Forest Ranger searches & rescues

RAYBROOK — DEC statewide forest ranger highlights for the week of April 8 to 14.

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.

Village of Lake Placid

Essex County

Award reception: DEC forest rangers were recently recognized for their dedication and professionalism during the annual Adirondack Park Local Government Day in Lake Placid.

During the ceremony, town of Horicon Supervisor Matt Sampson presented the Division of Forest Protection with a certificate on behalf of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Local Government Review Board, and the Adirondack Park Agency.

“These brave men and women safeguard the state’s wildlands and waters, as well as the millions of people who use them annually,” the certificate read.

“Since the establishment of the Forest Preserve in 1885, forest rangers have served as wildland firefighters, wilderness first responders, and protectors of state lands. On a local level, forest rangers are an integral component of emergency services and public outreach. They provide invaluable training to local volunteers for wilderness first aid, search and rescue, and wildland fire management. Our forest rangers are highly respected community members who teach citizens to avoid life-threatening situations, while promoting natural resource protection,” the certificate stated.

Town of Peru

Clinton County

Training: On April 12, DEC forest rangers participated in an active shooter drill led by the state police at the Peru Central School.

Throughout the drill, teachers and school employees acted as students and practiced standard operating procedures for response to an active shooter incident. The day-long training was supported by Clinton County Emergency Services, including local fire and EMS providers, and the participation of DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers and local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

Town of Eaton

Madison County

Wildfire training: On April 12, forest rangers Jeremy Oldroyd, Mike Chappell, Alex Virkler, and Chet Lunt provided basic federal wildfire training to 14 SUNY Morrisville Natural Resource Conservation students and Fire and EMS members from Onondaga County at Morrisville State College. Trainees learned about wildfire suppression techniques and equipment such as high pressure pumps, engines, UTVs, and common suppression hand tools. The participants practiced deploying wildfire shelters and trained under the direct supervision and guidance of the rangers.

The trainees completed several units of the course online and spent the last day with forest rangers for the final classroom and field portion of the course.

City of Albany

Albany County

Prescribed fire: On April 11 and 12, DEC forest rangers, staff from the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, and multiple volunteer fire departments conducted two prescribed burns totaling 18 acres at the Albany Pine Bush. The burns were conducted in grass fields in two different locations in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

On April 13, a small, one-acre prescribed burn was conducted during the field portion of the federal wildland firefighter training to give students a realistic training of conditions they would encounter when dealing with a true wildfire assignment.

DEC forest rangers and Albany Pine Bush Staff annually sponsor this training to increase the ranks of wildland firefighters in the area. The burn will increase openings for warm season grasses, forbs, and wild blue lupine, and reduce the invasion of woody shrubs. This management technique will improve habitat for the Karner Blue Butterfly in the Albany Pine Bush.

Town of Keene

Essex County

Rescue: On April 13 at 2:05 p.m., DEC dispatch in Ray Brook received a request for assistance for a 62-year-old male from Clifton Park with a lower leg injury on Rooster Comb Mountain. Rangers and members of Keene Valley Back Country Rescue were dispatched and assembled for a carryout by 2:45 p.m. Rescuers reached the subject at 3:30 p.m. After administering basic first aid, the rangers packaged the subject into a litter, and a carry-out commenced at 3:45 p.m. The subject was carried down the trail, transferred over to Keene Valley Ambulance, and was en route to Elizabethtown Hospital for treatment by 4:45 p.m.

Town of Gerry

Chautauqua County

Community outreach: On April 13, forest ranger Nathan Sprague assisted Cub Scouts from Pack #209 with trail clean-up as part of the Cub Scouts’ community service projects. Sprague, the Cub Scouts, and their family members spent the day picking up trash and clearing branches and downed tree limbs on the Earl Cardot Eastside Overland Trail in Harris Hill State Forest.

Town of Owego

Tioga County

Wildland search: At 12:30 a.m. April 13, state police requested DEC forest rangers to respond to a search of a missing 13-year-old boy in Apalachin.

The boy had been missing from his home since 8:45 p.m. on April 12, not far from forested lands backing up to Tracey Creek State Forest. Eight Forest Rangers responded to the search and worked with multiple local resources.

An alert was put out through NY Alert and a passerby spotted the boy at about 8 a.m. on April 13 morning near a local business. He was safely reunited with his family.