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Old 02-08-2019, 12:38 PM   #1
Lucky13
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SAR Press release

DEC, ADK, and 46ers Announce Initiative to Reduce Number of Search and Rescue Incidents


Effort Starts Presidents' Day Weekend in High Peaks Wilderness and Addresses High Use and Popularity of The Region

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC and its partners are launching a preventative initiative to reduce the number of search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks and help to ensure the public has an enjoyable and safe outdoor experience. The measure will increase engagement between hikers and experienced backcountry users and is part of DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism while also addressing public safety in the Adirondack region.

"New Yorkers are discovering the incredible treasure that is the Adirondacks, and outreach and education are the most effective means to protect the natural resources of the area and ensure the safety of backcountry users," said Commissioner Seggos. "Hikers who properly prepare and plan before going out on the trails are less likely to get lost or injured. Hikers who are knowledgeable about proper backcountry practices have significantly less impact on the natural resources, infrastructure, and other users. This effort will increase face-to-face interactions with hikers-the most effective means of educating visitors to the backcountry."

DEC Forest Rangers, Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) stewards and educators, and the Adirondack 46ers' volunteer trailhead stewards will promote proper planning and preparation through direct conversations with hikers at trailheads and on the trails.

This initiative, which builds on DEC's efforts to work with the communities and recreating public to address issues associated with the popularity of this region, will start in the High Peaks Wilderness on February 16-18, coinciding with the upcoming Presidents' Day holiday weekend. DEC Forest Rangers, ADK Summit Stewards, and volunteers from Keene and the Keene Backcountry Rescue organization will interact with hikers to ensure they are properly dressed, equipped, and prepared for the conditions they are likely to face on their hikes.

Hikers can expect to see Forest Rangers, stewards, and volunteers at the ADK's High Peaks Information Center, at trailheads, and on the trails of popular hiking routes in the High Peaks. DEC encourages hikers to stop and speak with the staff they encounter, ask questions, and listen to what these backwoods experts have to say so that everyone's experience is safer and more enjoyable.

"We are excited to continue our partnership with DEC and the 46ers to promote responsible recreation," said ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth. "Planning ahead and preparing for your adventure is the most important principle of Leave No Trace. These outdoor skills and ethics protect recreationists and our valuable natural resources. Our cumulative voice in sharing this message is a powerful way to protect our public lands."

Due to the rising popularity of the Adirondacks, DEC Forest Rangers have seen an increase in backcountry search and rescue incidents requiring response. This is especially true in the High Peaks Wilderness, where the most recent four-year average rose to 97 search and rescue incidents per year. During the previous four years, Forest Rangers responded to an average of 65 incidents per year. Many of these incidents are the result of hikers being improperly prepared.

The initiative is based on the successful Preventative Search and Rescue program developed by the National Park Service. This program has decreased the number of search and rescue incidents on popular backcountry routes in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Parks. Face-to-face education is a vital component of the program.

"Plan Ahead and Prepare" is the first of the Leave No Trace Seven Principles and the main theme of Hike Safe's Hiker Responsibility Code. DEC reminds hikers recreating this winter to plan ahead and be prepared for the elements:
•Know your skill level and physical capabilities - choose trails within your or your group's ability. Remember it takes more effort and energy to move through snow;
•Inform someone of your travel plans and let them know where you are going, your planned route, when you plan to return, and emergency numbers to call if you do not return at the scheduled time;
•Wear base layers of moisture-wicking fabric to keep your skin dry and insulating layers such as wool or fleece, waterproof or water-resistant outer layers, thick socks, a winter hat, gloves or mittens, gaiters, and waterproof, insulated boots;
•Wear snowshoes or skis and bring trail crampons or micro spikes; Bring plenty of food and water. Eat, drink, and rest often to prevent hypothermia;
•Pack a first aid kit, extra clothing, a fire starter kit, headlamp with extra batteries, and a trail map;
•and Keep an eye on the weather, and if conditions worsen, head back immediately.


