Friday, June 25, 2010
|2010 Raphine, Virginia Telephone Book|
Thursday, June 24, 2010
|Rangers salute Joe Kolodski and his sacrifice at the site of his murder, Big Witch Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway NPS photo.|
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks
Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America's National Parks
Biking the Arizona Trail: The Complete Guide to Day-Riding and Thru-Biking
Biking the Grand Canyon Area
Bytnar's chilling story about the haunted colonial mansion was alone worth the price of admission. But, as readers of A Park Ranger's Life will discover, historic haints and wayward bears addicted to Kentucky Fried Chicken are the least of a park ranger's worries.
In Bytnar's book, A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty-Two Years of Protecting Our National Parks, the veteran ranger tells the real story behind what it is like to patrol the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile long park through some of the best scenery the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina have to offer.
At times Mr. Bytnar's misadventures with wily fugitives, inept sheriffs, and park managers who make rattlesnakes seem cuddly are hilarious for us to read. Although these events must have seemed less funny at the time Bytnar was experiencing them. "Living in a national park is not the ideal situation that most people envision," the veteran park ranger tells us. "You end up living with your job 24 hours a day."
With his modest and articulate voice, Bytnar epitomizes what we would like our park rangers to be. Sturdy, good-humored, and fearless, he is a real-life Dudley Do-right who adores his family and pays for the apple coveted by a hungry but penniless boy inside a country store. But even for the likes of Bytnar something has to give.
For more about Bytnar and his book, A Park Ranger's Life, here's a story that appeared in National Parks Traveler (an excellent webzine on National Parks).
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Park rangers kill 2 Congo soldiers over dead
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Notable amongst the presenters was the renowned landscape architect Carlton Abbott. Mr. Abbott’s father was Stanley Abbott one of the initial designers and first Superintendent of The Blue Ridge Parkway. Carlton Abbott is an award winning architect and land planner recognized for his talent as an artist through his pen and ink architectural drawings. The audience was captivated by Mr. Abbott’s stories of his father and growing up with the Blue Ridge Parkway in its early days.
I was pleased that one of my books was purchased by Carlton Abbott to add to his personal collection. I also got an inside scoop that he is working on his own book about the Blue Ridge Parkway that will feature many of his incredible drawings. I plan to add that book to my collection when it is published.
Shown in the Photo Above Doris Broker from the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Carlton Abbott, and Bruce Bytnar at the Nelson Loop and Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary Event at Skylark Farms
Interesting Blue Ridge Parkway Facts gleaned from the presentations:
10% of all the bridges in National Park Service areas are on the Blue Ridge Parkway
37% of all the tunnels in National Park Service areas are on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Crime does exist in our National Parks. Criminals and those who can be provoked into criminal acts visit parks just like anyone else. Even gang members have been known to take vacations and have meetings in National Parks. The crime rate in National Parks is not any higher or more violent than the areas that surround them. Some parks are near or within easy driving distances of heavy crime urban areas. One such area is Lake Mead which is near Las Vegas, Nevada. What happens in Vegas does not always stay there as their ads claim. At times it starts there and ends up at Lake Mead.
When a violent crime occurs in one of our parks, we take it personally. Some liken it to having a crime committed in their own back yard. Visitors often have an inflated sense of protection and safety while traveling in National Parks. There are not enough park rangers out there to ensure complete protection for each of the more than 275 million people who flock to our parks each year.
Many visitors who travel to National Parks come with a naive sense of safety thinking they have left crime and other dangers completely behind. The result is that they do not take the precautions that they may take at home to protect their families and themselves. They forget simple practices such as keeping the family together, locking vehicle doors, not leaving valuables visible, and listening to their own inner conscience when a situation does not look right to them. Cues that may spell danger to a person at home are ignored and disregarded while visiting a National Park.
In his book "The Gift Of Fear," Gavin DeBecker eloquently describes how to perfect and listen to your inner voice in recognizing threats that can be applied at home and while traveling. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to improve their ability to protect themselves and their families.
Other visitors do not take into account that they are entering a natural and uncontrolled environment. They come with a mindset that no matter what they do; how lost they get, how over their head they get climbing a mountain, a park ranger will come and rescue them. Caution is thrown to the wind to get that adrenalin or testosterone thrill and bragging rights.
