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Entries from April 17th, 2014

DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger 2013-14 Winter Search and Rescue Report

April 17th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

NYSDEC LogoNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to search and rescue incidents on forest preserve, state forest and conservation easement lands. 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 backcountry.

“DEC Forest Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation and rope rescue techniques are often critical to the success of missions,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Search and rescue missions often require rangers to function in remote wilderness areas from rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and through vast forest areas from spruce-fir thicket to open hardwoods.”

The Adirondacks are popular for outdoor recreation enthusiasts leading to search and rescue incidents. Often times these incidents are a result of an injury or illness beyond the control of the people involved. However, some incidents could be prevented with proper preparation and planning before entering the backcountry.

Clinton County
Town of Saranac, Private Land
On Monday, December 9, 2013, at approximately 7:15 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting two lost hunters. Robert Wood, 79, and his 13-year-old grandson, both of Saranac, NY became lost while bird hunting on private property by taking the wrong logging road. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded with members of the Saranac and Ausable Forks Fire Departments and began searching the area. Mr. Wood followed a swamp back to the road and was located by fire department personnel close to the roadway at approximately 9:50 p.m. The 13 year old was treated for mild hypothermia and released. Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them.

Essex County
Town of Newcomb, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Saturday, December 21, 2013, at approximately 11:58 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call reporting an overdue group of hikers. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded to the area and began searching. Joseph LaLuna, 41 of Queensbury, NY; Jack Webb, 30, of Ft Ann, NY; Scott Sullivan, 55, of Glens Falls, NY; Chris Sullivan, 28, of Kingsbury, NY; Ken Howe, 52, of Granville, NY; and Paul Pruiksma, 46, of Greenwich, NY left the East River trailhead that morning at 8:00 a.m. to hike Allen Mountain. They crossed the Opalescent River via an ice bridge in the morning but upon their return the ice bridge had been swept away and the river was deeper with a raging current. The group backtracked to a road and located an unlocked shelter where they stayed to warm up. At 2:43 a.m. the group was located by a Forest Ranger and found to be in good condition. Forest Rangers shuttled the group back to their vehicle two at a time by snowmobile and all were clear of the scene by 5:30 a.m. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry. Plan and prepare for changing conditions.

Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Monday, December 23, 2013, at approximately 10:05 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting two overdue hikers. Anthony Salvarezza, 52, and Richard Salvarezza, 21, both of Queensbury, NY, planned to hike Saddleback and Basin Mountains that day. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded and found the Salvarezza’s vehicle at the Garden parking lot. Shortly thereafter both hikers were located in good health approximately 0.25 mile from the trailhead. Difficult trail conditions and an attempt to bushwhack up Basin Mountain prolonged their day. Know the terrain and conditions of the area you plan to hike. Inform someone of your trip itinerary and DEC backcountry emergency phone number (518-891-0235).

Town of Keene, Dix Mountain Wilderness Area
On Saturday, December 28, 2013, at approximately 2:41 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting an injured ice climber. Thomas Yandon, 68, of East Amherst, NY, was ice climbing in the Chapel Pond canyon when he fell approximately 30 feet to the base of the route and then slid another 40 feet. Eight Forest Rangers responded along with Keene Valley EMS. Mr. Yandon had multiple injuries and required stabilization. He was backboarded by the Forest Rangers and carried out to an awaiting ambulance where he was transported to Elizabethtown Community Hospital. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.

Town of Wilmington, McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area
On Monday, December 30, 2013, at approximately 3:33 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting a hiker in need of assistance. Travis Callahan, 32, of Philadelphia, NY, was descending Whiteface Mountain when he began experiencing severe leg cramps. Outdoor temperatures were dropping into the single digits at that time. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and evacuated Mr. Callahan by snowmobile. He was rehydrated and sought further medical treatment on his own. Carry plenty of water and food. Eat and drink often and rest frequently. Wear, carry or pack clothes and gear for all weather conditions.

Town of Keene, Giant Mountain Wilderness Area
On Wednesday, January 1, 2014, at approximately 1:12 a.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call reporting an overdue hiker. David Dick, 35, of Ontario, Canada, was hiking Giant Mountain when darkness overcame him. Without a light, he soon lost the trail. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded and began searching the mountain. At 5:17 a.m. Forest Rangers made voice contact with Mr. Dick and at 7:27 a.m. they found him near the ledges on the Nubble Switchback. Mr. Dick was warmed, hydrated and escorted out of the woods. He declined further medical attention and everyone was clear of the scene at 9:17 a.m. Always carry a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries.

Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Saturday, March 15, 2014 at approximately 1:01 p.m., DEC Dispatch Ray Brook received a call reporting an injured hiker. Laurel Allen, 62, of Peru, NY, was hiking Cascade Mountain when she fell ten feet near the first false summit and was injured. She was conscious and alert after the fall but sustained a minor injury. A DEC Forest Ranger responded, met Ms. Allen on the trail and walked her out to her vehicle. Ms. Allen declined further assistance and opted to seek medical treatment on her own. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.

Fulton County
Town of Bleeker, Private Land
On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, at approximately 3:46 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office requesting assistance for a missing person. George Heide, 63, of Bleeker, NY, was missing for approximately 4 hours after saying goodbye to his family and walking into the woods. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and located Mr. Heide at approximately 6:00 p.m. inside an unlocked camper. He was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital for further evaluation. Always inform someone of your itinerary, including an expected return time, and the DEC backcountry emergency phone number (518-891-0235).

Town of Stratford, Ferris Lake Wild Forest
On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at approximately 7:55 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from the Hamilton County Sheriff*s Office reporting a lost snowmobiler. Charles Conaway, 62, of Wells, NY, left his home at 11:00 a.m. for a round-trip snowmobile ride from Wells via Hoffmeister, Salisbury Ridge Runners and the Powley Road in Stratford before returning to Wells. At 7:30 p.m. Mr. Conaway left a message with a friend stating he was “desperately lost in the area of the Powley Road in Stratford.” The reporting party contacted Hamilton County 911 as soon as the message was received. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded to the search. Ray Brook Dispatch attempted cell phone and text contact with Mr. Conaway without success. Temperatures were forecasted to be -7F overnight. Fortunately a short time later, Mr. Conaway contacted Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and advised that he had found his way back to the trail and was on his way home. Know the area in which you plan to recreate. Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them.

Hamilton County
Town of Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Wild Forest
On Monday, December 23, 2013, at approximately 4:05 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office reporting a group of lost hikers. Alex Sleischer, 61, of Plaingfield, NJ; and Balazs Sebestini, 35, Kati Ohens, 38 and Bruno Ohens, 36, all from New Zealand, left the Rock Lake trailhead near Blue Mountain Lake at 11:00 a.m. to hike a short loop. They were lost without a map or compass. The group was growing concerned due to the cold and wet conditions and knowing they were miles from their car. A DEC Forest Ranger responded while Ray Brook Dispatch made cell phone contact with the hikers to relay information back to the Forest Ranger. Based on their answers, the Forest Ranger determined their location and located them at 4:35 p.m. They were returned to their vehicle four miles away in good health. Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them. Wear, carry or pack clothes and gear for all weather conditions.

Town of Long Lake, Moose River Plains Wild Forest
On Friday, February 28, 2014, at approximately 12:03 a.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call from NY State Police reporting a snowmobile accident on Uncas Road in the Town of Long Lake. A DEC Forest Ranger responded to the scene along with Raquette Lake Fire Department. They located the injured snowmobiler, Craig Smith, 43, of Old Forge, NY, approximately 0.7 mile from Raquette Lake and 50 feet from the road. Mr. Smith was packaged and carried out to a waiting ambulance and transported to St. Elizabeth*s Hospital in Utica. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.

Town of Inlet, Pigeon Lake Wilderness
On Sunday, March 16, 2014, at approximately 1:46 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting an injured skier requiring assistance. Gail Hoffman, 70, of Holland Patent, NY, was cross-country skiing on the Cascade Lake Trail when she fell and was injured. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded along with Inlet and Eagle Bay Fire Department and Inlet Police Department. Ms. Hoffman was evacuated on a rescue sled and brought back to the trailhead where she was transported by ambulance to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica for further treatment. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.

Town of Indian Lake, Indian Lake Islands Campground
On Sunday, March 23, 2014, at approximately 7:10 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office reporting an injured snowmobiler. A DEC Forest Ranger responded along with Indian Lake Rescue. A 16-year-old female from Schenectady, NY was ejected from her snowmobile while coming into the boat launch area at the Indian Lake Islands Campground. She was transported by Indian Lake Rescue to the Glens Falls Hospital for evaluation of her injuries. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.

