In my book A Park Ranger's Life I told the story of my experience with some unexplained phenomena at Hampton House in Towson, Maryland. A recent article in the Towson Patch references this adventure. Check it out at:
It is often difficult for us as Westerners to understand
Muslim law and how it works.A prime
example is now unfolding in Iran.
A park ranger who was working in the remote province of Dena
confronted five illegal poachers who had killed a protected wild goat.In the ensuing confrontation the poachers
shot at the park ranger attempting to escape.Reacting to protect himself the park ranger returned fire apparently killing
one of the poachers.This incident that occurred
in 2007 has now resulted in park ranger Asad Taghizadeh being convicted of
manslaughter and condemned to death, a sentence that is to be carried out
within two weeks.
According to the Iranian Mehr News Agency:
Following the shooting,
Taghizadeh was condemned to a retributive death sentence (Qesas), something the
family of the deceased hunter have been demanding insistently
The sentence of death has now been affirmed by the Iranian
In Iran more than one hundred park rangers have been killed
on the job in the past thirty years.Iranian park rangers are looked down on as lower members of society due
to their poor economic compensation.This contributes to their treatment by fellow Iranians and disregard for
their mission of protecting natural and cultural resources.
For more information you can go to the following links. The second includes an online petition should
you wish to take some action.
Park Rangers made another arrest of individuals steeling
native plants on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.As you read this entry from today's National
Park Service Morning Report, note that this was not the first time at least one
of these individuals has been caught thieving plants and that the other two
share additional criminal histories.
I found the connection of criminal activity between natural
resource thieves and other violations to be a common thread.Most poachers that we charged had criminal
histories ranging from attempted murder, assault, and drug trafficking, to bad
checks and fraud.In a number of instances
we uncovered evidence of these other crimes while investigating individuals for
resource law violations in the park.
Someone who is uninhibited enough to commit crimes against
others will often look to thepresumed easy dollar to be made in the illegal wildlife and plant trade.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Three Arrested For Ginseng Poaching
On the afternoon of September 29th, rangers saw a
suspicious vehicle and three individuals in an area known for ginseng
poaching.As the rangers approached,
they began throwing items into the woods and into their vehicle. Upon
investigation, the rangers found that the trio had collectively dug up 350
ginseng roots. All three were arrested and taken before the federal magistrate,
with a pending court date in December. One of them had been arrested two years
previously by one of the same rangers for the same offense. One of the others
is presently on probation and also had outstanding warrants on him. The third,
although not wanted, also had a criminal history. [Tim Francis, District
Employees in our National Parks deal with these career
criminals regularly.For me it became just
another part of a Park Ranger's Life.
I posted these tips a while back, but they still apply;
If you are planning a trip to the Southern Appalachians for the fall color season and want to stay in hotel or lodge accommodations, have reservations in advance. Many times I have seen travelers on the Blue Ridge Parkway in October thinking that they would just take a leisurely drive and find a motel room at the end of the day. In many cases they would find no room at the inn. I have seen people drive seventy five miles or more away from the park to find a vacant room.
October is the peak visitation season for this region of the country and a pretty weekend can see huge crowds in the parks.
October is also college football season. Colleges also sponsor their family and alumni weekends durng the beautiful fall weather. Such events can fill hotels for miles. You can check college web sites for their schedules. Some of the key colleges that may affect hotel availability are:
The University of Virginia Virginia Military Institute Washington and Lee University Virginia Tech Appalachian State University University of North Carolina At Asheville
Fall festivals in specific communities can be a great attraction to visit, but also fill hotels.
Traffic in prime viewing areas may also become congested which will result in slow downs and delays. So make your plans for the distances you travel are reasonable and attainable. Come the end of the day you do not want to be hundreds of miles away from your planned stop for the night.
When ever possible travel during the week. Weekends are always the peak traffic times. Hotels rooms are also more easily obtainable on weekday nights.
With the advent of compact video and audio recorders that
are now part of most cellular telephones, the public has in many cases become
news cameramen. If their film footage does not reach the level of
newsworthiness for the visual image hungry 24 hour media outlets, they can
always self-broadcast on services such as YouTube or blogs. Of course these
video clips are like the political sound bites we see every day, they
are edited and expanded on to show an often uncomplimentary or partial view.
I used to tell other Park Rangers that whenever in public
you should consider yourself to be on camera and to make decisions, act, and
talk as if you are. The intent is not to be false or less efficient but
as a reminder to always remain calm, professional, and to do the right thing.
Here are some examples of recent views of Park Rangers
placed out in cyberspace for anyone to see.....
This public fascination with video recording of Park Rangers
in the performance of their duty makes the use of In Car Video and Security Cameras by
Rangers exceptionally relevant.I
remember when we first started to purchase car camera units for field Park
Rangers on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The initial resistance to have them
installed was predictable.Once the
video recordings were applied to answering frivolous complaints and to substantiate
reasonable suspicion for stopping vehicles, the application of cameras became
part of the everyday operations of Park Rangers. It got to the point that when I received a
letter or telephone call complaint about how a person we treated by a Ranger,
all I had to do was say that I would review the video and in almost every case
the plaintiff withdrew their accusation.
The use of In Car Cameras also served as a valuable tool of self-evaluation for Park Rangers to improve on their officer safety and
information gathering skills.
So whether it is a by stander to an incident or their own
equipment, National Park Rangers are becoming screen stars.My advice is to keep this information in the
back of your mind and use that thought to your advantage remaining professional
and focused.Get used to being filmed
and do not let the presence of cameras intimidate your decision making
In the past I wrote about the implementation of the ProRanger Program. This partnership with Temple University was developed to meet the challenge to our National Parks of up to 55% of the present Park Rangers retiring over the next three to five years.
Check out this link to find out more about this program and meet two students who will be starting their careers with the National Park Service this month.
The Office Of Personnel Management has announced that they are revamping their Federal Job announcement site known as USA Jobs. In order to complete this change over the site will be closed from this coming Thursday until the following Thursday.