http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html
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Old 02-11-2019, 03:15 PM   #2
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Why not have a special permit which could be free but requires a short course and test in survival preparations. After all it could be the difference between life and the other option.
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Old 02-15-2019, 12:33 AM   #3
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Why not have a special permit which could be free but requires a short course and test in survival preparations. After all it could be the difference between life and the other option.
Before we all come up with excuses. This could be an online course similar to the requirements for operating a jet ski. You study and take the test. You print out your mountain hiking permit. At the base you enter your permit number on a roster. Free permit. No permit? Big fine. Which will motivate most people into getting the permit. Want to take a chance on not having it? Who is going to enforce it? It self-enforces. The whole idea is to educate those who have no idea on being prepared. It WILL reduce incidents and prevent the need for as many SAR rescues.
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Old 02-15-2019, 11:35 AM   #4
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Before we all come up with excuses. This could be an online course similar to the requirements for operating a jet ski. You study and take the test. You print out your mountain hiking permit. At the base you enter your permit number on a roster. Free permit. No permit? Big fine. Which will motivate most people into getting the permit. Want to take a chance on not having it? Who is going to enforce it? It self-enforces. The whole idea is to educate those who have no idea on being prepared. It WILL reduce incidents and prevent the need for as many SAR rescues.
I think this could work. But as you say, someone somewhere will object, "What about people with no access to a computer, or the ones who can't read? It will exclude them unfairly." So it will never get off the ground.
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Old 02-17-2019, 09:16 AM   #5
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Before we all come up with excuses. This could be an online course similar to the requirements for operating a jet ski. You study and take the test. You print out your mountain hiking permit. At the base you enter your permit number on a roster. Free permit. No permit? Big fine. Which will motivate most people into getting the permit. Want to take a chance on not having it? Who is going to enforce it? It self-enforces. The whole idea is to educate those who have no idea on being prepared. It WILL reduce incidents and prevent the need for as many SAR rescues.
Why not have a free class like they do for hunting licenses It would include First aide preparedness clothing needs etc. Of course it would be optional but I would bet there would be a lot of people comming to them.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:04 AM   #6
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I think some kind of education program is a good idea to create some baseline awareness in some people. But I think that something like that would be a supplement to, NOT a substitute for face to face interaction with a human at the trailhead:
>Education programs are minimally effective. Look at some of the products of our formal education system, even after thousands of hours of forced attendance.
>Many folks today don't read signs. They won't read an education presentation either, just click through it as fast as they can to get whatever cert is provided at the end.
>Many folks today are not aware of what's going on around them, and won't remember something they heard 5 minutes ago, much less last year.

So nothing wrong with this kind of a program; I don't oppose it. My concern with it is that it will become a cover/excuse for the state to continue steadfastly refusing to fund a (fairly inexpensive) program of full time, paid trailhead educators to meet hikers face to face and discuss the "top three most important things" as mentioned above.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:17 AM   #7
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Problem solved.
https://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Hiking


https://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Camping
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:43 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TCD View Post
I think some kind of education program is a good idea to create some baseline awareness in some people. But I think that something like that would be a supplement to, NOT a substitute for face to face interaction with a human at the trailhead:
>Education programs are minimally effective. Look at some of the products of our formal education system, even after thousands of hours of forced attendance.
>Many folks today don't read signs. They won't read an education presentation either, just click through it as fast as they can to get whatever cert is provided at the end.
>Many folks today are not aware of what's going on around them, and won't remember something they heard 5 minutes ago, much less last year.

So nothing wrong with this kind of a program; I don't oppose it. My concern with it is that it will become a cover/excuse for the state to continue steadfastly refusing to fund a (fairly inexpensive) program of full time, paid trailhead educators to meet hikers face to face and discuss the "top three most important things" as mentioned above.
The sportsman Education program has been very successful In the 60's there were 137 (AVERAGE) and as of last year there were 22 http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/hrsi18.pdf
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:11 PM   #9
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There are just not enough volunteers to accomplish the task.
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:45 PM   #10
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There are just not enough volunteers to accomplish the task.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schultzz View Post
Why not have a special permit which could be free but requires a short course and test in survival preparations. After all it could be the difference between life and the other option.
It is hard enough to break a ranger or two away somewhere in the state once a year to schedule and hold basic trainings (as is mandated by the state) for basic SAR procedures for firefighters and SAR team new members. Often requires overtime on their part. Similarly for infrequent Wilderness Guide exam sittings. I can imagine that administering a survival course and test for the masses would be another kind of DEC regulatory, administrative and assignment nightmare. How would permit compliance be monitored and enforced?

A couple of years ago, Jack Drury (author of The Backcountry Classroom) and promoter of Adirondack "Hamlets to Huts" proposed a plan for knowledgeable community volunteers to provide basic information/training to newcomers (tourists) in villages and at trailheads. I don't know that the plan received much traction.
DSettahr may have updated information on this.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:49 PM   #11
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I’m happy to see more efforts are being made to help reduce the number of unprepared & uneducated “hikers & backcountry users”. However, the article seems to only focus on “hikers” and doesn’t really say anything about educating people about proper overnight camping practices & etiquette, especially in the Eastern High Peaks region. Hopefully this will also be part of the education process, as it seems clear that is still an on going issue in the region as well.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:23 PM   #12
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There are just not enough volunteers to accomplish the task.
Was there actually anything new in the commissioners announcement?

