National Park Service Protection Ranger Duties

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SCPD

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DUTIES:

Under the guidance and direct supervision of Yellowstone's Chief Park Ranger, this position serves as one of two Deputy Chief Rangers for operations of the Division of Resource and Visitor Protection in Yellowstone National Park. The incumbent is responsible for ensuring that trained and qualified personnel are available to respond to and/or manage all routine and emergency incidents and operations throughout the park. The incumbent may be directly responsible for a broad range of complex, controversial, routine, and emergency activities including but are not limited to: law enforcement; emergency medical services; visitor services; fee collection; campground operations; commercial use licenses, special use permits, and limited concessions permits; wildland and structural fire; search and rescue; resource management and protection; public safety; oversight of all public recreation and special event activities; and the review, promulgation, and implementation of park regulations. Incumbent serves command and general staff positions on the more complex incidents that arise in law enforcement, search and rescue, resource management, and fire operations. The employee personally performs all of the emergency service functions above, as necessary. The incumbent serves as the principal advisor to the Chief Ranger and/or Superintendent on all aspects of Ranger Activities and Resource Protection. Incumbent ensures that all supervisory and personnel management responsibilities are carried out. The incumbent prepares recommendations for planning, programming, and distribution of the division’s budget as well as reviews the execution of the division budget throughout the fiscal year. Call-outs as well as evening and weekend work can be expected.

Physical Demands
Duties and responsibilities require long work days and extensive travel by all modes of transportation. The incumbent should be in excellent physical and mental condition with considerable stamina in order to react to frequent emergencies and law enforcement situations that arise. This position comes under the scope and requirements of the park's and the NPS’ mandatory Health and Fitness Program and Medical Standards Program.

Work Environment:

The incumbent works in a northern mountainous park with temperature ranging from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer to -50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. Snow depths during the winter may vary from two to eight feet. Elevation ranges from 5100 feet to 11,000 feet. The emotional environment is most commonly one of high stress and impeding unknowns.

I ran across this today and it is a very good read on the challenges and responsibilities NPS protection rangers face. I know of no positions anywhere that have the wide scope and life and death responsibilities that NPS rangers have. This position description should result in an understanding of this. Note the list of tasks this and other protection ranger positions include. This position is a fairly high ranking position within the Division of Resource and Visitor Protection at Yellowstone National Park. One would think that a deputy chief ranger would no longer have a role in the field or on the ground and that is largely true for this position, however, note that the incumbent of this position requires knowledge and current certification for all the listed tasks with occasional performance of these tasks on the ground, as well as serving as an incident commander for these types of incidents.

Park Service rangers have an expression to describe the incidents they may handle in a day. There are five primary tasks on the list for protection rangers: law enforcement, EMS, search and rescue, wildland fire and structural fire. Three of the five in one day indicates they earned the triple crown. I've known and worked with some rangers that performed four of the tasks in one day. I've talked with two rangers that had significant incidents involving all five tasks. One ranger related to me that a former co-worker of his had transferred to another park unit and had all five occur in one day, with his last incident being an officer involved (himself) shooting. Fortunately this incident did not involve a suspect fatality or significant wound for the ranger involved other than some flying glass lacerations. After five tasks with a shooting at the end of the day, this ranger ended up with about a 28 hour shift. This was related to me in 1987 when I was on a 145,000 acre fire adjacent to and within Yosemite National Park, so I may not have all the of details correct.

While metro P.D. officers face considerably more danger performing their law enforcement tasks, at least on average, due to having fewer serious and violent crime NPS protection. In spite of that National Park protection rangers, game wardens/conservation officers (title depends on the state), BLM rangers and Forest Service law enforcement officers as a group (the thin green line) have a higher assault rate and face more danger than a metro officer. I would place remote, sparsely populated rural county sheriff's deputies no too far behind. Why? The work alone, backup is routinely 30 minutes away or in some cases 1-2 hours (not as much for the deputies) and the number of people carrying guns and other weapons is higher in rural/remote areas.

