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View Diary: Anonymous Park Rangers Speak Up (114 comments)

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    This is our home -- it's where we’ve raised our family and like other national parks we’ve worked in it's a place we've worked hard to help people understand, enjoy, and feel some ownership of. So it's very hard to make efforts to keep people out when our whole lives we've worked hard to get people in.

    Canyonlands is deathly quiet. I took a hike on a popular trail and saw only coyote prints. Wildlife is the ruling life form here for the first time in ages.

    Yosemite valley is quiet except for the wind. The white noise of visitors has been ratcheted down to whisper. I feel sad that this beauty can't work its sorcery on those who don't call Yosemite home.

    I feel the pain of visitors who planned for years to make this trip. Finding your parks barricaded is an in-your-face image that's difficult to erase.

    Visitors have removed park closure signs, damaged deadbolts beyond repair and driven around locked gates, crushing native vegetation and fragile desert soils.

    But imagining damage to precious and irreplaceable resources breaks my heart.

    I am a Ranger.

    I'm a maintenance crew leader.

    I am a park historian.

    I am a sworn federal law enforcement officer.  

    I am a park ranger.

    On any given day I might have to respond to a heart attack victim, put at a burning motorhome, search for a lost hiker in the backcountry, arrest drunk drivers, fight a wild land fire, or put down an injured animal.

    We're here to help you forge connections with these stunning places.

    We do it because we believe in something, something higher than ourselves.

    Today however I derive no satisfaction from my job.

    Rather than sharing in discovery and wonder, I am burdened with the onerous task of barring visitors from their National Park. This is not what I signed up for.

    Even before the government shutdown, the parks were chronically underfunded and understaffed. What are we teaching our children when these sacred places can be considered collateral damage?

    I long for people to discover their role as stewards of this wilderness. That and only that will carry over into the next generation.

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