Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
On behalf of the first cohort with the ProRanger Program I would like to welcome the second generation. What better way to get started with the program than to build teamwork and confidence at a rappelling event at Wissahickon Valley, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. I hope that it was a fond memory that will soon be one of many within the program. Good Luck!
A special thanks to Chris, our rappel master, and his daughter for their time and willingness to help the ProRanger Program.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Outdoor Odyssey was truly an exciting, positive, and a memory building experience. Although our numbers were small, only consisting of ProRanger Layla Schade, Program Manager Don Sweet, and three additional guests, it was an amazing experience.
We started our weekend long adventure by rendezvousing at Outdoor Odyssey, located in Boswell PA, at around 1700. The drive took about four to five hours but was easily passed just by enjoying the scenic ride. Following our orientation with the Outdoor Odyssey staff we went to our cabin to get situated.
Don was ready to hit the ground running, quite literally. Layla and I prepared ourselves mentally and physically and were ready to accompany our athletically motivated instructor. We ran, ran, ran, and ran some more. Amid running down a hill we realized that, in this case, what goes down must come up; and up did we go. Although the terrain was rough and we were all nearly kissing the gravel running up the hill, the pain soon came to an end. Two of our wonderful guests were kind enough to have prepared a meal for us Olympiads; it was indeed a meal that we all enjoyed.
The night was good, to some of us, but for others, well let’s just bring cats next time. It was refreshing to wake up the next morning to the fresh mountain air, and what else to do but run with this fresh mountain air in our lungs. Instead of attacking our dreadful hill from the other day, we decided to take a different route. We started the run up hill first, the run this time felt much better. After our morning run we headed to the chow hall to grab some grub. We had a full day of challenges ahead of us and we couldn't’t wait to get started.
We had a brief AM leadership seminar provided by Outdoor Odyssey, the days itinerary consisted of that, Low Ropes Obstacle Course (LROC), Leadership Reaction Course (LRC), and finally the high ropes course.
After completing the LRC courses we were all ready to hit the high ropes.
We ended the high ropes course by taking a leap of faith. In order to get to the jump we had to climb a rope ladder that extended the entire 30 feet. Once we got to the top our next challenge was to steady ourselves on a plank that was no wider than our two feet being side-by-side. After shimmying about five feet to the ledge we looked into the distance and saw a swaying bar, a bar that we needed to jump and grab. While the distance from the bar to the ledge was only about five to six feet away, the thing that comes to mind is, am I going to freeze and how bad is it going to hurt if I fall? There’s nothing left to do but close your eyes and, No guts, no glory. “ProRanger Woo!!!”
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Hike up to the cliff
ProRanger Philadelphia Program Manager Don Sweet on rappel
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"Park ranger internships guarantees students a future"
"Temple trains next generation of park rangers"
"Can't find a job, college grad? National Park Service is hiring"
"In venture with Temple U., Park Service combats looming shortage of rangers"
Monday, August 16, 2010
"National Park Service recruits students to guard historic sites"
Baltimore Sun (08/13/10)
"As half of park rangers near retirement, U.S. recruits college students"
Associated Press (08/13/10)
"Park Service has students guard historic sites"
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
"National Park Service goes back to college to build ranks, diversity"
"National Park Service Looking to Renew Ranger Ranks"
"Developing park ranger skills in an urban environment"
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Rock Creek, Gettysburg NMP - click to enlarge
Briefly, and on a personal note: This summer has been incredible. I still can't believe that the ranger on that boulder is actually me. I always thought I'd end up working in an office somewhere, even though I've always known that sort of thing is not for me. But just this afternoon, I was helping direct traffic around a vehicle accident and a little later on I was performing a lock-out for a visitor from England who had locked his keys in his car (essentially, we broke into his car at his request. Don't worry, we made sure it was actually his.) - and before any of that, I patrolled by hiking for a couple hours through the forest.
I don't really have the words to describe how (again) incredible its been this summer, though I'll probably make an attempt later on, in a separate and more coherent post. For now: Having a great time in Gettysburg. Wish you were here.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Here we have Travis programming the camera.
It took a while to program but we are just happy to finally figure it out.
Travis installing the camera.
Deer sighting on our way back to the Ranger House. Antietam has a huge deer population.
Even though it was only our first taste of NPS Law Enforcement action, I know we are going to learn so much during our tenure.
Till Next Time!
Here we have Ranger Chris Tawney sharpening his tool of choice, a Husqvarna Chainsaw. With chaps and face guard properly worn and secure, he is ready to fell some trees.
The video above shows Ranger Connor Malloy felling a tree. Notice his methodical style when he makes his notches, also known as cuts, in order to make the tree fall in a certain direction. It takes years of practice and expertise in order to fell a tree the way Ranger Malloy does it. His technique is unsurpassed. In addition to being able to run a saw, he is an authority when it comes to the natural landscape at Antietam. Any question regarding flora or fauna, he has an answer to it.
