National Park Service rangers are among the uniformed employees charged with protecting and preserving areas set aside in the National Park System by the United States Congress and the President of the United States. While all employees of the agency contribute to the National Park Service mission of preserving unimpaired the natural and cultural resources set aside by the American people for future generations, the term "park ranger" is traditionally used to describe all National Park Service employees who wear the uniform. Broadly speaking, all National Park Service rangers promote stewardship of the resources in their care—either voluntary stewardship via resource interpretation, or compliance with statute or regulation through law enforcement. These comprise the two main disciplines of the ranger profession in the National Park Service.
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The term "ranger" is from a Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400. "Rangers" patrolled royal forests and parks to prevent "poachers" from hunting game claimed by the nobility. 80,000 acres (320 km2) in the park. The name was taken from Rogers' Rangers, a small force famous for their woodcraft that fought in the area during the French and Indian War beginning in 1755. The term was then adopted by the National Park Service.Use of the term "ranger" dates to the 17th century in the United States, and was drawn from the word "range" (to travel over a large area). The title "ranger" in the modern sense was first applied to a reorganization of the fire warden force in the Adirondack Park, after fires burned
The first Director of the National Park Service, Stephen T. Mather, reflected upon the early park rangers in the US National Parks as follows:
They are a fine, earnest, intelligent, and public-spirited body of men, these rangers. Though small in number, their influence is large. Many and long are the duties heaped upon their shoulders. If a trail is to be blazed, it is "send a ranger." If an animal is floundering in the snow, a ranger is sent to pull him out; if a bear is in the hotel, if a fire threatens a forest, if someone is to be saved, it is "send a ranger." If a Dude wants to know the why, if a Sagebrusher is puzzled about a road, it is "ask the ranger." Everything the ranger knows, he will tell you, ex-cept about himself.
Horace Albright, second director of the National Park Service, called Harry Yount, gamekeeper of Yellowstone National Park, the "father of the ranger service, as well as the first national park ranger".Yount was hired in 1880 to enforce the prohibition on hunting in the park. In addition to these duties, he would act as a guide and escort for visiting officials, such as he did in 1880 for the Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz. Although he was paid a yearly salary of $1,000 (out of the park's overall $15,000 yearly budget) he resigned at the end of 1881. Before leaving, he suggested to the superintendent of Yellowstone that "...the game and natural curiosities of the park be protected by officers stationed at different points of the park with authority to enforce observance of laws of the park maintenance and trails." Yount pointed out that it was nearly impossible for one person to protect the game properly over the park's vast expanse.
The park ranger position in the federal government began as a series of specialized positions in the miscellaneous series. In 1959, the official park ranger position (GS-0025 Park Ranger) was established throughout the federal government.along with its companion series the park technician (GS-0026). The park ranger position was designated for "professional" work like management of the park (park ranger (manager)-park ranger (site manager)), or management of division (chief ranger, chief of interpretation). The park technician series was designed to handle routine technical skills, i.e., giving walks, talks, patrolling roads, fee collection.
After years of concern of pay, the National Park Service and the Office of Personnel Management agreed to consolidate the two series into a single group, to be used only for professional positions and temporary or seasonal positions. The agreement also required that the park service begin using other appropriate technical series for lower paid positions. [ original research? ]The protection ranger series was changed to "GL"-0025 in 2005.
The duties of the modern park ranger are as varied and diverse as the parks where they serve, and in recent years have become more highly specialized – though they often intertwine. Regardless of the regular duties of any one discipline, the goal of all rangers remains to protect the park resources for future generations and to protect park visitors. This goal is accomplished by the professionalism and sometimes overlapping of the different functions and specialties. For example, an interpretive ranger may be trained in and perform fire suppression, emergency medicine, or search and rescue. Law enforcement rangers and other park employees may contribute to the mission of the interpretive ranger by helping park visitors make a personal connection to park resources, and appropriately utilize facilities. The spirit of teamwork in accomplishing the mission of stewardship is underscored by the fact that in many cases, the U.S. National Park Service in particular, park rangers share a common uniform regardless of work assignment.
The oldest source of information on park ranger careers was the 1956 Park Ranger by C. B. Colby. At that time, park rangers fulfilled all the demands of park operations from administrative duties to technical rescue. By 1995, Exploring Careers in the National Parks by Bob Gartner, reflected the specialization of duties and the expansion of titles covering the same work as was being done in 1956. In the 21st century, Live the Adventure, showed the park ranger profession was only becoming more complex.
