Friday, November 25, 2016

Post Election Thoughts

Election 2016 - Some Thoughts

Following every election of a new administration there is a sense of trepidation of the unknown. The election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States has brought forth a stream of mixed and swirling emotions. Living in a strongly Republican area of the country I am hearing a lot of enthusiasm for the change that we will be seeing in Washington and in national policy. Personally I have found this state of affairs overwhelming and stressful since I have a variety of concerns and yes, I have to admit fears of what these changes may mean for the core values of the United States that I grew up in.

There is a lot of rhetoric being presented about racism, religious intolerance, voting rights, and other serious issues. One topic that is getting limited press coverage, and I admit falls lower on the survival scale of other topics, is the fate of our nation’s public lands and the agencies and people dedicated to their protection. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Park Ranger's Life; Required Reading In University English Class

Today I will be speaking with the Non Fiction Writing class at Washington and Lee University. This is the second year they have used my book, A Park Ranger's Life, as required reading for this course.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Park Ranger Secrets

A new article is out in Readers Digest on line outlining 32 secrets for park visitors from park rangers.

Fellow ex park ranger/author Andy Lankford (Park Ranger Confidential) and myself were both interviewed by Michele Crouch for this article. You will find us mentioned at the end in the credits.

Readers Digest Park Ranger Secrets

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A question I received as to why I was interested in being a National Park Ranger.

Being in the outdoors has always been my passion whether it was playing as child or camping and backpacking when I got older.  This was combined with my family visiting National Parks and seeing park rangers with their flat hats being the gods of the wilderness and masters of historic information.  At a very early age when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was always a park ranger.
Sixteen years ago I completed a research project for a thesis on recruiting for National Park Seasonal positions.  One of my discoveries was that most employees working that summer had visited National Parks as a child therefore establishing that awe and inspiration at an early age. This confirmed my own experience.

As most people I had a lot of misconceptions of what it would be like to work as a park ranger.  I had visions of being in the woods all day, leading tours, working with wildlife, etc.  What I found was that there was so much more to it.  So much so, that I wrote a book about that very topic.   A lot more detail on this answer can be found in the book.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

College Student Questions

I just received some questions from a student at George Washington University about Park Rangering.  I thought I would share my answers over a few posts.  I hope you find them of some interest.

As I read on your website, you recently gave a presentation about theft from National Parks. In your opinion, what is the biggest threats facing our national parks today? Is it sticky-fingered visitors? Underfunding? Environmental threats? 

The most serious and overwhelming threat is that to our environment. What affects our world directly impacts the resources in our parks. Global warming, air quality, habitat reduction around out parks’ borders are very real and immediate and require universal and regional solutions.

Politically our National Parks face numerous threats.  Inadequate funding not only reduces the services visitors receive, but also results in continued infrastructure and resource degradation. 

There are also threats to the concept of protected public lands due to political and special interests. There continue to be proposals by individuals, groups, and politicians to turn federally protected lands back to state and local governments. This is often mislabeled as “giving them back to the people.” I would argue that this concept would remove or reduce access to a smaller group with special interests that will make money for small parties at a sacrifice for the rest of us. Examples would include local governments wanting control of federally protected lands so they can be leased or sold for energy exploration or ranching.  Even some lands managed by the National Park Service are drawing such attention.

On the ground level in parks resources are threatened by over use, neglect, and theft or conversion for personal gain. The theft of wildlife, plants, minerals, and historic resources is increasing. Lack of funding means that there are less Park Rangers in the field to protect these resources, monitor damage, and prevent crimes against us all as owners and custodians of our National Parks.