Sunday, June 3, 2012

UPDE Weeks 1&2 and part of 3

First of all, William and I would like to apologize for not getting a post out sooner; we have had some technology issues these first weeks. We arrived on the 12th to our quaint trailer in the woods where we will be living this summer. It is a modest home with tons of land to explore. Unfortunately, one can say that we are “roughing it” because we don’t have cable or internet, but we are finding that the detachment is actually nice. We had a couple days to explore the 73 miles of river and surrounding land before our first day of work, and thanks to a couple of the Law Enforcement Officers, we were able to check out some of the major visitation areas.
Our first day at the park, May 15th, consisted of a meeting with the other interns who will be working here and the Supervisors of the individual departments at UPDE. We met the park Superintendent, Sean McGuinness and several other individuals. For two days, May 16th and 17th, William, myself and the other interns made the hour long drive down to our sister park, The Delaware Water Gap, for training with their interpretation staff. We talked about the mission of the Park Service and how that mission should be interpreted to our visitors. We learned how to create programs for visitors and how to properly complete park objectives. Along with the other interns, we took a hike through one up the Water Gap’s trails and simulated a program for visitors. My group talked about how the different areas of the park were affected by agriculture and industrialization before the park was mapped out, and how evidence of these things are still visible in the different layers of vegetation. We also got a chance to meet with representatives from a New Jersey based organization that educates people on the different types of snakes in the region and what to look out for. On the 18th we received another tour of UPDE from one boat access, Ten Mile River, down to the southern end of the park at Port Jervis. Later that day, we started receiving training on how to conduct life jacket surveys, which will be one of our main objectives this summer. These classroom sessions were held at the historic Grey Towers, and Park Service Employees from the Delaware Water Gap, UPDE and the Regional Office were there. In fact, William and I got to spend some time with our program director, Chief Coast, as she was also receiving the life jacket training.
In these two days, we learned a lot about how to identify the type of boat, the individuals who are operating and riding in them, and how to determine the type of life vest that they are wearing. This training will be fundamental for the successful completion of UPDE’s life jacket survey this summer.
Our second week at UPDE started on May 22nd with First Aid training, driver training and Kiosk operation training from one of the Law Enforcement officers, Vince Pareago. The next day, the 23rd, we were able to complete our CPR/AED certifications with Ranger Pareago, the other interns and members of the National River Patrol, and we were issued both First Aid and CPR/AED certifications from the American Red Cross that last for two years.
William and I both feel more comfortable patrolling the heavily visited recreation areas now that we have these skills. May 24th and 25th consisted of Canoe Training from Ranger Kevin Reisch. We learned about the dangers of hypothermia, how to tie different knots, how to properly use a rescue throw bag, and how to use the different strokes in a canoe so you don’t have to switch sides while paddling. Once we were very comfortable with paddling in a canoe, we had to jump into the chilly river and practice how to paddle in a “swapped” canoe, how to put on a life jacket in the water, how to huddle with others to keep in body warmth and how to walk along the river in a safe fashion. We also had to experience what it is like to float through the biggest rapid chain in the park, Skinner Falls. On the second day, we took a 15 mile trip down the river in our canoes and further practiced our skills and learned how to flip a swamped canoe from our canoe. Our second week was extra-long because of Memorial Day weekend, so we were on duty from the 22nd until the 28th. May 26th was an exciting day because it marked our first day in the field, away from the classrooms and in uniforms. We patrolled the river with Ranger Reisch and Ranger Pareago on the powerboat, which has over 200 horsepower inboard motor and can operate in three inches of water; needless to say, we had a lot of fun patrolling on it! That same day, while on patrol, we were got to observe a marijuana and under-age drinking bust. On the 27th, we were on the powerboat again patrolling the river, making sure that individuals had life jackets readily accessible and that nobody was fishing without a proper fishing license. On the 28th we were on the powerboat again searching for extra evidence in an ongoing case involving two individuals setting up an illegal trot-line, which spans the length of the river and holds several hundred fishing hooks. Our second week was a long one, but we covered a lot of different training opportunities and finally got some experience on the water!
Our third week started on May 31st with an all member staff meeting at Park Headquarters. Here, we got to meet and greet with everyone who we had not already met, like individuals from the Administration and Maintenance divisions. The day was topped off with a fantastic outdoor lunch by the river and a baking competition. On June 1st, William and I had the chance to sit in on a meeting with NPS Law Enforcement officers and two officers from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to discuss the trot-line case. On June 2nd, we reported to Skinners Falls to start some of the life jacket surveys and patrol the rocks and beach. We recorded around fifty boats and are happy to report that we only had three individuals who were not wearing life jackets. There were five drowning’s at UPDE last year, so seeing people wearing their life jackets is a relieving thing. Today, June 3rd, we traveled to West Virginia to start our week here at the National Conservation Training Center. I was not too sure what to expect from the facility, but it is a very nice place and we are looking forward to this coming week. Thankfully, we have wifi in our room so we will have another post coming soon. Again, we apologize about the length of this post, but we had a lot to cover. Thanks for reading!

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