Friday, July 13, 2012

Antietam National Battlefield: Week 9

Greetings from Antietam!

Morgan and I have been very busy this week with a wide variety of assignments. On Monday, we finished up our last day with Natural Resource Management by completing several important duties. We began the day at Monocacy National Battlefield, (our "sister park") with Ranger Andrew Landsman. Ranger Landsman assists Monocacy with specialised Natural Resource studies and provides support to their Natural Resource Division. This is a prime example of Park Service units workings together to achieve a common goal.

Morgan digging a post-hole.
Our task for Monday was to inspect and update all of the Emerald Ash Borer traps at Monocacy. These traps are three sided purple boxes that hang from ash trees and contain a special manuka oil lure that attracts the Ash Borer. Each side of the trap contains a glue that keeps the beetles trapped for inspection. Morgan and I assisted Ranger Landsman inspect the traps and identify the various bugs and insects that were caught. Once the traps were checked, we attached a new lure and repositioned the traps in the trees. The staff at Antietam and Monocacy will continue to monitor the traps in the future.

Later in the day on Monday we helped the Natural Resource Rangers water seal the benches along the parks trail system. The benches must be sealed annually in order to keep them safe for visitor use and prevent additional maintenance issues. Morgan and I assisted Rangers and YCC students carry the supplies into the trails and spread the water sealant on the benches. Following our water sealing project, we assisted with clean-up and returned to the Natural Resource offices.

After our time with Natural Resources, Morgan and I returned to Law Enforcement for the remainder of the week. On Tuesday, our Supervisory Ranger Tom Jones challenged us to complete an independent work project at the park. Our assignment was to identify and mark problem culvert areas that cause property damage and visitor injury. We began this assignment with a driving tour through the park to gather a checklist of supplies and equipment. Next, we visited the park warehouse to collect our supplies and plan our objectives. At this time, Ranger Jones contacted the Chief of Maintenance to receive approval for our project. Once approved, we began to finalize our plan.

Installing reflective markers.
 On Wednesday Morgan and I reported to the Ranger Station to get started on our work assignment. Following a morning patrol of the park, we loaded our equipment and supplies into the truck and began to implement our plan. At each culvert we used a post-hole digger to make a hole for the reflective posts. After digging the hole, we installed the posts and insured that they were plum (standing straight). In total, Morgan and I installed four reflective posts and two carsonite signs at four different culverts. These new signs will alert visitors of the culverts and prevent visitor injury and property damage.

Thursday morning we began our day with a morning patrol of the battlefield. Next, Morgan and I put the finishing touches on our independent work project by washing the signs and installing additional reflective markers. In addition to our sign project, we also responded to a report of illegal dumping in the park. After an investigation, we determined that the waste products should be discarded properly. Ranger Jones and I returned to the dumping site and removed the items for proper disposal in the park recycling bins. Later, Morgan and I took the non-recyclable items to the maintenance yard to complete the clean-up process.

Disposing of refuse materials at the Maintenance Yard.
Friday marked our final work day of week nine. Instead of patrolling the park in a traditional patrol vehicle, Morgan and I completed our morning patrol on bicycles. Before leaving on bike patrol, we checked over the patrol bikes and made small adjustments to their setup. Once on patrol, Morgan and I covered about half of the park tour roads and made several stops at visitor use locations. At these locations, Morgan and I assisted visitors and answered their questions about the battlefield. Bike patrol was a great experience that allowed us to meet visitors and see the park from a different perspective.

Ready to roll!

After returning from bike patrol, Morgan and I accompanied the Natural Resource Division on a field trip to the Maryland State Fish Hatchery. The staff at the Hatchery raises trout fish for the State waterways and stocks the waterways with the trout. This process is very interesting and involves countless man-hours. The raceways at the Hatchery are open 365 days per year and require round-the-clock supervision. The fish at the Hatchery can be fed seven times per day, a duty done manually by each employee. In addition, the water must be cleaned and inspected often to insure a healthy fish population.

This week at Antietam provided us with a great overview of all the different duties that are assigned to a Park Ranger. Our independent work project challenged us to use our problem solving skills and work with other divisions to accomplish a common goal. In addition, our bike patrol introduced us to the advantages of community-oriented patrols and allowed us to see the differences between bike and vehicle patrols. Our time with Natural Resources also introduced us to new management techniques and exposed us to the duties of a Natural Resource Ranger.The knowledge and experience that we gained this week will benefit Morgan and I well into the future.

Golden and Rainbow trout.
Stay updated with the blog as we approach our final weeks at Antietam! Next week Morgan and I will be working with the Maintenance Division before concluding our summer with Law Enforcement.

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