Combine that with having to know and maintain the qualifications for a law enforcement officer, EMT or EMT Paramedic, firefighter and perform high angle rescues is incredible. High angle rescue may involve such places as El Capitan, Half Dome (Yosemite) or the incredibly radical slot canyons in the northern Arizona/southern Utah "slickrock" country. Also include search and rescues (SAR) on Mt. Rainier and McKinley and maybe you are starting to get my point. In the Grand Canyon SAR's include slickrock slot canyons, a river with world class rapids and remote river miles with short haul helicopter operations. The latter is when a person harnesses up to a relatively short rope hooked up to the underside of the helo and flown to the rescue site. I can partially relate to what the rush of doing this and being suspended under the ship when flying over the rim as I was passenger and observer 2-3 times in a helo and small, high wing airplane when the aircraft flow over the south rim. The immensity of the terrain and the steepness of the upper portion of the canyon walls puts your heart up in your throat."

At this point I've deleted the rest of the original post. I got into the old "rangers, foresters, the land management professionals are not recognized, appreciated, known for what they do" crap, wah, wah, wah, wah wah, thing. In my book that dubious honor belongs to teachers more than just about anyone else.
 
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Squad10

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Good read.

Back in the eighties I conversed with an individual who had recently transferred from Yosemite NPS ranger to ATF SA, San Francisco Field Division.

Every time I hear fictional character Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard say "I'm tired. I'm beat up", I think of what that individual related to me about their Yosemite POD experience.

I also think about me sitting on the edge of overhanging rock at Glacier Point in 1975, and who would have recovered my body had I slipped and fell to the valley floor.
 

SCPD

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Good read.

Back in the eighties I conversed with an individual who had recently transferred from Yosemite NPS ranger to ATF SA, San Francisco Field Division.

Every time I hear fictional character Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard say "I'm tired. I'm beat up", I think of what that individual related to me about their Yosemite POD experience.

I also think about me sitting on the edge of overhanging rock at Glacier Point in 1975, and who would have recovered my body had I slipped and fell to the valley floor.
The abbreviation monster has struck again. What does POD stand for?

I reread my final sentence and hope that no one misunderstands what I said about teachers. The sentence could be interpreted to say that teachers are under recognized and are whining and crying. What I meant was teachers are more unrecognized and under appreciated than almost any profession. They contribute more to this country and are more valuable than the sum of several pro sports stars that each make more money in a year than a teacher makes in an entire career.
 
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drdispatch

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Wow. Never really thought about that until now.
Our DNR guys used to relate stories about working in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) & trying to explain to a guy why shooting that deer was wrong because it's not the right time of year, & all he knows is that with no job & no income, that deer is what's going to feed his family; he's got a shotgun or a rifle, you've got your trusty (back in the day) 6-shooter, & your back up is coming from an hour away in Ishpeming (I just like that name of that town...).
 

JamesPrine

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"I know of no positions anywhere that have the wide scope and life and death responsibilities that NPS rangers have."

Sell that one to the combat infantrymen in Afghanistan right now, particularly the SEALs and Army Special Forces boys... <g>
 

Squad10

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This is the Federal Monitoring Forum, the Military Monitoring Forum is 2 down.
 

JamesPrine

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Squad10, thanks for the directions. But I replied specifically to a post in THIS forum, to wit: "I know of no positions anywhere that have the wide scope and life and death responsibilities that NPS rangers have."

I thought that was ludicrous and had to respond.

Besides, last time I checked, the people I was referring to *are* Federal <g>.
 

SCPD

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POD = Post of Duty
I was a federal employee for my entire professional career and worked with the National Park Service for 18 years. I worked on two National Forests that boardered Yosemite National Park and while working on my last ranger district a small National Monument, Devils Postpile, was surrounded by the ranger district I worked on. I worked in 3 of the 9 U.S. Forest Service regions. In that time I never ran across the term "post of duty." The term used federal government wide (civilian) is "duty location" or "duty station." I've never heard anyone, internally, use the abbreviation "DL" or "DS." As employees of the Forest Service and National Park Service and numerous other federal agencies know, they cannot use agency and professional abbreviations or lingo when talking with the public. It is difficult to connect with the public and lingo and abbreviations build walls instead of bridges. I worked in the recreation management function of the Forest Service and public information with the components of education, engineering, enforcement and interpretation (brochures, maps, signs, campfire talks, ranger hikes and auditorium presentations) is something I planned, did myself. I'm very qualified for the task of public communications. I have the experience to know what works and what doesn't.

