We have been recently treated to the Congressman who told a Park Ranger in DC that she should be ashamed of herself. (Because of the government shutdown he and his party had worked so hard to bring down upon us all!)
She did not have the liberty to mouth off at his small-minded, mean-spirited willful ignorance. The National Parks Conservation Association has just released a video which shares the words of Park Rangers. Turns out their thoughts have much more to offer than that elected nitwit know-nothing Randy Neugebauer from Texas.
Text to describe the post, which just went up this afternoon. It only had 27 views when I discovered it - it deserves many more:
For nearly 100 years, national park rangers have dedicated their lives to protecting America's most precious places and the millions of people within their boundaries. But when Congress closed the national parks, angry visitors criticized the Park Service for keeping people out. As federal employees, park rangers can't share their personal views publicly. So we offered anonymity in return for their testimonies. This is what they wrote.
Transcript below the squiggle.
Automatically generated: Incomplete and imperfect. Better to run the video and listen. The NPCA has some
lovely awesome pictures to go along with, too.
UPDATE: h/t to lisapaloma, who's provided a clean transcript of the rangers' words:
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.