Monday, April 24, 2017

Recent Adirondack Search and Rescue Operations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. 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 the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.

Statewide Wildfire suppression: On April 10 and 11, Forest Rangers responded to 11 different wildfires across the state totaling 77 acres. The fires occurred in Essex, St. Lawrence, Sullivan, Ulster, Washington, Orange, and Saratoga counties. Eight of these fires were battled within daytime hours; three spanned two days. During the second day of the Essex County fire, trained firefighting inmates from the NYS Moriah Shock Camp helped Rangers extinguish the remaining fire in tree snags and logs. There were no reported injuries or building damages from any of these fires. Four of the fires were caused by abandoned and illegal open burnings while three others were related to discarded smoking materials. On April 15, Region 4 Rangers helped several fire departments control a 22-acre wildfire adjoining the Selkirk Railroad in Albany County. Although the fire was extinguished by 6 pm, strong winds allowed it to burn quickly through a wetland. The statewide burn ban remains in effect through May 14. For more information on the ban click here.

Clinton County

Town of Dannemora
Rescue: At 2:52 pm on April 15, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Clinton County 911 that there were three injured hikers on the Lyon Mountain trail. Coordinates obtained from a cell phone call placed the hikers .2 miles off the trail in deep snow. The three injured hikers reported they were still mobile and moving slowly toward the trailhead. Two Rangers were dispatched to intercept the hikers, and at 6:12 pm the three were returned to the trailhead with assistance from a Lyon Mountain Fire Department utility vehicle. The three were treated at the scene for minor injuries and released.

Town of Mooers
Search: On April 18 at 8 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was called by Quebec Emergency Services to report a lost family of six along the U.S.-Canadian border near the Gulf Unique Area. Forest Rangers Rob Praczkajlo and David Russell responded, as did local fire departments, Sheriff Deputies, and U.S. Border Patrol and Customs agents. The family’s cell phone call included geographical references that allowed searchers to narrow the search area. Within an hour of their call, the family was found by searchers and returned to their car.

Essex County

Town of North Elba
Rescue: On April 15 at 7:39 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a woman who reported that she and a male companion were hiking Whiteface Mountain via the Connery Pond Trail near Lake Placid but were cold, wet, and unable to hike out. Dispatch obtained cell phone coordinates from Essex County 911, which placed the two 1.5 miles from the summit of Whiteface. Five Rangers responded to the trailhead as the couple were still able to hike down the mountain. Rangers met the hikers at Whiteface Landing, where they were treated for cold injuries and transported to the trailhead. Lake Placid Emergency Medical Services provided further treatment to the male hiker and transported the woman to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for hospital treatment. All responders were back in service by 11:30 pm.

Village of Saranac Lake
Search: On April 18 at 6 p.m., a 67-year-old Saranac Lake grandfather reported to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch that he and his 8-year-old grandson were lost on Mount Baker, a popular hiking destination with spectacular views of the area. Forest Rangers Rob Praczkajlo and Robbi Mecus made phone contact with the man and directed the pair to the proper trail. The Rangers navigated to their location and helped the pair out of the woods by 8 p.m.

Town of Keene
Rescue: On April 21, three Forest Rangers responded to a report of a 26-year-old Syracuse woman suffering fatigue on Nippletop Mountain. Her husband attempted to rehydrate her but needed assistance with her evacuation. Rangers used an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) through the Adirondack Mountain Reserve property to provide first aid and transportation. Within five hours of the initial call, the couple were back to their car and in no need of further medical attention.

Town of Keene
Search: On April 22, seven Forest Rangers responded to a call from a group of Canadian hikers who reported that three of their friends had separated on the Fish Hawk Trail and not returned at the end of the day as planned. The two women and one man, in their mid-20s, were not prepared for a long stay in the deep snow and below freezing temperatures at higher elevations of the Great Range, nor did they have flashlights for hiking out at night. These circumstances led Rangers to believe this was a life-threatening incident. As morning began, 15 Forest Rangers were assigned to find the trio, as well as one state police helicopter to insert rangers to interior locations. The three hikers were able to evacuate themselves and returned to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve trailhead by 9 a.m. with no need for medical attention.

Franklin County

Town of Tupper Lake
Search: On April 14 at 1:20 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for two Tupper Lake women, ages 49 and 53, who were lost on Coney Mountain. Rangers arrived on scene at 1:35 pm. The Rangers made voice contact with the subjects and the women were subsequently located at 2 pm. Both women were escorted out of the woods and reunited with the reporting party. The incident concluded at 2:40 pm.

Hamilton County

Town of Long Lake
Search: On April 17 at 8:40 p.m., a 20-year-old Utica man reported that two of his hiking companions were lost on Blue Mountain. The two were reported to be wearing shorts and did not have flashlights or other necessary cold weather gear. Forest Rangers Jim Waters and Gary Miller responded, found the pair on the mountain, and escorted them to their cars by midnight.

Lewis and Jefferson Counties

ATV event: The “SNIRT” snow and dirt off-road vehicle event takes place annually in Lewis County and draws approximately 8,000 participants using 5,000 registered ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) to ride town and county roads legally designated for ATV use. The event benefits the local snowmobile club, “Sno-Pals.” As in years past, Forest Rangers were assigned to protect State Land from illegal ATV use while providing public safety and emergency response. There are approximately 20,000 acres of state land and 40,000 acres of easements along the SNIRT trails. This year, additional roads were opened in the town of Greig for this event. Some of these roads are adjacent to Independence River Wild Forest Preserve within the Adirondack Park. Twelve Forest Rangers, six Lewis County Sheriffs Deputies, eight State Park Police, four DEC Environmental Conservation Officers, and four State Troopers were assigned to this event. Rangers issued 15 tickets for illegal operation on public lands, unauthorized motor vehicle use on state land, unregistered ATV, failure to wear a helmet, and uninsured operation of an ATV.

Saratoga County

Town of Stillwater
Prescribed Fire: On April 18, Forest Rangers Jamie Laczko and Joe Hess assisted National Park Service Rangers to conduct a 30-acre prescribed fire at Saratoga National Battlefield. These burns are conducted each year as a management tool to maintain the openness of the park as it was during the 1700s. DEC has a wildfire mutual aid and prescribed fire support agreement with the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service that allows agencies to share firefighters and equipment to support their missions. The burn was completed by mid-afternoon.

Washington County

Town of Dresden
Search: On April 23, Forest Rangers Anthony Goetke and Evan Donavan responded to a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting three teenage hikers lost near Erebus. The group had climbed Sleeping Beauty Mountain but took the wrong trail on their descent. The group’s cell phone did not provide location coordinates. As the group explained their location to Ranger Evans, he was able to identify their location. Within three hours, Donegan found the two Saratoga women and one Rensselaer man, and within an hour they were back at their vehicle.

Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.

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