Ranger Shortage

My first job out of college (if you don’t count being a ski photographer at Squaw Valley for a winter), was working
for the Department of the Interior in DC. The crappy part of this job was that the DOI is an awful, lumbering
bureaucracy where it is very hard to get things done. The great part was that I often got to travel to the country’s
national parks which are the jewels in our crown, so to speak (the Park Service is part of
Interior). I saw Yellowstone, the Smokies,
Mount Rushmore (I even go to dance a jig on Lincoln’s head, something
very few people get to do), and more. One of the problems even back then was that the NPS staff always felt kind of
neglected. They were poorly paid and in some cases poorly treated.

Well, it seems things haven’t changed that much. According to
this piece in the LA Times, ranger
ranks are shrinking. We’ve added some new parks, but we’ve cut back on our rangers. So when the writer, for example,
head to Yosemite, she finds no one there to explain why Half Dome looks the way it does (it’s magic, lady! The mountain
elves did it with a really big saw!). Anyway, we need to think hard as a nation about how to protect our parks, and how
to make sure that the dedicated people who work for them (and for us) can get properly compensated and treated for
their fine work.