I Am a Park Ranger

Tomorrow a House Republicans will have the opportunity to question National Park Service chief Jonathan Jarvis for his handling of a situation that Republicans themselves caused. I trust that Jarvis will stand up for his agency during those few moments where he is allowed to get a word in over the grandstanding and deflection that will most assuredly be on full display.

If mistakes were made than so be it. No doubt the Park Service will examine their policies and try to improve their management during these times of crisis, but I refuse to join the outpouring of vitriol that continues to be directed at some of the most dedicated and passionate federal employees that we have. Update: A few more thoughts to consider.

US Park Rangers Lodge Issues Statement

Yesterday the United States Park Rangers Lodge issued the following statement yesterday on its Facebook Page re: National Park closures. Those of you who are feeling inconvenienced by these closures and have chosen to take out your anger on people who are trying to do their jobs should read it. Continue reading “US Park Rangers Lodge Issues Statement”

Instead of Demonizing the National Park Service

National Park ServiceHere’s the thing. When the federal shutdown is over National Park Service employees will greet the large number of Americans who return to their sites regardless of whether their visitors blamed them for the closings or called for people to violate the barricades. All will get the same friendly welcome and will be able to take advantage of the NPS’s deep pool of talent and commitment to protecting our nation’s most important landscapes and material items. In the end, my friends in the National Park Service want nothing more than to return to the work they love. Continue reading “Instead of Demonizing the National Park Service”

ALERT: The National Parks Are Closed

For those of you who are looking for reasonable answers to some very straightforward questions click here. And while you are at it, here is a thoughtful post about how we should think about federal employees. It turns out they really aren’t the enemy.

National Park ServiceThere appears to be no let up in the wild reports of abuse of innocent Americans who want nothing more than to enjoy our beautiful National Parks. A report which appeared in a Newburyport newspaper takes the cake. A group of senior citizens found themselves in Yellowstone National Park on October 1 and according to Pat Vaillancourt, at one point, under “armed guard.” You can read more of the story. Vaillancourt’s account of the group’s ordeal .

“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm.

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos. “She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

And finally.

“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”

First, what was this tour doing in Yellowstone to begin with on October 1? It’s not like the federal shutdown happened without any warning. It was widely reported that in the event of a shutdown the National Parks would be closed. Why is no one inquiring into the organization and management of this tour?

It is unfortunate that tourists are being inconvenienced and in a number of cases made to feel uncomfortable, but no one seems to understand what closed means. How about looking at this from the perspective of the few NPS employees who have been left to manage very large sites such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Consider all of the potential problems apart from those caused by stranded visitors and those who have taken it upon themselves to cross barricades. They have been placed in a very difficult position so if you happen to find yourself on federal property that has been closed don’t expect to receive the same warm welcome as if it is business as usual. CLOSED MEANS CLOSED.