Warren County
Town of Bolton, Private Land
On Saturday, December 7, 2013, at approximately 1:56 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting a hunter in an ATV accident. Clifford Sprague, 64, of Bolton, NY, rolled an ATV while riding and it landed on top of him. Mr. Sprague was conscious and breathing but experiencing pain. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded down the trail to Mr. Sprague’s location, where he was already heading out in a personal vehicle. Once at the trailhead, Mr. Sprague was evaluated by Bolton Rescue and then transported to Glen Falls Hospital for treatment. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.

Washington County
Town of Fort Ann, Lake George Wild Forest
On Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at approximately 5:03 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting two lost hikers on Buck Mountain. The hikers, Emma Rozell, 18, of Granville, NY and Megan Weaver, 18, of Hudson Falls, NY, were in good health but had lost the trail. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded while the Ray Brook Dispatch and Washington County 911 were able to obtain their cell phone coordinates. At 7:30 p.m. a Forest Ranger located them in good condition. Ms.Rozell and Ms.Weaver had been trying to avoid icy conditions on the trail when they became lost without a map or compass. They were escorted back to their vehicles and returned to the trailhead at 8:45 p.m. Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them. Know your abilities and the area you plan to hike.

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Environmental Org Warns ‘Snirt’ ATV Rally Has Grown Too Big

April 11th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Adirondack News

April 12 Event Now Draws 3,600 All-Terrain Vehicles to Tug Hill’s Lewis County Trails & Roads, Leaves Lasting Scar on Landscape & Rivers

Adirondack CouncilLOWVILLE, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization has called on the Lewis County Board of Legislators to reconsider its prediction that an annual all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rally causes no environmental harm.

The Adirondack Council wants Lewis County officials to conduct a full environmental impact study of the annual SNIRT (Snow/Dirt) Rally, which allows ATV riders from across the Northeast to use public highways and the county’s trails to travel between local taverns.

The event causes erosion, excessive noise and disturbances to fish and wildlife, while destroying vegetation, intrudes on quiet neighborhoods and imperils human lives, the Adirondack Council said. Any one of these is reason enough to require a full environmental review under state law, the organization warned.

The SNIRT event drew only a few hundred participants when it began 11 years ago. In recent years, however, more than 3,500 riders have participated. The event’s impact has expanded from Tug Hill into the Adirondack Park, near Brantingham Lake, at the edge of the Independence River Wild Forest.

“We are extremely disappointed that the board of legislators has decided to operate an all-terrain vehicle rally without implementing the necessary changes that would minimize the environmental damage this event has caused in the past,” said Adirondack Council Legislative Director Kevin Chlad in an April 8 letter to the board.

“SNIRT’s rapid and uncontrolled expansion has overwhelmed the capacity of law en forcement, leading to an epidemic of trespassing on both state and private lands. Such lawlessness should be unacceptable to the county’s lawmakers,” Chlad wrote. “Further, we find it troubling that you continue to allow this event on public highways within the Adirondack Park.”

Chlad noted that that operation of ATVs on public highways is illegal, unless roads are properly opened.

“We believe that Lewis County has violated the provisions of section 2405 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law,” which limits the roads that may be opened to ATV traffic to only short distances, and onlywhere they can connect two already-legal ATV-riding areas or trails. Instead, the county opens roads that connect only to other roads.

Chlad said the county appears to be mistakenly relying upon another section of the V&TL (section 2408) to justify its road openings, when that section is merely a set of instructions for how to notify the public of special events.

“The Adirondack Council continues to recommend that a formal State Environmental Quality Review be conducted so that officials may monitor the full extent of damage that the event inflicts, both on the region’s roads and its natural resources,” Chlad advised.

Chlad said the organization strongly disagreed with the county’s finding that the annual event has so little impact on the environment that there is no need for a formal environmental impact study. He reminded county officials that the NY State Environmental Quality Review Act requires a formal environmental review of any proposed event that would cause one of the following to environmental changes:

  • Substantial adverse change in noise levels;
  • Substantial increase in soil erosion;
  • Destruction of large quantities of vegetation;
  • Substantial interference with the movement of fish or wildlife;
  • Impairment of aesthetic resources of community or neighborhood character; or,
  • Creation of a hazard to human health.

Over the past five years, the SNIRT Rally has caused all six of these impacts, Chlad said.