The federal Office of Personnel Management sums up the diversity of the official park ranger series of professional white-collar occupational groups as follows:
This series covers positions the duties of which are to supervise, manage, and/or perform work in the conservation and use of Federal park resources. This involves functions such as park conservation; natural, historical, and cultural resource management; and the development and operation of interpretive and recreational programs for the benefit of the visiting public. Duties characteristically include assignments such as: forest and structural fire control; protection of property from natural or visitor related depredation; dissemination to visitors of general, historical, or scientific information; folk-art and craft demonstration; control of traffic and visitor use of facilities; enforcement of laws and regulations; investigation of violations, complaints, trespass/encroachment, and accidents; search and rescue missions; and management activities related to resources such as wildlife, lakeshores, seashores, forests, historic buildings, battlefields, archeological properties, and recreation areas.
By the 1970s the National Park Service recognized that in order to protect visitors and park resources effectively the service needed professional rangers dedicated primarily to law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighting, and search and rescue. Although some modern NPS rangers in this specialty ("protection rangers") may be primarily engaged in law enforcement duties, the many varied environments they work in may require these employees to be competent in a variety of public safety skills. Rangers who have received a law enforcement commission wear the standard NPS uniform with the Department of the Interior law enforcement badge. In larger park units search and rescue, emergency medicine, and other functions may be a branch of the "visitor services" or "protection" division and may not require a commission.
The United States Office of Personnel Management provides the following guidance concerning education requirements for all park rangers:
Undergraduate and Graduate Education: Major study -- natural resource management, natural sciences, earth sciences, history, archeology, anthropology, park and recreation management, law enforcement/police science, social sciences, museum sciences, business administration, public administration, behavioral sciences, sociology, or other closely related subjects pertinent to the management and protection of natural and cultural resources. Course work in fields other than those specified may be accepted if it clearly provides applicants with the background of knowledge and skills necessary for successful job performance in the position to be filled.
Specialized experience may be substituted for education in some cases.
In addition to traditional undergraduate and graduate coursework, the following specialized study pertain to the park ranger profession:
In the last decades of the 20th century the field of resource interpretation began to consciously professionalize itself. This has resulted in the early 21st century with colleges and universities offering coursework and degrees in interpretation.
A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of 'wild nature' for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres (780,000 km2) of land. Major divisions of the agency include the Chief's Office, National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, Business Operations, and Research and Development. The agency manages about 25% of federal lands and is the only major national land management agency not part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.
The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the federal government of the United States that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. The United States Congress created the agency on August 25, 1916 through the National Park Service Organic Act.
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. The concepts of stewardship can be applied to the environment and nature, economics, health, property, information, theology, cultural resources etc.
A ranger, park ranger, park warden, or forest ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks.
Heritage interpretation refers to all the ways in which information is communicated to visitors to an educational, natural or recreational site, such as a museum, park or science centre. More specifically it is the communication of information about, or the explanation of, the nature, origin, and purpose of historical, natural, or cultural resources, objects, sites and phenomena using personal or non-personal methods. Some international authorities in museology prefer the term mediation for the same concept, following usage in other European languages.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) preserves a series of sites between Atlanta and Lake Sidney Lanier along the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, U.S. The 48-mile (77 km) stretch of the river affords public recreation opportunities and access to historic sites. The National Recreation Area, a National Park Service unit, was established on August 15, 1978, by President Jimmy Carter.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is the agency of the U.S. state of Minnesota charged with conserving and managing the state's natural resources. The agency maintains areas such as state parks, state forests, recreational trails, and recreation areas as well as managing minerals, wildlife, and forestry throughout the state. The agency is divided into six divisions - Ecological & Water Resources, Enforcement, Fish & Wildlife, Forestry, Lands & Minerals, and Parks & Trails.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is an agency of the state of Wisconsin charged with conserving and managing Wisconsin's natural resources. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has the authority to set policy for the WDNR. The WDNR is led by the Secretary, who is appointed by the Governor of Wisconsin. The WDNR develops regulations and guidance in accordance with laws passed by the Wisconsin Legislature. It administers wildlife, fish, forests, endangered resources, air, water, waste, and other issues related to natural resources. The central office of the WDNR is located in downtown Madison, near the state capitol.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the agency of the state of Michigan charged with maintaining natural resources such as state parks, state forests, and recreation areas. It is governed by a director appointed by the Governor and accepted by the Natural Resources Commission. Currently the Director is Daniel Eichinger. The DNR has about 1,400 permanent employees, and over 1,600 seasonal employees.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), established on July 1, 1995, is the agency in the U.S. State of Pennsylvania responsible for maintaining and preserving the state's 121 state parks and 20 state forests; providing information on the state's natural resources; and working with communities to benefit local recreation and natural areas. The agency has its headquarters in the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is a part of the Hawaiʻi state government dedicated to managing, administering, and exercising control over public lands, water resources and streams, ocean waters, coastal areas, minerals, and other natural resources of the State of Hawaiʻi. The mission of the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources is to "enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaiʻi's unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawaiʻi nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors." The organization oversees over 1.3 million acres of land, beaches, and coastal waters and 750 miles of coastal land.