A point was made recently by one of the pro-firearms bloggers that I have to agree with in concept. Ultimately each individual is responsible for their own safety. There will never be enough National Park Rangers and other staff to be there for you every minute of your visit. Personal awareness, good decision making, listening to your conscience, avoiding possibly dangerous situations, and common sense may prove to be a much better way to protect yourself than relying on a firearm to get you out of a situation.
All that said, National Parks are no more dangerous than any other vacation spot in this country. Being fully prepared for your visit can ensure a fun, educational, and safe memory.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Here is what a few readers have said about "A Park Ranger's Life;"
"Anyone who loves National Parks would love this book."
"I could hardly put the book down, good pace and chapter length."
"Excellent examples, great stories, and life lasting experiences...."
"Highly suggested to anyone with a passion for the outdoors."
"...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."
"Recommended book for all ages."
"This book is awesome. I have already read it all and enjoyed it thoroughly."
"If you ever wanted to be a park ranger this is a must read for you."
"This was very entertaining, honest and gives the average person a very readable book on just what a ranger faces everyday."
"Bruce Bytnar's book is a masterpiece of behind-the-scenes life in the National Park Service."
The University of Ohio, Slippery Rock University, and Northern Arizona University have all made "A Park Ranger's Life" required reading for those studying resource protection and working toward a career as a National Park Ranger.
For ordering information, look to the right hand column of this blog.
SOUTHEAST ARIZONA GROUP
NPS Ranger Assists BLM Rangers In Shooting Incident
A supervisory ranger from the Southeast Arizona Group provided backup for BLM rangers who’d been shot at near Fort Bowie NHS on the afternoon of June 7th. Two BLM rangers took high-power rifle fire while in their vehicles, but were able to return fire at their assailant’s vehicle. He then fled and was believed to have barricaded himself in his residence. The NPS ranger was among the first on scene, and, with others, set up a perimeter and controlled access to the area. Law enforcement officers and agents from the Border Patrol, FBI, Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (including their SWAT team) and others also responded. A woman inside the house fired on the SWAT team members, but surrendered after OC and CS gases were employed. The house was searched, but the man was not found and is still at large.
Ranger Confidential offers a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a ranger in America's national parks.
Retired Park Ranger/Writer's Perspective
Pros: Easy to read
Describe Yourself: Professional/Guide
Even though I spent more than 32 years as a National Park Ranger and lived many experiences similar to those depicted in Ranger Confidential, I found the book exciting and riveting. Andrea Lankford is a gifted writer and story teller who passes on experiences she lived first hand in some of our most popular and risk filled parks. The risks portrayed in this book are taken by park visitors and result in the danger and stress placed on park rangers attempting to protect them from the park, themselves, and other human predators.
I remember hearing of many of the adventures in this book in National Park Service Morning Reports and at ranger training courses and meetings. Ms. Lankford relates the inside back-story of these incidents in an accurate and colorful way. I found the book hard to put down.
The book honestly reflects the emotional and physical consequences of being a National Park Ranger. Although I was not there hanging off Half Dome or the edge of the Grand Canyon with these rangers, this book stirred many of the same emotions, frustrations, and challenges I faced in my career.
I highly recommend Park Ranger Confidential to anyone interested in our National Parks or what it takes to be a National Park Ranger in a major park today.
Bruce W. Bytnar, Author of A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks
Monday, June 7, 2010
A couple were arrested Saturday after a man reportedly pepper-sprayed a National Park Service ranger at Johnson Beach on Perdido Key.
The man, David Watkins, 39, of Pace, is charged with aggravated battery on an officer. His wife, Janna Simon, 41, address unavailable, is charged with battery on an officer and resisting an officer with violence, Dane Tantay, Florida district ranger for the Park Service said.
The couple are being held in Escambia County Jail. Watkins was being held on $50,000 bond. Simon was being held on $5,000 bond. A court date is set for June 25.
Here is what park rangers say happened:
At about 1:30 p.m., a female ranger approached Simon near Pavilion H at Johnson Beach and began to write her a ticket for having a dog on the beach. The National Park Service would not release the ranger's name.
"We don't allow dogs in Escambia or Santa Rosa County," Tantay said. "Gulf Islands National Seashore follows suit."
The ranger also began questioning Simon about an open container of alcohol in her hand, Tantay said.
