Monday, November 30, 2009

A Park Ranger's Life To Be Included In College Program

A Park Ranger's Life has been adopted by the University of Northern Arizona as required reading for students in the seasonal law enforcement training program. This is a curriculum certified by the National Park Service for people wanting to qualify for temporary jobs with that may lead to future permanent employment in law enforcement with land management agencies.

A Park Ranger's Life Now Available in Waynesboro, Virginia

The book A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks, is now available in Waynesboro, Virginia at the Stone Soup Bookstore and Cafe. Stone Soup is located at 908 W. Main Street.

I will be at Stone Soup this coming Saturday between 2 and 5pm for their Holiday Book Fair. Stop by for some conversation with more than twenty authors including myself. You could even get a book signed as a Christmas Gift for yourself or others.

Oh, and by the way, the food in the Cafe section is great. I had lunch there today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reader Review

A new on line reader review of A Park Ranger's Life.

Very Entertaining and Well Written, each chapter is just the right length, once you start a story you can't put it down until you finish. Makes you feel like you are there and part of the story. Great mix and variety of stories. Very informative overview of the in's and out's of Park Rangering. Anyone that wants to know what goes into protecting our National Parks should read A Park Ranger's Life. Recommended book for all ages. Hopefully this is just the beginning of Bruce Bytnar's writing career!

- Z. C.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reader Reviews

Here are some early reader's reviews of A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks.

If you ever wanted to be a park ranger this is a must read for you. A candid look at life inside our national parks by one of the rangers that lived the adventure. Bytnar is a strong writer and will take the reader on a trip filled with humor, danger and at times frustration as he recounts his life as a U. S. Park Ranger.

-John G.

All ages will love this book. It is an entertaining easy read that encompasses different aspects of a Park Ranger's responsibilities. Bruce W. Bytnar's storytelling makes you feel as if he wrote it just for you. Hope to see more of his writing soon!

-Nancy K.

Lucky for me, I signed up for SLETP and found Ranger Bytnar's website during my research. When I found out he was writing a book I was very happy because there couldn't have been better timing for me to learn of things I might be doing in my future endeavors.

I found this book to be very informative in terms of the information regarding National Park law enforcement. He touches on a lot on how Rangers are a jack of all trades. It seems that the NPS brass take(s) advantage of the fact that they have men and women in this position that can wear so many hats, and on top of that are dedicated to the point of giving up their lives to complete and protect the integrity of the National Park Service's mission. Meanwhile the people who give these...... well, you should just read the book.

You can tell Mr. Bytnar loved his job, the area he worked, and the people he helped. This book touches on a lot of the problems faced by Rangers and by visitors to parks. Anyone who loves National Parks would love this book.

- Patrick M.

Park Rangers, Vehicles, and Deer

The above vehicle swerved to miss a deer on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unfortuately for the owner he had three dead deer that he had ilegally shot at night in the car with him at the time. In the bottom left corner you can see one of his victims that he tried to hide. You can learn more about this incident in my book, A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks.

National Parks provide excellent habitat for whitetail deer. Most parks also provide excellent habitat for motor vehicles in the form of tour roads and parkways. The ultimate result is the consistent number of deer/car motor vehicle collisions. Even park service employees are not immune to this hazard. The National Park Service being a branch of the Federal Government is considered non-insurable (is that not a scary thought). So any damage repairs to vehicles must be absorbed by operating budgets. While a manager on the Blue Ridge Parkway it only took two deer/vehicle collisions to completely clean out a district supplies and equipment budget for a year.

I worked with a ranger who was bragging one day about how proud he was that he had worked for over thirty years on the Blue Ridge Parkway and never hit a deer. It was not a week later that a deer ran out in front of him and did almost $2,000 damage to his patrol vehicle. It was a humbling experience.

Even I was not immune to deer. In 1982 I had been run off the road by a car coming from the opposite direction while responding to a two car collision that had people entrapped. The front end of my car was demolished. It took several months to get all the approvals and work done to repair the damage. I got the repaired car back on Christmas Eve.

Christmas night the fog was about the thickest I had ever seen in that area. I got a call at my home around 9pm that there was a two car collision with injuries about thirty miles north of our house. I started on my way realizing that I had just worked another collision at that same location a few days before. I was crawling through the fog with my eyes locked on the yellow center line trying to stay on the road when I caught a movement out of the right corner of my eye and a deer came out of nowhere and crashed into the newly replaced right front fender of my car knocking out the headlight. I had injured people ahead of me, so I continued on my way further blinded with only one headlight.

Six miles further up the road I caught movement in the fog to my left and another deer slammed into my left front fender and my last headlight went out. Again I felt the urgent need to get to the injured people and continued with one parking light and my light bar flashing slowly poking my way through the fog at times loosing sight of the center line.

