Park Rangers: then and now

Michael Jamison has an excellent, very well-written article in the Missoulian, describing the job of a Park Ranger at Glacier National Park and how it has changed — and not changed — over the last 105 years. It is worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

…The biggest change, Johnson said, is with new recruits. Young ranger-hopefuls raised in town on video games want to be cops, he said, not woodsmen and cowboys.

“What we’re losing is the jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none,” Johnson said. “And that’s too bad, because that’s always been the best part of the job.”

Well, almost the best part. There’s also the wilderness lake shimmering golden with pine pollen, the sunsets and meteor showers and the barred owl’s hoot just outside the cabin door, the wild edge of keeping the very same office Liebig kept.

Ober, like many of the seasonal rangers, doesn’t even know exactly how much he makes on the job – “but you can’t ask for a better way to spend a summer.”

Longtime seasonal employee Pat Hagan, who has led more tourists on more nature walks than he’d care to count, still shows up eager for the next.

“Mountains, waterfalls, flowers, wolves and grizzlies all right there in your office,” Hagan wrote. “The nearest wall is a glacial arête, and windows seem to open directly onto opportunity.”

It’s Liebig’s opportunity, and Moses’, too, 100 years now of
stiff-brimmed exploits among the peaks.

“There’s really nothing like skiing through here in the winter, or rowing a boat on the North Fork and thinking, ‘Hey, I’m getting paid today,’ ” Blickhan said.

“On those days, especially, it’s the best job in the world.”

Thanks Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “Park Rangers: then and now”

  1. Much like the old time cowboy the old time ranger is all but gone from the NPS. When I when out the door a few years ago the Chief Ranger, a nunber of years younger said,”You and Tom were the last of the old breed and now your kind are gone forever”

    Never paid much but it was one hell of a adventerous ride.

    Now let me tell you the story of the pack string that went rodeo and bucked off it’s load going up the Lawn Lake Trail…

  2. Very good and how true ! Reminds me of my first NPS job in Yosemite so long ago.


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