That's when Watkins allegedly pepper-sprayed the ranger, who drew her gun.
"When an officer is under that kind of duress and gets pepper-sprayed by an individual, they have the authority to protect themselves and others," Tantay said.
However, witnesses said the ranger pulled her gun right after she ticketed the couple for having an animal on the beach.
Witness Tricia Simon, Janna Simon's sister, also said she thought the ranger was reaching for a Taser stun gun to shock the couple's dog, Abbey. Tricia Simon said the dog had approached the ranger in a friendly, nonthreatening manner.
The investigation is ongoing, Tantay said.
Tantay said bringing pets onto the National Seashore's beaches is a petty misdemeanor.
Violators face up to $85 in fines.
"It's a huge problem," he said. "Especially this time of year. We have our shore bird-nesting season. Dogs can be detrimental to the birds."
Tantay said pets are allowed in parking lots, but only if they are leashed. And they cannot be left in vehicles unattended.
During the war 25,000 CO’s served in non-combat roles in all branches of the military. Some worked in understaffed mental institutions. Other volunteered to be subjects for medical experiments on hunger. Another 20,000 fought forest fires and worked on conservation projects in rural areas through the Civilian Public Service agency. This later group was placed in camps which had been previously used by the Civilian Conservation Corps that was disbanded in 1942 as most of the 18 to 24 year old men in that program were taken into the military.
The CCC participants were unskilled labor recruited from areas with low employment due to The Depression. The Conscientious Objectors were made up of men who were from a variety of backgrounds including successful farmers, craftsmen, and intellectuals. CO’s came with a variety of skills that were put to work on many rural improvement and park projects.
One CO Camp was located at Sherando Lake in Virginia. This was a former CCC Camp on US Forest Service property. Out of this camp men worked on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the area of Humpback Rocks on trails and construction of stone walls such as those found at the Humpback Rocks Parking Area (MP 6) and Reeds Gap (MP 13). The military started to accumulate prisoners of war from mainly naval engagements. They needed facilities to accommodate these growing populations and consequently the Sherando Camp was transferred to the military and the CO’s moved to Camp #121 in Bedford, Virginia. There the men began work in the Peaks of Otter area of the Parkway. Once again they constructed trails placing stone steps and what were called fire lanes to help contain forest fires. Stone work was also done on walls and around buildings. Today if you visit the Peaks of Otter Nature Center you will walk on a stone patio that goes across the front of the building, through the breezeway, and to the rear of the building where you will find picnic tables. At the front of the building there is a flat stone with the letters “CO” carved. This is one of the few signs left by this group of men who served their country in an alternative way during World War II.
Thanks to Dave Benavitch, USFS Ret. who first told me the story of the CO’ of WWII
Photos From Wikipedia
Friday, June 4, 2010
The event will include a picnic, music, and presentations by Landscape Architect Carlton Abbott and National Park Officials. There will also be vendors including the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I will be on hand with my book, "A Park Ranger's Life," to answer questions and sign and personalize your copy.
The event is sponsored by Oakland Museum, Friends of Blue Ridge Parkway,Washington & Lee University and Rockfish Valley Foundation.
For more information go to:
Submitted by Benjamin Lord (not verified) on June 1, 2010 - 1:08pm.
Bruce Bytnar's book is a masterpiece of behind-the-scenes life in the National Park Service. He has written a fun and compelling work that best reveals a perspectice from the field. I bought the book on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed his experience and commentary. If I ran a park area I would insist every park employee read this book. His discussion of "government fads" whether it be cars or policies is worth every penny in cost to purchase.
However, I would also say that park management deserves a right to explain their side of this fascinating story, and that the Blue ridge PKWY itself is one of the most complicated managment units in the national park system itself.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Here are a few tips that will help you understand the dynamics of deer movement and how to avoid collisions that can cause serious property damage and at times personal injuries.
• Deer are most active at dawn and dusk. This is when they like to feed so you are most likely to see deer on road shoulders.
• Remember that deer can also be encountered any other time of day.
• Drive the speed limit or below when in areas frequented by deer. This applies to most park areas.
• Be alert scanning tree lines and road shoulders for deer including the reflection from their eyes at night.
• Once you see deer or the reflection of eyes, slow down, and stay alert for movement.