When I finally arrived at the scene, the rescue squad had arrived and were loading two people into an ambulance. When the EMT gave me their names I was surprised to find that the young lady involved had been in the collision I worked at this site two days earlier. Her boyfriend had picked her up at the hospital to go to her parents house for a few hours Christmas night. They had been traveling north in the fog when they pulled over to the left hand road shoulder to look at where her earlier crash had occurred. While sitting in the fog on the roadshoulder with their headlights on, another car came southbound seeing their lights thinking their car was in the north bound lane. By the time the second driver realized his mistake, it was to late and he hit the young couple's car head on. Her injuries were worse from the second collision than the first.

Apparently the deer had seen enough of me that night for in the twenty seven years I worked on the Blue Ridge Parkway these were the only collisions I had with wildlife.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Radio Interview

Monday November 23, 2009

I will be on WREL AM Radio (1450am our of Lexington, Virginia) this morning for their local interview program. The show runs from 11am to 12 noon.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Available in Buena Vista, Virginia

My book is now available at the Visitor Center on Route 60 in Buena Vista, Virginia.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Saturday January 16th In Charlottesville, Virginia

On Saturday January 16th I will be at the New Dominion Book Store at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia to sign books. I will be at the store between 11am and 1pm. Stop by if you are in the area.

Reading and Story Telling

I will be at Books and Company in Lexington, Virginia on Sunday afternoon December 13 for a session of reading and story telling from my book, A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks. I will be at the store between 2 and 4pm. Stop by if you are in the area.

I am also working on setting a date for a book signing at the Old Dominion Book Store on the downtown mall in Charlotttesville, Virginia some time in January.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Information on National Park Service Budget Short Falls

Check out the article at the link with this post to learn about the affects of budgetary shortfalls in our National Parks. The article, by Kathryn Herrup, quotes Phil Francis the Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway and his concerns about staffing.

From the article:

The number of park law enforcement officials has been drastically slashed in an effort to deal with funding shortfalls. The 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway National Park in North Carolina and Virginia for instance has had to cut back 40 percent of its staff. It now has only about 35 law enforcement rangers to deal with 16 million visitors to its 300 miles of trails, and the reduced number of rangers has a direct affect on visitors. Phil Francis, superintendent of the park, says that one of his rangers recently had to decide whether to first respond to a potentially deadly car crash or to a person who was having a heart attack. "Imagine if you have to wait for a person to drive 40 or 50 miles to respond to a medical emergency."

I can attest from my experience that that Mr. Francis is not exaggerating in his depiction of response times for emergencies on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I know in several instances where rangers called for backup in potentially life threatening situations where assistance took more than an hour to arrive. I personally responded to emergencies from distances of more than 60 miles of mountainous roads because I was the only one working that day.

We simply do not have enough National Park Rangers working in the field to work safely, let alone accomplish the National Park Service mission of protecting the public and our nation's most valuable resources.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Up Coming Book Events

November 23 Radio Interview on WREL AM Radio Lexington, Virginia

November 27 Book Signing at Books and Company, Lexington Virginia

December 5 Book Festival at Stone Soup Bookstore and Cafe, Waynesboro, Virginia

December 8 Association of National Park Rangers Rendezvous, Gettysburg, Pa.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reader's Review from Amazon.Com

All ages will enjoy this book. It is an easy entertaining read that encompasses different aspects of a park ranger's responsibilities. Bruce W. Bytnar's storytelling makes you feel as if he wrote it just for you. Hope to see more of his writing soon!

Nancy K. from Indiana

Book Event in Waynesboro, Virginia

On December 5th I will be at the Stone Soup Bookstore and Cafe in Waynesboro, Virginia for their 1st Annual Holiday Book Fair. Fifteen authors will be there between 2pm and 5pm to sign their books.

For more information you can check their web site at:

Park Ranger Resource Knowledge

Dating back to the founders of the conservation and national park movements of the late 19th century, it was recognized that to be affective protectors of natural and cultural resources those charged with that responsibility needed to be well versed and knowledgeable about those resources. This need is essential even in today's world for national park rangers to accomplish their mission of protecting and preserving irreplaceable resources for future generations. Merely having a knowledge of policies, procedures, and abilities in specific skills are only part of the story. At times I see examples where the National Park Service is producing highly skilled specialists in fields such as law enforcement, administration, and maintenance that have very little base knowledge about the resources they are charged to protect.
As an example; if a park is experiencing problems with taking of plants such as ginseng, a park ranger needs to be able to identify the plant and root both in the ground and in a violators pocket. To better provide protection for the plants a ranger needs to be knowledgeable about the plant's habitat to be able to identify the areas of the park to check for criminals or monitor declining populations.
In a historic or cultural site park rangers need to know where valuable resources are located within the park and take steps to monitor and protect those high value areas. I was assigned to review operations at a significant historic area managed by the National Park Service. While riding on patrol with rangers I noted an area in the center of the park that had a low split rail fence around it and signs that said "Area Closed Keep Out." I asked each ranger what was in this wooded grove and none could specifically tell me nor had any of them walked the perimeter or entered beyond the fence. I then asked how they could tell if anyone else was going in the area and how they would be able to tell if it had been disturbed. None could really answer. In this case we were seeing a lack of knowledge of the resources by these rangers due to direction from supervisors for them to stay out of the area. What was behind this fence was the most significant archaeological site in the park, but no one seemed to know much about it.
Criminals interested in cashing in on park resources go to the locations where they will be most successful. Whether it is where the wildlife feeds, specific plants grow, or where historic military troops specifically tread. These types of criminals know their subjects and do research and monitoring of their own. Park Ranger's need to be educated and be able to predict locations where such activities will occur. They must also be able to identify the sometimes subtle damage to resources from any source, including criminals. This education must continue throughout a ranger's career. No matter what type of National Park Service area they work in, rangers must continuously educate themselves about resources in their charge.
This education does not always need to be formal training. Spending time with the resource, seeking out past research papers, reading books, and in many cases the best education can come from spending time with other rangers, partners, and neighbors familiar with the park and surrounding area.
Ask Questions, Listen, and Learn Something New Every Day -

