Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bikes On The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is presently attempting to complete the six or more year process of developing a General Management Plan (GMP).  This document is essential for establishing the management direction and policy development for any National Park area.  Although the Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited unit in the National Park Service and was first established in 1936, it has never had a GMP.

This lack of a GMP has at times resulted in a publicly perceived flip flopping of management on priorities and at times a dearth of direction for supervisors in making decisions on controversial topics of civic interest.  The lack of a GMP has also hindered the Park in justifying additional funding for preservation programs and staffing.

The GMP process has been started several times during the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway only to die before it can be completed due to lack of funding and the complexity of developing a single plan that covers all the resources, communities, and special interests along a 469 mile park.  During my career I served on two GMP planning teams.  The first was part of a dying effort.  The second was the beginning of the process now coming to fruition.

When the current process started the public was asked for comments to determine their highest priority of issues facing the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The number one issue, far ahead of any other, concerned the use of bicycles on the Parkway.  This surprised park staff and planners.  What was even more surprising was that these comments were split right down the middle.  Half were in favor of cycling and the other half against even allowing bicycles in the park.  This level of interest prompted the planning team to contract with David Evans and Associates to conduct a Bicycling Feasibility study for the park.  The report examined present use patterns and looked at the practicality of infrastructure improvements to accommodate bicycles in high use areas.  The final report was very much in favor of encouraging the use of bikes in the park.

Now that the GMP is reaching its final stage of public review and comment some cyclist are reading into the plan’s reference to the park’s original enabling legislation’s wording establishing a “motor road” and predicting that bikes could be banned from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I would call this a bit reactionary and based on my experience working with management of the park I can say with certainty that there is no intent or thought to put an end to cycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway.   As a cyclist myself, I have every confidence that people will be able to enjoy bicycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway for generations to come.  After all, that is what our National Parks and the National Park Service that manages them are all about.

See what Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis had to say on this topic at:

Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young Returns to Work

Those of you who have been following this blog and the news should remember the shock when on November 19, 2010 Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young was shot three times in a gun battle that resulted when he stopped a vehicle at a trail head.  After a year of fighting against life threatening injuries Brody has been able to fight his way back and be able to return to full time work.

Congratulations go out to Brody for winning his fight and I wish him the very best in and his family's future.

Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young

Your can learn more about Brody at:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"A Park Ranger's Life" Reader Review

This reader review appeared recently at

I finished Mr. Bytnar's book a few weeks ago. I found it to be very interesting as well as educational. Being married to a man who was also 'on call', brought back some memories of how most dinners went cold waiting for him to have the time to sit down and dine with his family. I found the story about the lady who was outraged at Mr. Bytnar not being able to give her an accurate weather report at 2 a.m. in the morning quite appalling. I wish you could have named her and sent a copy of your book to her, as well as other morons who felt they had been disrespected, when they were the ones who owed you an apology. There are many more stories I chuckled at and will have your book in my library shelves for house guests to devour while staying at our lake house. I'll also recommend they buy a book for their own library! Thank you Mr. Bytnar for your sacrifices and wonderful service to our parks and to our country. (Has your wife ever forgiven you?) A reader in Franklin County, Virginia. 

Seasonal Park Ranger Application Season Opening

For those who might be interested in pursuing a life as a National Park Ranger, the time for applying for seasonal jobs this coming summer is fast upon us.  These positions are generally available from some time in this coming May and run through October.  It all depends on which park you apply to.  Anyone interested in this exciting opportunity should now be keeping a close watch for open job listings at:

Most positions will be announced in January, but it appears that some parks are getting the jump on everyone else and announcing jobs early.

So keep your options open and start updating those resumes and reading announcements to tailor your applications to what qualifications fit each job.

For more information on applying for seasonal park ranger jobs go to the search window in the right hand column and type in "jobs."  This will bring up several past blog posts that explain this application system.

Good luck.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Looking For A Christmas Present?

Looking for a great Christmas Present for that person who is planning to work as a National Park Ranger or had that dream years ago?  Or maybe a gift for someone who loves our National Parks.

A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks would make the perfect gift.

A Park Ranger's Life is now being used as required reading in universities across the country for students studying to be a park ranger.  The book has been praised as one of the best honest behind the scenes look at what it is like to work in our National Parks.

You can find A Park Ranger;s Life available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and many other online sources.    You can also find the book available for the Amazon Kindle.

Conviction for Plant Theft From the Blue Ridge Parkway

As our economy continues to struggle, pressure on the resources within our National Parks will 
Increase.  Those with the proclivity toward stepping over the line for financial gain will be tempted by the international markets for plants, animals, insects, and minerals.

As an example three men were recently convicted of stealing plants from the Blue Ridge Parkway.  
With the impending budget cuts facing our National Parks, it will become more of a challenge to  prevent, enforce, and prosecute criminals that degrade our natural and cultural heritage.

Below is taken from  the National Park Service's Morning Report.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Three Men Convicted In Separate Ginseng Poaching Cases

Three people were arrested separately in September for digging ginseng
along the parkway. On December 1st, Thomas Jones pled guilty to possessing
12 roots and was sentenced to five days in jail, Jason Hughes pled guilty
to possessing 167 roots and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, and Delmar
Hughes pled guilty to possessing 103 roots and was sentenced to 50 days in
jail. Hughes was arrested with 138 ginseng roots in his possession in 2009
by the same ranger involved in this case. He served 30 days in jail for
that offense. [Tim Francis, Pisgah District Ranger]