Or to stay in another way. What is new in this announcement?

My point of view is at a high level Nothing New here. Just kicking the can down the road.

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Old 02-14-2019, 03:33 PM   #13
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How rangers spent their time in 2017

https://www.northcountrypublicradio....ger_report.jpg
Rangers spent 14% of their time on search and rescues according to the article.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:42 AM   #14
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https://www.northcountrypublicradio....ger_report.jpg
Rangers spent 14% of their time on search and rescues according to the article.
It reads search and rescues and training. Big difference than just search and rescues I imagine.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:28 PM   #15
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Three things:

1) Like the folks that got stuck on Algonquin, many underestimate the weather
2) They also underestimate the time it takes to complete an outing.
3) No map and compass skills. How many actually know what direction their destination is from their vehicle, and vice-versa? They just follow the yellow brick road known as a trail.

I could go on and on, and I'm sure many on this forum could too. But these are the big three in my opinion.
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:00 PM   #16
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I'll add that many underestimate the time it takes to get out and many of the SAR reports I see are the result of not having a source of light after dark. hint: a cell phone does not count as a flashlight or headlamp.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:24 AM   #17
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Hi Johnny. Thanks for your comment. Folks could access the information at a library or the Addacks Museum, or...at a retail store or gas station. Some people are afraid of computers but I am sure they know someone who has one. Nowadays smart phones can be used to access the info along with PSA radio announcements, etc. Not trying to reinvent the wheel, just want folks to know the possible dangers of hiking without proper preparation. SAR is expensive and expansive. Most forum members here I am sure know how to take precautions but there are many lurkers who may not.
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Old 02-17-2019, 05:44 AM   #18
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Hi Johnny. Thanks for your comment. Folks could access the information at a library or the Addacks Museum, or...at a retail store or gas station. Some people are afraid of computers but I am sure they know someone who has one. Nowadays smart phones can be used to access the info along with PSA radio announcements, etc. Not trying to reinvent the wheel, just want folks to know the possible dangers of hiking without proper preparation. SAR is expensive and expansive. Most forum members here I am sure know how to take precautions but there are many lurkers who may not.
I still like the idea and think it could work. Like a hike safe card but free.
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Old 02-18-2019, 11:50 PM   #19
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"Many folks today don't read signs. They won't read an education presentation either, just click through it as fast as they can to get whatever cert is provided at the end."

If you enroll in the course you must take a test. That's how you get the permit.
Your points are well taken and no one is trying to circumvent interaction with a competent trail person, but some people do things based on a whim at the last minute and do not realize how rugged the high peaks can be if you are not prepared. Just trying to prevent impetuous citizens from getting into trouble because the set out unprepared. Some pay for it with their lives. Cell phones don't always get a signal in the park. I have even been on a SAT phone unable to get through. I don't mind at all participating in SAR efforts as a volunteer but with more and more people using the Park every year perhaps we could even the odds with some educational efforts.
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Old Today, 09:34 AM   #20
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From this week's Ranger report.

"High Peaks Wilderness
Preventative Search and Rescue Initiative: Region 5 Forest Rangers piloted a preventative Search and Rescue initiative during the President's Day holiday weekend in the High Peaks Wilderness. Staff from Adirondack Mountain Club and volunteers from Keene-Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue partnered in the effort to directly interact with hikers entering the backcountry. Forest Rangers, ADK staff, and volunteers were stationed at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead, Adirondak Loj Trailhead, the High Peaks Information Center, and on other trails in the area where they queried hikers about their destination, gear, equipment and clothing. They also provided information and displays to demonstrate the proper gear, equipment, and clothing necessary to help ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. Statistics from Cascade Mountain show that more than 100 hikers were encountered each day on Saturday and Sunday. Approximately 40 percent were unprepared because of improper clothing or footwear. The overall goal of this effort is to decrease the number of unprepared hikers and the number of search and rescue incidents. Forest Rangers and other participants will meet to evaluate the pilot initiative and use the information to determine how best to implement the initiative in the coming year.

View looking out from inside outreach tent with table that has informational pamphlets on it as a Forest Ranger walks by towards a hiker Snowy terrain with cross country skiiers on left and right with their attention turned to Forest Ranger.
Forest Rangers speak with hikers during Adirondack outreach effort

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/press.html"
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