Agency reports recent statewide forest ranger activities

The state Department of Environmental Conservation 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 the state.

Madison County was the location for several activities recently.

On April 20 and 23, 2022, Rangers Lunt and Virkler instructed 22 people in the Basic Wildland Search Skills Course at the Madison County Emergency Management Training Center in Lenox. Wildland searches require skilled resources from multiple agencies and this course gives students a basic understanding of how to participate in a wildland search for a lost or missing person.

On April 22, 2022, Rangers Oldroyd and Virkler were patrolling near Charles Baker State Forest in Brookfield when they encountered a line of 13 vehicles, including three pickup trucks loaded with pallets, entering the state forest. The rangers interviewed the individuals in the vehicles, who admitted they were going to have a party in the state forest.

The group included approximately 30 people ranging in age from 15 to 19 years old. An 18-year-old from Norwich had three cases of beer. Rangers issued a ticket for underage possession of alcohol in a state forest. After ensuring none of the drivers were impaired and notifying the parents of the minors involved, rangers cleared the scene.

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.”

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.

Those needing a forest ranger, whether it’s for search-and-rescue help, to report a wildfire or to report illegal activity on state lands and easements, call 833-NYS-RANGERS. Those needing emergency assistance should 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 at dec.ny.gov/about/667.html.

By martha

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