Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 5 at Mount Rushmore

There were a multitude of different tasks for me this past week at the park.  On Monday I assisted in a detail overseeing a Commercial Use Permit.  The permit was for the filming of Chris Matthew’s television show Hardball.  Ranger Darin Oestmann and I had to stand by while they were filming to make sure the filming crew was not going to do anything that could be damaging to the park.  We also had to make sure that no visitors would be heckling or interfering with the filming.  Commercial Use Permits require completed paperwork in advance along with specific details of what exactly the group will be doing and what type of equipment they will have.  Every park has certain guidelines that need to be followed in order for the permit to be authorized.  The primary guideline is that the permit cannot interfere with regular park visitation.  The filming was taking place out of the way of the main foot traffic and was not causing harm to any of the resource.  They were able to complete what they needed to with our supervision without causing any problems. 
Tuesday, Ranger Joe Turgyan and I did about a four mile back country patrol on the west boundary of the park.  We followed the boundary signs as well as kept track where we were on the map.  Turgyan let me lead for most of the hike which was very helpful for learning some navigation techniques as well as help me feel more comfortable in the back country.  We were able to discuss the importance of always being prepared for anything.  As a ranger, we are looked to for helping others when they become lost or get into some type of trouble.  If we do not come with the proper equipment (jackets, footwear, ropes) or sufficient supplies (food and water) a single-person search and rescue trip can become a multiple-person evacuation rather quickly.We also saw our fair share of wildlife while on our patrol which is always very neat to see!

Ponderosa Pine Tree damage done
by the Pine Beetles.

This past week I was able to get some time doing a ride-along with Ranger Steve Wollman.  When we would conduct a traffic stop Wollman would have me approach the car on the passenger side.  As he was handling the driver and getting information I would make “small talk” with the passenger.  He told me to always be aware of the person’s hands; that it is extremely important to be able to see them at all times.  He told me to also take a look in the car and be vigilant of any odd items that were in plain sight.  Once he would be finished with the contact we would compare the stories we were told by the driver and passenger to make sure their stories were similar.  Wollman explained to me the importance of approaching a contact in a way to make them feel that you are their friend.  It is about finding some type of commonality so you can make a connection which can help build their trust in you.  He told me that once you have their trust it makes the likelihood of getting their consent for a vehicle search that much greater. 
Every Flag Day, Mount Rushmore hosts the Naturalization Ceremony.  My duty during the ceremony was to let the vehicles into the amphitheater where the ceremony was being held.  Usually the driveway behind the amphitheater is gated off but the presenters needed direct access.  Unfortunately I was unable to see much of the ceremony, but there were many smiling and happy faces around the park.  It is amazing to see such pride and joy of these people becoming citizens and helps you realize what a great country we live in.  It is something that many of us take for granted and having this little reminder can make all the difference.
Another amazing view from
my back country patrol.
I ended my week with my first solo back country patrol.  My supervisor allowed me to go hike on my own and wanted me to get a better feel of the wooded part of the park.  This really gave me the opportunity to truly be on my own for a few hours and get a little more confidence navigating my way.  Every day here my experiences are different and I love the versatility Mount Rushmore has to offer.  There is still so much to see and learn and I’m doing my best to soak it all in! 

ProRanger Erin Langeheine

No comments:

Post a Comment