Ranger Kathryn's Arches

October 15, 2013

Anonymous rangers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 6:43 am
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Arches National Park, "The Three Gossips"

Arches National Park, “The Three Gossips”

I’m imagining, with a smile, what would happen if we sat all our legislators down with tea and scones while they watched this three-and-a-half minute video. Go get your cup of something hot and click on this link:

Anonymous rangers

October 4, 2013

The park is eerily quiet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:31 am
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Would you like to be greeted by this sight as you enter a national park?

Would you like to be greeted by this sight as you enter a national park? It’s what the entrance to Canyonlands looks like.

Birds, cottontails, lizards — the regular cast of characters inhabits Canyonlands National Park this morning. What is missing, however, are human sounds. Normally I hear the distant hum of traffic entering before sunrise to catch the famous photo at Mesa Arch, but today… nothing. No tires on our pavement, no feet on our trails. Absolutely silent.

“That’s the way a wilderness park should be,” some may say. NO. These national treasures, these places of wonder, belong to the American people and this particular one has welcomed people for 49 years. Keeping travelers out of them is morally wrong. We’re punishing innocent people over political ideologies.

We park rangers don't know what to do with ourselves during a shutdown. We're not even allowed to hike in our own park.

We park rangers don’t know what to do with ourselves during a shutdown. We’re not even allowed to hike in our own park.

It’s not about my unpaid furlough; that may sting, but I’ll manage. Visitors have planned for months, have come from around the country and around the world to see our national parks, and they encounter barricades, gates, locked visitor centers. This land is called “public” for a reason, and refusing access is senseless.

Tuesday at 8 a.m. sharp, seven staff members gathered to close down the park. It was a somber morning of changing the message on our phones, filling out our payroll online, notifying campground occupants that they would need to leave, laminating and putting up sad signs, cleaning out the refrigerator, emptying all safes, making final deposits.

C’mon, Congress. Lay down your differences. There is no excuse for this.

February 28, 2012

Fresh faces, fresh ideas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 5:06 pm
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From my front door: Sun bursts through at day's end after snowstorm. Unretouched colors. Four vehicles in ranger housing means people are coming back!

It’s that magical time of year when new seasonal staff arrive at parks around here. After the halcyon days of winter, where the few remaining rangers begin to be able to finish one another’s sentences or (heaven forbid) think one another’s thoughts, the influx of new blood is welcomed. They bring with them new ideas, new perspectives, new ways of seeing the too-familiar. Even if it’s only directions to find our bathrooms outside, it’s refreshing.

This winter I was delegated the responsibility to interview and hire our three student interns supplied by the Student Conservation Association. My boss did the same for the seasonal park rangers. Together we tried to select people we thought would not only do a good job, but would adapt well to an isolated living/working situation and who would complement the mix of staff already here. With a clan as small as ours, it takes only one bad apple to make things miserable for us all; we ask candidates lots of questions to try to get a whole picture of who they are and how they’ll fit.

And now they’re here. It looks to be a particularly engaging, intelligent, passionate, well-fitting group with lots of energy. My next use of the word “halcyon” to describe our days here may be nine months hence…

September 14, 2010

But park rangers ARE superheroes!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:57 am
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Cereal Man and Purple Rain (two of my fellow rangers). Good superheroes craft their own costumes from paperboard, fabric, ice-climbing shoes and thrift-shop unitards.

Living up at the Island in the Sky (Canyonlands NP), isolated from the Real World, park rangers must create their own entertainment. Birthdays are often used as an excuse to invent a good party theme. For Ranger Bobby’s 29th, various and sundry superheroes showed up at his apartment to celebrate.

Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (aka Sharon, law enforcement)

You can see why I thoroughly enjoyed living here for ten weeks, and delight in going back to work twice a week this fall. It’s a fun-loving, creative, wacky bunch of intelligent and interesting people that keep this park going — for visitors and for each other.

Green Lantern and his faithful sidekick (aka Mike and Maile Dog)

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