He noted that most of them can be witnessed on videos posted by the event’s participants.

“The Adirondack Council believes that this overdue assessment is a reasonable and necessary step towards improving this event in the future, as it would allow for proper environmental safeguards to be put in place,” he wrote. “We understand and support the county’s desire to boost tourism. However, we strongly believe that state law calls for events such as this to be carefully planned and strictly supervised to prevent the widespread abuses of public and private property that have been left in the wake of every previous SNIRT event.

“A lack of attention to these details encourages a culture of wanton environmental destruction, and at worst, simultaneously promotes drinking and driving with reckless disregard for public and private property and the well-being of other riders,” he noted.

In 2013, dozens of SNIRT participants had to be rescued by local rescue and law enforcement officials when they left the highways that had been opened to them and trespassed into local farm fields, where they were stranded by deep snows. Lewis County still has a significant snowpack as this weekend’s event approaches.

The Adirondack Council is privately funded, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant rural communities. The Council carries out its mission and vision through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.


Recent video of SNIRT Rally: Note that multi-passenger vehicles with roofs are too large to be legally registered as ATVs in NY State. Note also the constant presence of alcohol in these videos, as well as the riders leaving the roads and trails to cross wetlands and farm fields, both of which are supposed to be off-limits to all riders.


Snirt Run 2012 (Whiskey Riders)


2013 Snirt Run

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DEC Announces 2013 Bear Harvest Results

April 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Record Takes Again In the Southern Zone

NYSDEC LogoNew York bear hunters took 1,358 black bears during the 2013 hunting seasons, making last year the second highest bear harvest on record in New York, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

“New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer exciting opportunities for bear hunting,” said Commissioner Martens. “With abundant natural foods this past year, bears were in great condition, and we heard of several hunters who took bears weighing more than 500 pounds dressed. Under New York’s Open for Fishing and Hunting, our Fish and Wildlife Programs are being enhanced and our hunting and fishing licenses are streamlined to ensure increased opportunities for recreational in this state.”

Bear in GrassRegionally, bear hunters took a record 636 bears from the Southeastern bear hunting area and a near record 342 bears (2nd highest take) from the Central-Western bear hunting area. These high harvests reflect that bear populations have increased over the past decade. In addition, an abundance of hard mast (e.g., acorns and other nuts) kept many bears actively feeding later into the fall and available for harvest through the duration of the regular firearms season. Hunters took 224 bears in the Central-Western area and 431 bears in the Southeastern area during the regular firearms season. Bear populations in these ranges are in need of higher harvest rates in coming years in order to stabilize population growth generally and reduce populations in the Catskill region.

2013 Black Bear Harvest Comparison
2013 Bear Harvest

In the Adirondack bear hunting area, hunters took a total of 380 bears, fewer than the recent 5-year average. However, Adirondack bear harvest is the tale of two seasons. Bear harvest during the early bear season, which runs from mid-September through mid-October, is strongly influenced by availability of soft mast (e.g., apples, cherries and berries), and harvests tend to be poor during years with abundant soft mast like the 2013 year. Early season only accounted for 84 bears taken, approximately 65 percent below average. In contrast, hunters did well during the regular season, taking 246 bears, about 13 percent greater than average.

A complete summary of the 2013 bear harvest with results by county, town, and Wildlife Management Unit is available on the DEC website.

NYS Black Bear Management Plan

In January, DEC released a draft black bear management plan for public review and comment. The plan describes DEC’s approach to bear management which includes population management through regulated hunting, mitigation of human-bear conflicts, and technical guidance and outreach to the public about bears and conflict avoidance. The plan proposed several changes to bear hunting, including expanding the area open to bear hunting to encompass all of upstate New York and establishing a supplemental firearms season in September for bears in the Catskill and lower Hudson Valley region. DEC is reviewing the comments received on the plan and anticipates publishing a final version of the plan this spring. See Black Bear Management to review the draft plan.

NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch Program

Hunters play a pivotal role in bear management through reporting their bear harvests, and many hunters also submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of harvested bears. For all hunters who report their harvest and submit a tooth, 680 hunters in 2013, DEC provides a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear’s age. DEC is still processing tooth submissions from 2013, but we anticipate hunters will receive their patch by September 2014.

Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.

In support of this initiative, this year’s budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone largely untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

This year’s budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.

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