A conservation officer is a law enforcement officer who protects wildlife and the environment. A conservation officer may also be referred to as an environmental technician or technologist, game warden, forest ranger, gamekeeper, investigator, wilderness officer, wildlife officer, or wildlife trooper. In Canada, all of these fall under the rubric of National Occupational Classification code 2224.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is the state agency responsible for the conservation and management of Alabama's natural resources including state parks, state lands, wildlife and aquatic resources. ADCNR also issues hunting and fishing licenses for the state. The department promotes wise stewardship and enjoyment of the state's natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Supporting those divisions are seven support sections: Accounting, Diversity and Recruiting, Engineering, Information and Education, Information Technology, Legal, and Personnel and Payroll.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a government agency in the state of Maryland charged with maintaining natural resources including state parks, public lands, state forests, state waterways, wildlife and recreation areas. Its headquarters are in Annapolis.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is the law enforcement arm of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Natural Resources Police Officers patrol state-owned lands and enforce conservation and boating laws as well as Maryland's Criminal Law and Transportation Article. NRP is also the primary law enforcement agency on the waterways of Maryland and is the primary response agency for all homeland security threats on Maryland waterways.
The National Park Service underwent an intensive review of its responsibilities and prospects for the future during its 75th anniversary celebration in 1991. It culminated its efforts in October 1991 with a symposium in Vail, Colo. that including several hundred participants from both within and outside the NPS. The gathering, the Oct. 10, 1991 session of which was officially a public meeting advertised in the Federal Register of Sept. 19, 1991, resulted in six strategic objectives and the identification of a variety of issues and recommendations, which were published in a book titled National Parks for the 21st Century: The Vail Agenda. Although the meeting took place during the administration of Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan and NPS Director James Ridenour, with the book itself published under the leadership of Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Director Roger Kennedy, who wrote the foreword and preface, the Vail agenda and vision remains today as a directional tool for the NPS.
The U.S. National Park Service has a long history of specialized training needs. One of the service's earliest training programs was Ranger Skills, a nine-week course held at the Grand Canyon. Over the years, the variety of skills has increased and the bureau has created training centers to meet those needs.
California State Park Peace Officers (S.P.P.O.) are fully sworn California State Police Officers, with two sub-classifications, the Ranger and the Lifeguard. S.P.P.O.s often use the title of State Police Officer during enforcement contact, as many Park Rangers and Lifeguards within municipalities, counties and special districts are armed Peace Officers, with authority throughout the state, on and off duty, like the California State Park Peace Officers law enforcement officer. State Park Peace Officers perform a wide variety of general law-enforcement activities, including complex criminal investigations, traffic enforcement, and participate in statewide task forces, for gang suspension, narcotics enforcement, auto theft, and fish and wildlife crimes, under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Parks and Recreation in the state parks of California, United States. Duties include general law enforcement, aquatic rescue, search and rescue, emergency medical response, interpretation of natural, historic and cultural resources, resource protection, park management and proactive enforcement patrol. The current sidearm of the California State Park Peace Officer is the Smith & Wesson M&P, the current patrol rifle is the Colt AR-15 Model LE6920, and the current patrol shotgun is the venerable Remington Model 870 Police Magnum.
National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers or United States Park Rangers are uniformed federal law enforcement officers with broad authority to enforce federal and state laws within National Park Service sites. The National Park Service commonly refers to law enforcement operations in the agency as Visitor and Resource Protection. In units of the National Park System, law enforcement rangers are the primary police agency. The National Park Service also employs special agents who conduct more complex criminal investigations. Rangers and agents receive extensive police training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and annual in-service and regular firearms training. The United States Park Police shares jurisdiction with law enforcement rangers in all National Park Service units, although this agency primarily operates in the Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco areas.