Above we have Ranger Malloy, Bucking a fallen tree. He is basically cutting it up into smaller pieces so the other rangers can put them into piles to be burned later on during the winter months.
Now that trees have been felled and bucked, I can start transporting them to the wood piles.
We came across a skull amidst all the brush. According to Ranger Andrew Landsman, it is identified as a deer skull.
Its hard work but hey who said preserving and protecting was easy.
Till Next Time!
Friday, July 16, 2010
This past Saturday, as was promised by Steve Clark, Alex and I were vacuuming, dusting, and yes cleaning toilets. Even though it may not be the most glorious of jobs it is an important one. While cleaning the Visitors Center (until it was spotless) I realized that the place I was in was the face of the park. This is where the visitors begin their journey through history and the experience could be diminished had the bathrooms and floors looked dirty and unkempt. Even though each department works separately and sometimes has to do what they may not enjoy, every department works to create a better environment for the people who visit the park. The people who do these less then reputable jobs do it proudly and with a smile making the jobs not seem so bad after all.
Be proud of what you do because others are proud of us. Park Rangers should be proud because we are doing a great service to the country. One example of this was presented to me on the 3rd of July at the Solute to Independence, which is a big concert held every year attracting nearly 20,000 people to Antietam. I was stationed near a busy road next to the park and instructed to keep traffic moving. A young man dressed in street clothes approached me and said that he was in the Army. The next thing he said came as a shock. "Thank you for your service" he said to me explaining next that he feels that Rangers don't get enough appreciation for the great jobs that they do in parks across America. He shook my hand patted my shoulder and went on his way. I stood for a second shocked that a person in the Army was thanking me for my service. Needless to say I was proud that he shared his opinion with me. See you all next week. Stay proud and keep up the good work.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Members of the 2010 Cohort - Rosalia Fiorello, Alex Buligon, Travis Gerhardt, Keith DeFabio, Giancarlo Graziani, Owen McDaniel, Aaron Lyle, Michael Hanna, Timothy Oh, Kathryn Snyder, Layla Schade, Melissa Burch, and Lytia Solomon - pose at the Fairmount Water Works on June 29, 2010 during a field trip.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Cottony egg sacks of HWA
Hemlock woolly adelgid is a severe problem here in our park. Many of our cemetary's hemlocks, as well as some of the trees near the old cyclorama building are currently infested with the sap-sucking insects. These cottony masses on the underside of the branches are full of eggs, which will one day mature into what Forestry Tech Randy described to me as "little crawlers" that will suck the sap from the tree's needles. This causes defoliation of the tree, and if left untreated, will inevitably cause the tree to die.
An infected tree
Trees with HWA have an almost silvery characteristic in their boughs, and all around look sick due to the attack on their needles. The Resource Management team has been working very hard to save our park's hemlocks.
Applying a root soak to the hemlocks
Currently, we're working from the ground up - by root soaking the hemlocks with an insecticide that is toxic to the HWA, but does not harm the tree. As the tree absorbs the insecticide in its root system, it becomes incorporated into the sap. This means that when the HWA crawlers try to suck the sap from the hemlock needles, they get a belly full of poison and drop dead - which is exactly what needs to happen to save the tree. Usually, rain helps in the application process, because it drives the insecticide down towards the roots so that it can be absorbed - but when it's dry (as it has been), manual watering is required.
I didn't get to work with the poisons, as I'm completely unqualified - but I did get to watch and ask questions, which is almost as good. It was interesting for me to get to learn first-hand exactly what goes into managing a landscape. Here at Gettysburg, we try to maintain the historic fields and orchards as they were the day of the battle - and yet, fields will naturally always attempt to return to forest.
Without farmers cutting woodlots for fuel and building materials, and without nearly the amount of farmers working the fields for crops - we have to take a more active, deliberate approach. Part of resource management's job, then, is to approximate the effects of 1860's tree cutting and farming through scheduled forestry activities such as health cuts and invasive species management. It is a job that literally never ends - because while we work 40 hours a week, mother nature never sleeps, and there's always going to be that field-to-forest process to contend with - along with the issue of managing unnatural, man-made issues such as the introduction of exotics and invasive.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The George Spangler Farmstead
On my second day in the resource management division, I was allowed to work with park historian Winona Peterson. She introduced me to some of the incredible complexities of protecting, maintaining, and preserving the park's irreplaceable historic resources.
While it is extremely difficult for me to write about what Winona explained to me regarding the intricacies of simultaneously protecting and promoting a resource (and still remain brief) - I did want to show some of the sites that I saw that day.
Barn at George Spangler
The first site we visited was the George Spangler Farm. This is a property located within our park boundary, but under ownership of our partner organization, The Gettysburg Foundation. Winona explained to me that this property is currently in the beginning stages of preservation - report writing! Basically, that means that it in the process of being evaluated so that the best course of action (in regards to use, preservation, etc) can be discerned.