• If you see deer running across the road in front of your vehicle, do not follow where they are going with your eyes. Instead look to where the deer came from. Deer do not travel alone and more deer may come from the same direction.
• At times deer will run down the road in front of your vehicle in a zig-zag pattern. Drivers are often confused by this behavior. Their natural instincts are kicking in and this is how they attempt to escape a predator. If you stop your vehicle, they will finally run off the road.
• Should a deer jump into the road in front of you, hit your brakes and stay in your lane. More extensive damage and more serious injuries can result from swerving to avoid the deer and striking a tree, rock, or oncoming vehicle.
• You will see devices sold that you can place on your vehicle that make whistling sounds to scare deer away. It was my experience that these do not guarantee safety and I saw many vehicles with this equipment in place still have collisions with deer.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
You can access the full article at the link below:
Andrea is also the author of several books about our National Parks. Her most recent publication is the book "Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks." I highly recommend this honest and heartfelt study of the work done by park rangers and the price it extracts from these dedicated protectors of our National Parks. Even though I lived many experiences similar to those illustrated in her book, I found it hard to put down and it produced many hard to explain or ignore emotions. I highly recommend this book which you can find available on Amazon.com.
I have to admit that this place also holds important personal significance to me since I started my career as a park ranger here in 1975 and met my future bride while working there.
During our two hour visit I witnessed a number of people experiencing the park in their own personal way.
As visitors were asked to help raise the flag, there was a small child that crawled under the reproduction of the 30 by 42 foot banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the battle of 1814. She sat there basking in the red, white, and blue tinted sunshine that flowed through the modern nylon flag. You could see the joy on her face and not help but know that this would be a memory that could last a lifetime.
Then there was the small group of visitors on one of the walls listening to a park ranger dressed as a soldier of 1814 telling of the impending approach of the British fleet. I could see in the eyes of the audience as at least some were being transported back to that time as they looked out across Baltimore Harbor.
Inside one of the original buildings of the Fort is an exhibit on many of the military residents that occupied this army post from 1776 to 1946. A young African-American couple was standing in front of an exhibit about an ex-slave who served as a soldier at Fort McHenry during the early days and growing pains of our country. I could tell by the way they were reading the narrative of the exhibit to each other that they were finding it fascinating and illuminating forming a personal link to their heritage.
If you have not taken the time lately, you need to visit a National Park Service area near you. I guarantee that you will come back with memories that will help carry you above the fray of everyday life.
Two backpackers, a man and woman, encountered a grizzly bear last Friday evening while hiking in the dense brush along the edge of Tattler Creek, which is at the west end of Igloo Canyon, approximately 35 miles from park headquarters. The man, who was in the lead, drew a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol when they heard a noise coming from the brush. When the bear emerged from the thicket and ran toward the other hiker, he fired approximately nine rounds in its general direction. The bear stopped, turned, and walked back into the brush, where it quickly disappeared from view. The backpackers ran and hiked approximately a mile and a half back to the road, where they encountered a National Park Service employee who called in the incident to the park’s communication center and transported them to the Toklat Road Camp. A ranger there did a short preliminary interview with them around 10 p.m. Because of the concern that a wounded bear was in the area, four backcountry units were immediately closed and bus drivers were instructed to not drop off day hikers in Igloo Canyon on Saturday. Early Saturday morning, rangers and wildlife technicians flew to Toklat via helicopter to conduct a secondary interview with the two backpackers. Afterwards they flew over Tattler Creek and all of side tributaries, very low at times, to determine if there was an active, wounded bear. No bears were seen during the overflight. Late in the afternoon, three rangers hiked into the site and found the bear dead in a willow thicket approximately 100 feet from the pistol casings. The bear’s body was transported via helicopter to a landing site on the park road and brought back to headquarters on Sunday, where park wildlife biologists are assisting with the investigation of the bear carcass. The backcountry units have been reopened. The case is still under investigation, and the names of the backpackers are not being released at this time. Park wildlife biologists and rangers are trying to determine if there was a justification for shooting the animal. It is legal to carry a firearm in the former Mt. McKinley National Park portion of the park, but it is not legal to discharge it. This is the first known instance of a grizzly bear being shot by a visitor in the wilderness portion of the park. The estimated grizzly bear population in the park north of the Alaska Range north is 300 to 350 animals.