroke
Wilderness Rescue: On May 21 at 4:15 p.m., a 58-year-old Pembroke man was reported missing to Genesee County 911 Dispatch by his wife. Local fire department personnel, EMS, and law enforcement officials began a search utilizing two helicopters and a drone and worked the immediate area until dark. The following day, Forest Rangers Daniel Cordell and Capt. Daniel Richter responded to assist with search efforts. At approximately 5:30 p.m., the missing man was located a mile away from his last known point. The subject was taken to a medical facility for further treatment.
City of Albany
Prescribed Fire: On May 22, DEC Forest Rangers, Albany Pine Bush staff, and several volunteer fire departments conducted a 52-acre prescribed burn in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The burn was conducted in four adjacent units comprised of brush and mixed regeneration. This treatment will increase openings for warm season grasses, forbs, and wild blue lupine, and reduce the invasion of woody shrub. This management technique will improve habitat for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.
Town of Brighton
Fire Tower Supply Mission: On May 22, a New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation unit helped DEC Forest Rangers transport steel support structures to stabilize the fire tower on St. Regis Mountain. White pine tree tops were attached to the loads to prevent uncontrollable spinning and stabilize the load.
Town of Lake Luzerne
Wilderness Rescue: On May 22 at 8:40 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a cell phone call from a lost 16-year-old female hiker to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch. The hiker left her home around 6 p.m. to go for a hike, and as darkness set in, realized she was in unfamiliar territory along a local snowmobile trail and called for assistance. The hiker remained on the line with dispatch until Forest Ranger Charles Kabrehl arrived at her location using coordinates he had received. Lake Luzerne Fire Department personnel met the group and the hiker was transported back to her family in good health by 10:20 p.m.
Town of Harrietstown
Multi-Agency Training: Forest Rangers from DEC Regions 5 and 6 conducted quarterly Ground School Training with the NYSP Aviation unit at Lake Clear Airport on May 23. This ongoing training includes instructors, crew chiefs, and Rangers practicing patient packaging, hoist techniques, and safe operation during helicopter missions. The DEC and NYSP Aviation partnership over the years has helped the state respond to a host of emergencies and missions in and out of the woods.
City of Kingston
Wilderness Rescue: On May 24 at 8 p.m., Forest Rangers Russell Martin and Kevin Slade responded to an Ulster County 911 Emergency Center Radio call for two lost hikers in the Bluestone Wild Forest at the Onteora Lake access area. After coordinating efforts, the Rangers determined the hikers from Kingston were on the yellow trail. Forest Ranger Martin traveled north on the trail and located the lost party in good condition. The hikers were escorted back to their vehicle and the incident concluded by 9 p.m.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On May 24 at 4:13 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from the boyfriend of a 25-year-old woman from Binghamton. The subject was hiking Algonquin Peak in the High Peaks Wilderness with three other women in their mid-20s. After climbing Algonquin, thinking they were on Wright Peak, the group realized they were descending off the wrong side of the mountain. Dispatch conferred with Forest Ranger Dan Fox and advised him the group was returning to the summit to find the correct trail down. There was still four hours of daylight and the hikers had plenty of time to correct their navigational error. Communication was lost through 911 before coordinates could be gathered. The hikers reconnected with Ray Brook Dispatch near the top of Algonquin Peak at 5:48 p.m., and again at 7:02 p.m., at the Wright Peak junction. Their last known point was determined to be MacIntyre Falls at around 8 p.m. Once darkness set in, Ranger Fox started in on foot to intercept the group as they were coming out. At 9:23 p.m., Ranger Fox located the group at the intersection with Marcy Dam and all the hikers were in good condition. The group continued down the trail and the incident safely concluded at 10:16 p.m.
Town of St. Armand
Wilderness Rescue: On May 25 at 11:03 a.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from two hikers on Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake reporting a 78-year-old female with a possible broken ankle. Coordinates obtained from 911 placed the subjects just below the summit. Forest Rangers Peter Evans, Kevin Burns, and Scott van Laer responded with Assistant Forest Ranger Gregory Bowler, SARNAC, and Saranac Lake Ambulance and Rescue. At 12:49 p.m., the injured hiker was transferred to a litter and was carried out to a waiting ambulance. At 1:15 p.m., the hiker arrived at the ambulance and was transported to AMC Saranac Lake.
Town of Newcomb
Wilderness Rescue: On May 25 at 11:40 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 57-year-old male from Rochester near the summit of Goodnow Mountain. The hiker had twisted his leg on a root while ascending. Seven Forest Rangers and one assistant Forest Ranger were dispatched to the scene and reached the subject by 1:15 p.m. It was determined that the subject could walk out with the assistance of crutches. The hiker arrived at the trailhead at 7:30 p.m., where he declined any medical assistance and sought treatment in Saranac Lake.
