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.
Town of Newcomb
Wildland Search: On September 1 at 2:45 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was advised of an overdue 56-year-old Watervliet man camping at Blue Ridge Campground. The subject had left for a hike at 6 am to look for old glass bottles. By 3:15 pm, three DEC Forest Rangers began the search of Branch River and located the man near Blue Ridge Falls. Rangers believe he became disoriented without food and water and walked downstream to Palmer Pond and then back upstream to Blue Ridge Falls. By 4:30 pm, the subject was back at his campsite.
Town of Wilmington
Wildland Search: On September 1 at 6:40 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch was notified about two hikers lost on Marble Mountain Trail. Cell phone coordinates placed the Wilmington couple on a small feeder stream to the Ausable River. Ranger Scott van Laer called the couple and told them to follow the stream downhill for one half-mile. At that point, the subjects arrived at a private campground and were given a ride back to their vehicle by 7:45 pm.
Town of Keene
Rescue: On September 3 at 2 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was called by a group on the trail between Cascade and Porter mountains reporting a 55-year-old Johnstown woman with an ankle injury. The man was unable to walk. Group members administered basic first aid while waiting for Forest Ranger assistance. Four Forest Rangers and three Assistant Rangers responded along with Keene and Keene Valley Firefighters. The woman was secured in a rescue litter and carried to the trailhead, where she was transferred to an ambulance for hospital treatment.
Town of Arietta
Wildland Search: On August 29 at 5 pm, Hamilton County Sheriff’s 911 phoned DEC Ray Brook Dispatch to report four lost but uninjured canoers on Raquette Lake. The group shared cell phone coordinates with the dispatcher, and Forest Ranger Gary Miller responded by motorboat. By 6:30 pm, Miller found the four lost Saranac Lake men on the Marion River between Raquette and Utowana lakes. Miller transported the group back to the Raquette Lake boat launch by 7 pm. The four were part of a multi-boat group preparing for the 90-mile canoe race planned for the weekend after Labor Day.
Town of Inlet
Wildland Search: On August 31 at 7:30 pm, Forest Ranger Gary Miller was notified of an overdue bicyclist riding in Moose River Plains. The 58-year-old Brooklyn man was unable to keep up with his party and presumed lost or injured along the vast Moose River Plains trail system. A Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy initiated a search from the east while Ranger Miller searched from the west. At 8:15 pm, Miller found the cyclist exhausted but uninjured and gave him a courtesy ride back to his group in Inlet.
Town of Long Lake
Rescue: On September 4 at 1:45 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Hamilton County 911 of a 33-year-old Ballston Lake woman with an ankle injury on Owls Head Mountain in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest. The woman’s hiking partners attempted to help her return to their vehicles but were unable to complete the distance. Four Forest Rangers used an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to evacuate the hiker back to her vehicle. By 4:30 pm, all were at the trailhead and the hiker was able to seek her own medical treatment.
Town of Brighton
Wildland Search: On September 2 at 7:15 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a lost lone hiker attempting to climb the Saranac Lake Six, a series of mountain peaks in the area. A family member reported that she last spoke to the 40-year-old Natural Bridge resident at 11 am, when he said he was lost and ill on St. Regis Mountain. Five Forest Rangers responded, as well as a State Police helicopter with night vision capability. Neither the trail nor air search found any signs of the hiker. By Sunday morning, 19 Rangers searched the area. However, heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey prevented helicopter flights. As the weather cleared on Monday morning, 26 Forest Rangers were involved with the search, with efforts supported by the Paul Smiths-Gabriel Fire Department, local search volunteers, State Police, and New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. At 8:40 am, helicopter personnel spotted a person signaling for help. A Forest Ranger was inserted to the location and helped secure the man for a lift. After hoisting him into the helicopter, the subject was flown to Saranac Lake Adirondack Medical Center, evaluated, and released.
Also, in a Statewide Response to Texas
On September 1, five DEC Forest Rangers accompanied the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) incident management team (IMT) to College Station, Texas, where the IMT will support local agencies in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Four Rangers will serve in key IMT positions with training and experience gained over decades of managing wildfires, wildland searches, rescue missions, and all-hazard response incidents. One Forest Ranger is trained, licensed, and equipped to operate a DEC unmanned aircraft system (UAS, aka drone) to provide reconnaissance to the IMT. The team is expected to spend at least 14 days on this assignment before returning to New York.
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.