Abbreviations cause confusion when their use is limited to a particular agency, company or profession. I don't know which of these use "POD." In fact I've never run across it and I'm in my 60's, have worked with dozens of diverse companies, government agencies and organizations. I love researching the lingo, language and terms of every organization I come across. I'm more aware than the average individual of what and how, abbreviations and lingo are used. In spite of that I could not figure out "POD." It was a tiny bit of a stretch to understand "ATF SA," but I have enough background as a federal employee to confidently say it stands for "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Special Agent." Most scanner hobbyists know what "ATF" means, but fewer know what "SA" stands for.

It is particularly difficult to read a message from, or talk to military friends as they use more abbreviations than one person can tolerate. "I TDYed to AAC and the CO said it is great that you were an A&P as I need you to work on our HAS as we often are tasked with HE environments." For some reason they think I can understand them or just don't think about what I can understand. I don't understand people who use abbreviations when they are talking to someone outside of the professions the abbreviations are used in.

This is the case with the abbreviations you used here. I'm not judging or negatively criticizing you, nor picking on you. There are thousands of people on this website that use abbreviations that are not widely understood I have brought up this issue in many forums in the last 6 months. The use of abbreviations is increasing by a large number of people and it isn't facilitating the exchange of information. Abbreviations not commonly used or known cause confusion and most folks will just ignore them as it is a real pain to Google them or ask the author what they are saying. The author might as well be using nouns or expressions from foreign languages and it is obvious that won't work for a wide audience.

Yes, abbreviations are a foreign language. Sometimes their use is OK in the case of well known ones or well known words from a foreign language such as "mi case, su casa." The same is true for abbreviations as some are very common, examples being "PD," "FD," "VHF" and "ASAP." If someone doesn't know them it is easy to use a search engine. In contrast entering "POD" results in many different results and definition, not the least of which is for the band "Payable on Death." In the first 10 pages of hits the closest hit I got was the "Pacific Ocean Division" of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE for those in the know).

The proper way to use abbreviations is to write something similar to "POD (post of duty)" or "Post of Duty (POD). Once it is defined the first time the writer is then free to use the abbreviation throughout the rest of the document. This protocol is easily found in scientific literature, journalism and professionally written materials used to communicate with or educate a wide audience.

Yes, I am on a soapbox. What I'm trying to do is suggest that people make sure their writing is understandable and any use of abbreviations and lingo is understandable by a wide audience that includes people from all backgrounds, experience and jobs. Not doing this leads to confusion, beginners who give up on the hobby because they don' understand what is being discussed, and people who don't get the information they want.

By the way, who uses the abbreviation "POD?"
 
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SCPD

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"I know of no positions anywhere that have the wide scope and life and death responsibilities that NPS rangers have."

Sell that one to the combat infantrymen in Afghanistan right now, particularly the SEALs and Army Special Forces boys... <g>
I meant to say "I know of no civilian positions anywhere that . . . . " I can't compare civilian positions with military positions as I don't have any military experience other than administering the memorandum of agreement for a large military training facility (45,000 acres) on National Forest land for 5 years and supervising a Fort Lewis Army platoon for five weeks at Yellowstone National Park during the large fires there in 1988.

As I wrote my original post I was thinking civilian, not military positions and thought I had made the distinction, but did not.

I welcome the opportunity for someone on this website to inform me of the diversity of qualifications needed for positions in the military. Certainly many positions in the military have an equal responsibility for live and death, many that far exceed any civilian position. A CAG (commander, air group) on an aircraft carrier comes to mind, as do many other positions on what military members call a "flattop", if they still do.

If I offended anyone by failing to make the distinction I had intended to make in my original post, I apologize.
 

tinslep

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I had an unfortunate situation in a National Park involving a death where I had to deal directly with NPS Rangers, Supervisors and the Park Superintendent. I cannot say enough about how professional and compassionate these people are. They even gave me a copy of the ranger recordings before and during the event, which I know they did not have to. I didn't even realize that once they are dispatched they started recording the radio traffic and their discussions on route and during the call. I can't believe how much they have to deal with on a daily basis, especially in this time of low budgets and overall craziness in the world. I agree with the OP that these positions have to deal with so much, probably much more the we can imagine, and you have to be a special kind of person to do this kind of work.
 

