During February 2023, a few New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers were busy setting forest fires for a good reason.

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According to the New York State DEC website, on February 8th, in Albany County, NYS DEC Forest Rangers joined with the  Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff to conduct a prescribed fire of about 22 acres. The reason is that prescribed fires in New York State help prevent the spread of invasive species and reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.

Controlled Burn
photo provided by the NYS DEC

Also on February 8th, Forest Rangers assisted staff from the NYS DEC Division of Lands and Forests, Brookhaven National Lab, Central Pine Barrens Commission, and volunteers to conduct a prescribed fire in the David A. Sarnoff Pine Barrens State Forest. Firefighters for a burn of 67 burn piles.

The NYS DEC notes that these "controlled burns make the forest more resilient to the invasive southern pine beetle and help reduce fuel loads to better prevent wildfires that could impact nearby communities."

Controlled Burn
photo provided by the NYS DEC

In 2023, NYS DEC Rangers extinguished 146 wildfires and participated in 52 prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate more than 1,000 acres of land.

But that's just one of many things they do.  In 2023, NYS DEC Forest Rangers conducted 370 search and rescue missions. On February 7th, a Ranger assisted with a search for a subject with dementia, who was eventually found safe.

Also on February 7th, NYS DEC Forest Rangers joined members of the Algonquin Sno-Blazers snowmobile club to reset a snowmobile and hiking bridge that was displaced due to rain and snow melt, using old telephone poles to allow a safe crossing for snowmobiles, snowshoers, and skiers across a creek.

And on February 11th a NYS DEC Ranger was notified about two hikers lost in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. The hikers lost the trail as darkness set in and called 911. NYS DEC Ranger Horn called one hiker’s cell phone and helped guide the pair a short distance back to the trail.

DEC Forest Rangers are among the nation’s most versatile first responders, utilizing their expert training and wide-ranging knowledge to protect natural resources while encouraging responsible stewardship among those who visit State lands and sites. Their expertise in wildland fire suppression, technical rescue techniques, and law enforcement means that Rangers are always prepared to successfully execute critical missions, here in New York State, as well as across the continent. - New York State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos

For more details and information on the great work our NYS DEC Rangers do, visit the NYS DEC website.

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