Book Now Available in Lexington at The Bookery

The book, A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks, is now available for purchase in Lexington, Virginia at The Bookery on Nelson Street.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So You Want To Be A Park Ranger

One of the questions that I was asked quite frequently during my career and even today is, "How do I get a job as a park ranger?" Working for a large bureaucracy you can imagine that this might not be the easiest question to answer. Each ranger you talk to will likely have a bit different story of how they got their first jobs. The system and procedures have changed quite a few times over the years, but here are some of the common denominators for those who are seriously interested:

Most full time park rangers started their careers working in temporary seasonal positions.
These jobs run for periods of three to six months and do not include any benefits such as
health and life insurance or retirement. There is also no guarentee of employment beyond the
period hired for.

The basic requirement for a park ranger job in any discipline is a four year college degree. Many rangers started out working in temporary seasonal positions while in college. There are no specific degree requirements. I worked with park rangers with degrees in history, biology, parks and recreation management, nuclear physics, Russian studies, education, business, criminal justice, English and more. Several Universities have programs specifically designed to prepare a student to become a park ranger.

The advantages of working a temporary seasonal position are that you get to learn if this is the career for you, you have the opportunity to develop skills and abilities to aid in obtaining a full
time job, and you have the chance to show your stuff and establish a solid work reputation.

To find these jobs you need to become familiar with the Office Of Personnel Management
(OPM) website. All positions are announced nationwide at OPM's USAJobs website
( Specific application instructions can be found for each position listed at this site.

Permanent full time positions can also be found at this same site. To apply for these jobs the
position needs to be open to the general public or all sources. Otherwise only those
person who already have federal hiring status can apply. That translates to people who
are already in permanent positions with the federal government.

Applicants who have experience working in parks as temporary seasonal employees have
a great advantage in the hiring process since they have direct experience to site and
are often known entities to the agency.

Remember the National Park Service is a small agency with large responsibilities. A weak employee can not be easily absorbed into the organization without causing disruption to the accomplishment of its mission. That is why a person whose abilities and attitudes have been tested through previous employment will stand out on a list of applicants.

So no matter what your level of education or experience in other jobs, you will greatly increase your opportunity for starting a career by considering those temporary seasonal positions first.

If you are interested in park ranger jobs in protection or law enforcement, there are colleges and universities approved by the National Park Service to train and certify candidates for temporary seasonal positions in that field. For a list of schools and details about these types of positions, you can go to

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Park Ranger's Life Now Available at Books and Company In Lexington, Virginia

There it was. That book with the bright blue cover in the window. The first time I have ever seen my book, A Park Ranger's Life:Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks, on display in a book store. My emotions were running in almost opposite directions. There was the thrill of seeing this multi year project come to fruition and the trepidation of seeing my name out there for all to express their opinions on. Overall, the emotion of excitement won out.
Books and Company in Lexington, Virginia now has my book in stock and available for sale. I will be at that location on Friday November 27th for a book signing event. I have started to make contacts at other locations in Charlottesville, Wintergreen, Waynesboro, and Charlottesville, Virginia to carry the book in stores.
For those of you not near any of these locations, the book is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books a For book sellers and libraries the book is available at Ingram Books.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Snakes and Crime

In the news this morning there was a case where deputies near Kansas City served warrants at a rural farm that was described as the "Home Depot of stolen property," Property recovered included light farm equipment, vehicles, and six full railroad cars. One railroad container was filled with unopened new appliances.

A residence at the scene was also searched and deputies found a python snake running loose in the home.

The is reminiscent of the story of the Snakeman in my book A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks. In that case we were serving search and arrest warrants at a residence where our suspect allowed a five foot boa constrictor free reign of the house even though he as his wife had a new born baby.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Signing and Availability

I have confirmed arrangements for a book signing at the Books and Company book store at 20 West Nelson Street in Lexington, Virginia. If you are in the area stop in on November 27th between 1pm and 4pm.

The book is also available for purchase at:

For book sellers and libraries, the book can be ordered through Ingram Books.