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 across New York State.
In 2021, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate hundreds of acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests.
“Over the last decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC saw an increase in people visiting State lands to experience New York’s abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC’s Forest Rangers continue to be on the front lines to help visitors get outside responsibly and get home safely, as well as to protect our state’s irreplaceable natural resources. Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to white water rivers, and throughout our vast forests statewide.”
City of Troy
Public Outreach: On June 15, Lieutenant David Pachan participated in Adirondack Outdoors Night at Joe Bruno Stadium. Lt. Pachan was joined by Smokey Bear to educate people at the ValleyCats game about preventing wildfires and general safety in the outdoors. Video of Lt. Pachan and Smokey Bear throwing out the first pitch is available on the DEC website.
ADK outdoors night
Lt. Pachan throws out the first pitch
Town of Fishkill
Lost Camper Drill: On June 16, Forest Rangers Pries, Sweeney, and Lt. Ashida led a ‘Lost Camper’ training for lead counselors at Sharpe Reservation. The Fresh Air Fund runs three camps for 3,000 low-income children from New York City at the Sharpe Reservation, which covers an area of more than 2,000 acres. Forest Rangers are included in the camp’s safety plan for potential lost campers.
Lost camper drill
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Search: On June 16 at 4:55 p.m., Forest Rangers Curcio, Lewis, and Praczkajlo responded to a report of a hiker with an ankle injury on Algonquin Peak. Rangers reached the 30-year-old subject from Virginia at 6:55 p.m., and splinted her injury. Rangers then helped the subject down the mountain. The hiker reached her vehicle at 8:45 p.m.
Town of North Elba
Wilderness Search: On June 16 at 7:50 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance in the response to a 22-year-old from Pennsylvania who had suffered a head injury in Avalanche Pass. By 9 p.m., Ranger Curcio made contact with the individual and her hiking group not far from Marcy Dam. Ranger Curcio assisted the group back to the trailhead and suggested the subject seek further medical attention. Resources were clear at 10:05 p.m.
Town of Wells
Wilderness Search: On June 18 at 8:30 p.m., Forest Rangers Kerr, Miller, and Nally responded to a search for a 19-year-old intoxicated subject who had left the Whitehouse campsite at 11 a.m. to go fishing and did not return. Shortly before 10 p.m., Rangers located the subject near the campsite. After further investigation, Rangers issued tickets to six individuals at the campsite for possession of alcohol by a minor on State land. All subjects were turned over to their parents.
Town of Black Brook
Wildland Fire: On June 19 at 5:20 p.m., Clinton County requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildfire off of Guideboard Road in the town of Black Brook. Rangers Black and Russell responded to the seven-acre fire along with Saranac and Au Sable Forks fire departments. Additional Rangers responded the following morning, and by 12:15 p.m., the fire was contained.
Fire in Black Brook
Town of Fine
St. Lawrence County
Forest Ranger Academy: This month, the Division of Forest Protection continued the 23rd Basic School for Forest Rangers hosted at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Ranger School campus in Wanakena. Ranger recruits recently received 35 hours of Wilderness First Responder Training. Upon graduation, recruits will be assigned to patrol public lands across the state.
Ranger recruits training to be wilderness first responders
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NY, Adirondack Backcountry Information, and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.
If a person needs a Forest Ranger, whether it’s for a search and rescue, to report a wildfire, or to report illegal activity on state lands and easements, they should call 833-NYS-RANGERS. If a person needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a Forest Ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for every Ranger listed by region.