Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 8, 2011

‘Sprinkles’ is free!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:55 pm
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I knew it was going to be a Wildlife Home Run day when it started with a Midget Faded Rattlesnake frightening visitors at the outhouse by Devils Garden. Law enforcement had no option but to catch it in a 5-gallon bucket and relocate it, but not before stirring up a lot of commotion.

Then a park ranger came upon a dad with a butterfly net dropping a just-caught lizard into his daughter’s terrarium which she was excitedly holding for him. The ranger’s “What just happened here?” turned into a sullen grudging release of the lizard by dad and a teachable moment for the little girl when the ranger helped her cipher what would happen if every visitor took a lizard. No law enforcement ranger was available, so no ticket was given. The dad was very lucky.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard -- freed!

Next, a visitor brought a camera into the Visitor Center, with a photo of a pick-up truck with California plates and a cooler in the back. The truck owner had caught a lizard and put dirt and lizard into the cooler. By now we were pretty upset at the utter disregard for wildlife, and the photo was blown up, printed out, and law enforcement sent out to find (and ticket) the person.

Half hour later, our man found the truck and looked into the cooler in the back. My second-favorite lizard of all time was in there. The owner pleaded ignorance of the law (that one works real well, doesn’t it?) and his wife started saying “Robert, I TOLD you not to catch that reptile! Now look what you’ve done!”etc etc… so our law enforcement guy backed off of the $500 fine for harassing wildlife and instead gave him a $125 fine for some lesser infraction. To him, the wife’s ill will was a steep price to pay. He made the man let the lizard go, at which moment his children all waved and shouted, “Goodbye, Sprinkles!” thus confirming that he was capturing the reptile for a pet. I wanted the $500 fine to stand.

People. Really. Don’t be so outrageous.

September 28, 2010

Fiery Furnace fall fuels full-on (f)rescue

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:10 am
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Wheeling the litter along the rock ledges

I was in the Visitor Center when a radio transmission came in from the head law enforcement ranger. She needed helpers on a litter carry-out from the Fiery Furnace, where a portly 66-year-old man had injured his ankle while on the ranger tour. In the maze-like Furnace, the more helpers the merrier; it’s rough, difficult, challenging terrain that often requires lowering of a litter via ropes over edges. It’s also a labyrinth in which people get lost.

Fitting fifteen people and a litter through a narrow crack in the sandstone is tricky

The litter isn’t more than two feet wide at the shoulders, but the patient was located in the most distant area of the route and we’d have to squeeze through several cracks in the Entrada sandstone fins in order to get to him and carry him out. Not overly difficult with a light empty litter; another story entirely with an aging uncomfortable injured man on board.

Fifteen (15) park workers took part in this rescue. It took a few hours. The patient wasn’t hurt badly but he could not walk. In thin or bouldery places we had to pass the litter forward with carriers peeling off the back and scurrying to the front to receive the next hand-off. This was not easy. Nor was it easy to carry him through places which had 5-inch widths for feet and about 18 at shoulder height.

The Furnace is a place of extreme handsomeness

My mind flashed back fifteen months to my very first day ever in uniform at Arches, when a man fell from Turret Arch and needed a helicopter to pick him up and take him to Colorado to repair his broken femur. Sunday’s incident was my last day at Arches 2010 — a fitting bookend to my first rescue event.

The injured man will remember this day long after his sprained ankle is healed. For us rangers it was just another day on the job. Part of the (unwritten) Ranger Code includes always being ready to help when needed, and I am glad I was able to be part of a resourceful team that solved problems handily. My uniform sure needs a washing, however, and my boots some more polish…

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