A US National Park Ranger Tells All

Memorial Day is fast approaching, kicking off the beginning of the busiest time for America’s national parks – the summer season. Budget Travel has just published some confessions from a national park ranger (stationed at the Grand Canyon, judging from his anecdotes). Think Americans are the most reverent about our national treasures? Think again. It’s more likely to be a foreigner who knows better than to ask where the bridge across the Grand Canyon is, or be genuinely interested in the history behind the parks. But if you show some real interest and respect, a park ranger is likely to help make your experience in the park even more memorable.

If you’re headed to a park this summer, you may want to check out the Park Advocate, the official blog of the National Parks Conservation Association. They post helpful tools for hikers, interesting lesser-known stories about the parks and other multimedia and news for visitors.

Read the full confessions at BudgetTravel.com.

[Photo courtesy Grand Canyon NPS‘ Flickr photostream.]

National Park Service to help create standards to protect parks globally

The U.S. National Park Service has joined forces with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to develop a set of standards for park rangers, managers, and other administrative officials working in national parks around the globe. According to a press release from the NPS, the plan is to create a set of guidelines to aid nations in effectively managing their protected areas, while still recognizing that those efforts often take place under very challenging circumstances.

This new partnership will begin with David Reynolds, a 33-year veteran of the Park Service, creating a set of professional standards for men and women working on conservation projects in a wide variety of environments around the world. The hope is to build a “globally recognized” set of qualifications in the area of environmental management that will help them to be more efficient in their jobs. The project is expected to take approximately 40 months to complete and will require visits to protected parks and training centers around the globe.

Reynolds knows that he has a huge challenge ahead of him. He says that he not only has to create effective tools for measuring results, but must do so within the tight budgetary constraints that most countries face. He also knows that he’ll have to walk a thin line between creating a program that is both effective in the field and flexible in the classroom.

If the project is successful, park rangers and managers around the world may have a well designed set of guidelines that will help them protect their national parks in a more effective and efficient way. Climate change, urban development, deforestation, and other threats continue to be an issue, but perhaps with proper training and planning, some of those threats can be countered in a productive way.

Motorist survives 200-foot plunge into the Grand Canyon

Earlier this week a 21-year old man drove his car off the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, surviving a 200-foot fall with only minor injuries. He then freed himself from his vehicle and climbed back up the canyon wall looking for help. He was discovered alongside the road by another traveler, who immediately called the Park Service.

Park Rangers are still investigating exactly what happened, and until that investigation is complete, they aren’t releasing the name of the young man, who was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. The man claims that he drove off the rim purely on accident, and it doesn’t appear that alcohol played a role in the incident either.

As of now, his car remains stuck in a tree, 200 feet below the South Rim, while the Park Service determines how best to retrieve it from its resting spot. The vehicle came to a stop when it hit a pine tree, ten feet shy of another major precipice.

To say that his man is lucky to be alive is an understatement. The South Rim is, at points, more than 5000 feet above the canyon floor, so to only have fallen 200 feet, and to walk away without any real injuries, is a bit of a miracle. The Grand Canyon is truly one of the most spectacular natural wonders that you could ever hope to see. Perhaps he was a bit distracted by all that splendor.

This is also another reason why you should leave your car behind when visiting national parks!

[Photo credit: The National Park Service]