SCPD

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I had an unfortunate situation in a National Park involving a death where I had to deal directly with NPS Rangers, Supervisors and the Park Superintendent. I cannot say enough about how professional and compassionate these people are. They even gave me a copy of the ranger recordings before and during the event, which I know they did not have to. I didn't even realize that once they are dispatched they started recording the radio traffic and their discussions on route and during the call. I can't believe how much they have to deal with on a daily basis, especially in this time of low budgets and overall craziness in the world. I agree with the OP that these positions have to deal with so much, probably much more the we can imagine, and you have to be a special kind of person to do this kind of work.
I'm sorry to hear that you had to learn this during adverse conditions for you. Do you mind telling me what National Park this occurred at?
 

tinslep

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Sorry, I said national park and meant monument. It was Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction and it was a family member suicide that happened in 2011. I do understand that they hope to become a national park soon.
 
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DaveNF2G

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Surely you didn't think you could post a brag like that one without some blowback. :)
 

k7ng

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Flattop?

When I was in the Navy (and I was on an aircraft carrier for part of that period), carriers were universally called 'bird farms'. There were other more 'colorful' names but they maybe shouldn't be mentioned. Submariners called them 'targets'. My father was an airedale in WWII and they did call carriers 'flattops' then, don't know when the change came.
 

SCPD

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Sorry, I said national park and meant monument. It was Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction and it was a family member suicide that happened in 2011. I do understand that they hope to become a national park soon.
I visited that monument in 1976. My wife and I passed through it to some private land on the west side. A classmate of mine from the Northern Arizona University School of Forestry was marrying a woman whose parents owned a large ranch. Their home was incredible and the wedding occurred outside in an outstanding environment. We stayed an extra night so we could have most of a day to visit the monument.

I'm very happy to hear how you were treated. I was first on scene on two suicides. The second one involved a "be on the lookout" that had been issued a few days prior. The man's brother had found his brother's van. I stayed with the brother for several hours until the body was removed. I hope that being there and using the best empathy I could muster made a small difference for him. I must say it wasn't easy to be with him and I could have left after the S.O. and Forest Service law enforcement offices arrived. I figured he needed someone to sit with him and communicate gently what the plan was for that night.

I worked as a first responder and initial investigator on some accidents where the family was present. I always tried to handle the situation as gently and empathically as I could. I would expect the same if I were in that situation. People who work in recreation management for the USFS and BLM generally got in the job because they want to help people. Rangers in the NPS are, as a group, the best employees in regard to this of the federal land management agency group. I looked for opportunities to make a difference when they were presented to me. I changed tires, pulled people out of mud and snow, removed tire chains that broke and wrapped themselves around the axle, got people back on their route when they made a wrong turn in remote areas, got their engines running after coolant hoses burst, found lost children, found lost dogs, scared bears out of campgrounds, delivered some tough messages to people (prior to widespread cell phone use) and helped obviously harried people erect complicated tents. I was never happier on the job when I was doing things for people. The satisfaction and reward are the best you get on the job.
 

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For what it's worth, I have found this attitude with CA State Park rangers as well. They have a tough job (although typically are not as remote as USFS or NPS) and they do it well. I worked with State Parks a lot during my public safety career, and they were always fantastic folks who cared about people, the environment and nature.
 

SCPD

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For what it's worth, I have found this attitude with CA State Park rangers as well. They have a tough job (although typically are not as remote as USFS or NPS) and they do it well. I worked with State Parks a lot during my public safety career, and they were always fantastic folks who cared about people, the environment and nature.
Thanks for mentioning them. Along with DFW wardens, state park rangers rank up there. I've known several of them over my years in the eastern Sierra. My first wife was a park aid at Bodie and I stayed there overnight many times. I also skied in and stayed with the 3 permanent families during the winter. Bodie is quite cold and not given credit for its remoteness and weather. The state park website has a "factoid" page and names San Jacinto as the coldest state park. Bodie surpasses it. I've written the webmaster regarding this error, but I don't think it was corrected.

In California park rangers have to work the southern California coastal parks when they start their careers. It is a right of passage. There are many state beaches in Orange County and when rangers talk of their early career they use the same expression, "yup, I was an Orange County beach cop in the 80's.

