NEW PALTZ – 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 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.
“DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York’s wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The State’s brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service.”
In the town of Jewett On August 24, Forest Rangers received a call from DEC’s North-South Lake Campground at 3:50 pm regarding a hiker suffering from possible heat exhaustion on the Escarpment Trail in the Windham-Blackhead Wilderness Area. Forest Rangers Dawson and Fox responded to assist, hiking 2.8 miles to the subject’s location. After Rangers provided the 26-year-old man from Forest Hills with food and water, he was able to slowly hike back out to the Schutt Road parking area to his vehicle. The incident concluded at 9 pm.
DEC Forest Rangers continue assisting with the Cragswood Road Fire on the Mohonk Preserve property. The fire was first reported to the New Paltz Fire Chief at approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 26. It is approximately five acres in size and was caused by a lightning strike. Ulster County Emergency Services, Mohonk Preserve Rangers, DEC Forest Rangers, and State Police Aviation assisted New Paltz Fire Department with initial suppression efforts. On Thursday, Aug. 27, and Friday, Aug. 28, the incident response increased to about 40 personnel from Ulster Hose, Gardiner, Highland, Accord, Esopus, Walker Valley, Rifton, Bloomington, and Marlborough fire departments, as well as the New Paltz Rescue Squad. Water and hand tools helped control the flames. DEC Forest Rangers and Mohonk Preserve Rangers will patrol the fire until it is completely out.
On August 30 in the Town of Hunter, Forest Ranger Dawson was patrolling Fawn’s Leap swimming area in Kaaterskill Clove when swimmers approached him for medical help. The group reported that their friend jumped off the 30-foot cliff and injured his shoulder when he landed in the water. Ranger Dawson located the 24-year-old man from Pompton Plains, NJ, below the swimming hole, out of the water. Ranger Dawson determined that the swimmer had a dislocated shoulder, and with his permission, reduced the injury and secured the subject’s shoulder in a sling. The man declined additional medical attention and walked out to a friend’s vehicle.