The main interpretive interest in this property is that it was used as a Union field hospital during the battle of Gettysburg. Furthermore, it is known that Lewis Armistead died here on July 5th, 1893.
Summer kitchen at George Spangler, presumed to be the location where Armistead died. The plaque indicates this location as the place of Armistead's death.
Inside the Summer kitchen
The attic of the summer kitchen
Part of the preservation process involves what basically amounts to taking inventory of the resource itself. This means inspecting and taking note of the unique, important features to be preserved and, in this instance - finding out what is non-historic and needs to be removed. Personally, I'm used to seeing houses in developments, so I find the little "odd" things about these historic structures very interesting.
I thought that the most intriguing structures at the George Spangler property was the smokehouse. A chiefly utilitarian shack, it's incredible to think of just how long this little building used for hanging meats has been standing. Winona indicated to me that one of the more uncommon features of this particular building was the wooden slats covering the outside.
Wide-slatted siding on the smokehouse
It may not be immediately evident from the picture, but these boards are extremely wide - and the exceptional dimensions of the slats are a prime indicator that they are part of the original fabric of the building. As Winona explained to me, it would be nearly impossible to get boards cut to these specifications.
Because they cannot be replaced (much like any original object), special care has to be taken in their restoration. As was the case with the Groft barn which I worked in earlier, when these boards are disassembled, they will be carefully numbered so that they can be put back into place exactly as they were.
I also had the opportunity to visit the site of the Klingel house, another historic structure. This particular building, however, is already in the process of being preserved. It too, has a number of interesting indications of originality.
Interior door, Klingel house
This interior door opens into one of the upstairs bedrooms, and shows two areas of damage from bullets sustained during the battle.
Horse hair fibers clearly visible sticking from a crack in original plaster
The original plaster used to construct the walls of the house is still in place and for the most part, in-tact. During this era, horsehair was added to the plaster in order to give it strength.
A small, warm, cupboard
The Klingel house has a chimney that runs centrally through its two floors. Curiously, in the rooms the chimney passes through we found these small cupboards. With their back walls oriented towards the flume, they were used for keeping items warm - but what, exactly, was kept warm inside of them is beyond me.
Chinking, laid in the same order it was removed from the walls
Composed of the wedged "waste" ends of cut lumber (or whatever sticks and such were handy, in some instances) chinking (along with daubing, which is the plaster or mud) is used to fill the gaps between boards in a wall. The chinking laid out here at Klingel has been carefully arranged in the order in which it was taken out, so that it can be replaced exactly as it was. The crews out here also recently found a spent minie ball (a kind of bullet) within the daubing, and since this is the first time the chinking in this building has been disturbed - expects that there may yet be more artifacts inside as well. Keeping the context of possible artifacts that get uncovered by restoration work is another reason why the restoration must be a careful, deliberate process.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
1- The National Park Service is a really great place to work. Everybody loves doing what their doing and everyone is extremely friendly. The Park Service culture, especially at Antietam, is in full affect. They are always willing to teach and to learn something new themselves. Progress to become better and to improve the resources the park has to offer to the American people is a main initiative and everyone believes in the shared vision regardless of division.
2-The Park Rangers that work at National Parks are extremely knowledgable and are experts in field. Whether it is Natural or Cultural resource work, Maintenance, Interpretation, Protection, or Administration these rangers hold specialized knowledge that few possess. At Antietam, there is no shortage of Masters Degrees or Phd's. Even if a degree is not held, the rangers here hold artisan skills such as masonry, historical carpentry technique, engine specialists, preservation, etc. I feel every Ranger I have met here is a specialist or Master of some skill that very few people can do. I was really blown away by the historical and artisan technique possesed by the cultural resource division, the pure historical brainpower and ability and aptitude to teach the general public possessed by interp division, the scientific genious yet physicality of the natural resource division, the drive and work ethic the Maitenance division uses to run the park, and the vital support Administration plays that all blend togther to make a truely wonderful park experience for the visitors that come. Even the protection rangers are cross trained in a variety of discilpines besides law enforcement, protection rangers are hybrids that can assist in a variety of park disciplines.
3-A National Park Service Ranger is a highly coveted federal government position that everyone wants but the opportunity is rarely afforded. I am extremely fortunate to be in the position that I presently find myself.
4-The National Park Service is an extremely stable job. I have talked with individuals who have worked at park the for long periods of time and they love their job. People have been at Antietam 10, 20, and 30 years plus and they would not trade it for any place in the world.
5-The jobs are so diverse, even within the division and crew level, that everyday is different and there is always a different task at hand. This creates a fresh and exciting feel to NPS work. One day I maybe on a trail performing maintenance, another day I maybe removing invasive species, and yet another day we maybe teaching visitors. It always changes, no day is ever the same. To put it in plain language, NPS work is really cool work!
These are just some points I have been reflecting on during my time as a ProRanger at Antietam National Battlefield. At Anti passion for the park is present and on display for all to see.
Till Next Time