California has one of the most unusual and valuable pieces of property for any public entity in the U.S. Hearst Castle has artifacts that cost huge amounts of money to maintain. In the early 80's the rangers at Bodie told me that the cost of cleaning one of the huge wall hung tapestries in the home was a little more than the annual budget for Bodie. There are three shifts of rangers regularly scheduled there year long. The latter half of the swing shift and all of the graveyard shift several, not so friendly, Dobermans are let loose on the grounds. In spite of the expenses to run Hearst Castle it ran at a profit through the 70's, 80's and 90's. I haven't looked at the figures through the 2000's to see if this is still true, but it is still the park that brings in the most revenue and is way ahead of the number two park. We are reaping the rewards of the number of bond measure passed 1960-1990 to buy land for state parks and beaches. There are some parks that had to be closed due to state budget problems. An initiative was on the ballot several years ago that proposed a fee for vehicle registration of about $25 annually that would have funded the system to the point the deferred maintenance would be addressed. It made a great deal of sense and I would have gladly paid it. The majority of the state's voters thought otherwise. The state park system of California is fantastic and preserves much of the state's history, environment and beaches. When I was in college in the 70's the California State Park system and the Department of Parks and Recreation was known to be the best state park system in the nation. That was the consensus of the profession according to my professors.

This says a great deal as I've been to state parks in other states. The state parks in Illinois were very impressive to me. I spent some time in a visitor center there and was very impressed with their interpretive displays. New York claims the largest state park with 6 million acres in Adirondack State Park. That has to be listed with and asterisk, however, as most of the land is private and under some zoning restrictions to maintain the setting that the area has had for a couple of centuries. It is 6 million acres in size, but only 2.6 million of that is owned by the state. It is also very valuable watershed land. The next largest state park, Anza-Borrego in southern California checks in at 615,000 acres.

The U.S. has the best system of public lands in the world. The U.S. consistently runs a trade surplus in tourism. The foreign visitors are drawn to our public lands and some Europeans, I could almost say most or all, understand and appreciate our public lands more than the average U.S, citizen. The Germans started the trend of making Death Valley National Park a year round park back in the early 80's. They purposely planned to be there in the summer in order to experience the area the same way the Death Valley party did in the 1800's. I had always assumed that their loop trips from Phoenix, to the Grand Canyon, a night or two in Las Vegas, on to Death Valley, up the eastern Sierra, though Yosemite, to San Francisco, down the California Coast to L.A., which had to be done in the summer, was the only time they could visit Death Valley. They all told me no, it was on purpose.

Our public lands not only facilitate a trade surplus, they contribute far more money to the economy than many people realize. Both the National Parks and National Forests each contribute about $130 billion annually. The budget of both agencies is less than 5% of that total for both agencies. In college a number of us in the School of Forestry had bumper stickers that read "Ladies, do your part to support public lands, kiss a forester today!"
 
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Squad10

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By the way, who uses the abbreviation "POD?"
During the eighties and nineties, POD was commonly used by federal law enforcement employees during general conversation and in context of employee transfer to another (new) POD. Most often the POD location transfer was within the same agency of employment irregardless if Continental U.S. (CONUS) or Outside Continental U.S. (OCONUS).

Year 2011 use of “Post of Duty” that pertains to federal law enforcement:
https://federalsoup.federaldaily.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=39060&title=post-of-duty
 

SCPD

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During the eighties and nineties, POD was commonly used by federal law enforcement employees during general conversation and in context of employee transfer to another (new) POD. Most often the POD location transfer was within the same agency of employment irregardless if Continental U.S. (CONUS) or Outside Continental U.S. (OCONUS).

Year 2011 use of &#8220;Post of Duty&#8221; that pertains to federal law enforcement:
https://federalsoup.federaldaily.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=39060&title=post-of-duty
I was a federal employee for both of those decades and I never heard or saw POD once. Usually terminology crosses agency boundaries and gets picked up by all agencies, at least unofficially. The best example is the military term "TDY." If a person is actually working a job somewhere else, bridging the gap between one employee and another, generally line officer type jobs, they get a temporary promotion. That is called a "detail" and it is a federal government Office of Personnel Management formal term. If someone like a law enforcement officer or a fire unit is sent for mutual aid or fire extremity pre-positioning some people would use the term "TDY."
 
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