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Rescue: On May 25 at 6:52 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a hiker separated from his hiking partner after attempting to climb Algonquin from Lake Colden. The reporting party stated that he had summited Algonquin and returned to the Lake Colden area to look for his hiking partner with negative results. The subject left Lake Colden and went to the Adirondak Loj to call for assistance. The two had planned to stay in the woods after summiting Algonquin. The decision was made to delay search efforts until the morning of May 26, due to the experience and fitness level of the hikers, who both had proper equipment for the conditions. One Forest Ranger responded to the Loj at 6:30 a.m. the next morning to begin search efforts. Incoming hikers in the area were given descriptions of the missing hiker. At 9:29 a.m., Marcy Dam caretaker Kirstie Fanning located the missing hiker in good health as he was coming out to the Loj. The party was reunited at 10:18 a.m., and all units were back in service.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On May 25 at 6:56 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from a 28-year-old male from Champlain who was disoriented. The subject did not know what trail he was on as he just pulled over on Route 73 in Keene and began walking into the woods. Coordinates provided by Essex County 911 placed him on a popular rock-climbing route called “The Chimney” in the Pitchoff Mountain Area. Forest Ranger James Giglinto responded and located the subject’s vehicle. By 7:40 p.m., the Ranger established voice contact with the subject and the two walked back to their vehicles by 8 p.m.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On May 25 at 6:56 p.m., a call came into DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an injured 29-year-old male hiker from Collegeville, PA, at a lean-to near Lower Ausable Lake. At first it was believed to be the lean-to along the trail to Elk Pass, but later was pinpointed to be one of the private lean-tos at the south end of the lake. Upon reaching the hiker, it was revealed that he injured his lower leg near the summit of Blake. His friends splinted his leg and got him down the “Elevator Shaft” to the trail near the Warden Cabin at the south end of Lower Ausable Lake. Using a motorboat owned by AMR, Forest Rangers Scott van Laer and Robert Praczkajlo accessed the south end of the lake through choppy waters, thunderstorms, and heavy rains to reach the subject. The Rangers transported the group by boat to Lake Road and then out to a companion’s car. By 9 p.m., all three were back at the trailhead where they chose to seek medical attention on their own.
Town of Bolton
Wilderness Rescue: On May 25 at 9:40 p.m., Warren County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from two hikers on the Tongue Mountain trails. On their way back down along Northwest Bay, the pair ran out of daylight and were not equipped with headlamps to hike out in the dark. Once in contact with Dispatch, the 32-year-old male from Rotterdam and 29-year-old female from Glenville were asked to remain in place, and Forest Rangers responded with a boat to bring them out and back to their vehicles. Forest Rangers Charles Kabrehl and Arthur Perryman responded and reached the hikers at 11:27 p.m. and gave them a courtesy ride back to their vehicles. The incident concluded at 12:10 a.m.
Town of Shandaken
Wilderness Rescue: On May 26 at 5:17 p.m., a group of 14 Woodland Valley Campground guests attempted a day hike of approximately 11 miles from Panther Mountain back to the campground. When the group failed to return, the father of one of the hikers alerted staff, who notified DEC Dispatch. A group of four hikers exited the woods shortly after Forest Rangers Russell Martin and Robert Stratton arrived on scene. Ranger Martin proceeded to head up on the Giant Ledge trail and Ranger Stratton started in from the Rt. 47 side to look for the remaining hikers. Ranger Martin quickly encountered a second group of four and then shortly after, a lone hiker. The final five were located by Ranger Martin and returned to the campground by 7:30 p.m.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On May 27th at 9:50 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from Assistant Forest Ranger Jonathan Leff advising of a hiker with an ankle injury near Lake Colden. The 31-year-old male from Howard Beach was able to walk but needed assistance. Assistant Forest Ranger Leff splinted the ankle to ease mobility. Forest Ranger James Giglinto advised Leff to continue walking out with the subject. A UTV was staged at Marcy Dam and Ranger Giglinto gave the subject a ride back to the trailhead. The hiker advised he would seek medical attention on his own and the incident concluded at 5:28 p.m.
Town of Mamakating
Wilderness Rescue: On May 27 at 6:58 p.m., Central Office Dispatch received a call from Sullivan County 911 regarding two lost hikers in the Roosa Gap State Forest. At approximately 8:50 p.m., the 43-year-old female from Pine Bush and the 24-year-old male from Ellenville were located in good health. The hikers walked out of the woods and were transported back to their vehicle by Ranger Patrick Lee by 10:30 p.m.
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.