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DEC Forest Rangers – Week in Review

For Release: Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Recent Statewide Forest Ranger Actions

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. “

Town of Caroga
Fulton County
Wheeled Litter Training:
On July 25, Forest Ranger Lieutenant Kerr and Rangers Nally and Thompson provided wheeled litter training at the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s monthly meeting. Rangers demonstrated how to package a patient into a litter and, with the use of Speculator Fire Department’s litter wheel, Rangers instructed attendees on its installation, use, and rescue application. Fire department members practiced using the wheel on uneven terrain and steep slopes while Rangers demonstrated simple litter belay techniques. Caroga Lake Fire Department and surrounding mutual aid departments are frequently called upon to assist in wilderness search and rescues in Fulton and Hamilton counties. Continued training and becoming familiar with equipment helps keep personnel prepared for technical wilderness rescues and maintains critical interactency relationships for emergency response in the backcountry.

For a video demonstration of the wheeled litter by Ranger Dawson last summer, go to the DEC Facebook page (leaves DEC website).


Wheeled litter training

Rangers and emergency personnel training with wheeled litter in front of firehouse
Wheeled litter training

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 25 at 12:58 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker who suffered a knee injury while hiking down the Hurricane Mountain trail with their spouse and dog. Ranger Lewis reached the 53-year-old from Hamilton and splinted their knee, but the subject could not put any weight on it. Ranger Lewis was joined by Rangers Balerno, Black, Burns, Curcio, Martin, Mecus, and O’Connor to assist with the carry-out. Rangers used backpack carriers for the steep, rocky section of the trail before switching to a wheeled litter. Rangers transported the hiker via ATV for the final mile to the trailhead. The subject went to Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical attention. Resources were clear at 7 pm

Rangers using wheeled litter and backpack supports to carry person down rough terrain
Hurricane Mountain rescue

Rangers using wheeled litter to carry a person over large tree roots in the woods
Hurricane Mountain rescue


Hurricane Mountain rescue

Village of Tupper Lake
Franklin County
Homicide Investigation:
On July 28 at 1 pm, Forest Ranger Lieutenant LaPierre, Rangers Curcio, DiCintio, and Praczkajlo, and DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) Buffa and Favreau joined New York State Police (NYSP) in the search for a murder suspect after a stabbing in Tupper Lake. At 2:30 pm, Rangers DiCintio and Praczkajlo located the suspect, 26-year-old Alexa Gallagher, who was taken into custody by NYSP. Gallagher is charged with second degree murder in the death of 51-year-old Melissa Guisewhite of Tupper Lake.

Town of Ohio
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 29 at 6:15 pm, Forest Ranger Bills began searching for a 47-year-old man and four children, ages five, eight, nine, and 12, last seen at 11:30 am by relatives at North Lake. The person who reported the group was overdue claimed the man may be intoxicated and looking for the Ice Cave Mountain trail. The children were wearing shorts and t-shirts and did not have food or water. By 9:30 pm, five additional Rangers joined the search. The search area had no cell service, poor radio coverage, and posed many hazards even for experienced hikers. By 2:30 am, Rangers were joined by State Police and NYSP K-9. Search crews spent the night looking at Ice Cave Mountain, Golden Stair Mountain, multiple logging trails, drainages, and swamps with negative results. Six additional Rangers and four members of the NYSP Special Operations Rescue Team (SORT) began searching at 5:50 am Ranger Evans sent two SORT members to search north of Golden Stair Mountain and at 9 am, they found the group in a drainage. The temperature had dropped to 47 degrees overnight, and the children were cold and hungry. Local EMS checked out the group and reunited the children with relatives. The man was taken in by police for questioning.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 29 at 9:25 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio call from Johns Brook Lodge requesting assistance with a hiker who suffered a dental injury while hiking in the Johns Brook Valley. Forest Rangers Curcio and O’Connor responded. Ranger O’Connor reached the 72-year-old from Williamsville at 11:30 pm The subject had hit her face on a rock, and was experiencing significant jaw swelling and teeth damage, and could not close her mouth di lei. Due to exhaustion, the subject could not safely hold onto an ATV, so Rangers stayed with her at the outpost through the night. At 7:30 am, Rangers walked the subject back to the Garden trailhead where she advised she would take herself to the emergency room.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On July 31 at 10:10 am, Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker complaining of chest pains on the Northville-Placid trail. Rangers Curcio and DiCintio worked with NYSP Aviation on a hoist operation at the lean-to near the pond. At 1 pm, Ranger Curcio hoisted down to the 52-year-old from Rexford and safely put the hiker into a helicopter to bring him to the hospital.

Town of Hague
Warren County
Water Rescue:
On July 31, at 12:30 pm, Forest Rangers Kabrehl and Perryman, and Assistant Forest Ranger Haker were on boat patrol on Lake George and overheard Warren County 911 dispatching a Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) Officer to the scene of a boat stranded on the rocks on Anthony’s Nose. The small boat, occupied by two anglers, had washed ashore due to the wake of a large cabin cruiser. Ranger Kabrehl climbed onto the stranded boat and helped the two anglers into the LGPC boat, which took them to the Mossy Point Boat Launch. The boat was removed later that evening.

Forest Ranger and others pushing stranded boat back into water
Stranded boat in Lake George

DEC continues to urge New Yorkers to practice the utmost safety when building campfires this summer. Dry weather throughout June and July has increased the risk of fires. More information about how to reduce the risk of wildfires can be found at DEC’s website.

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.

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