Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cuyahoga Valley NP Week 9 & 10

Week 9

I have been very busy this past week, getting some overtime in helping with some projects. The big thing, which I am still working on (because there is a lot more to do!) are the radio checks. I mentioned in a previous post that there are some radio problems, and this is what we are working to fix. People working on the radios have been coming to try to fix things, but first we need to find out where all the dead spots are. To figure out the problem, the best thing to do is get rid of as many variables as possible. This means we need to check all the different types of radios on different settings (with or without the mic, with or without the scan) on all the different channels at all the locations at the park. This is a really big project however only one person can be doing a radio check at a time, and only if there is no other traffic going on. I have done over 600 radio checks but there are at least 1200 more to go! We may not be able to finish them all but we are going to try to get some more knocked out!

I got a chance to work with Cultural Resources, on the day that they do their butterfly survey! We met up at a field, which used to have a huge sports stadium but is now grass, and I was briefed on how it worked. The state of Ohio is monitoring the species of butterflies, and amounts of each one. The way to calculate this is by walking in an area and if a butterfly (or dragonfly) is within in 5 feet, you tally it. Or if one flies by you may count that. To be sure of which species it is we try to catch it in a big butterfly net. The weather has to be warm and sunny though for the butterflies to come out. I was very surprised by how much Doug, the one in charge of this study here, knew about the butterflies! Most of them he could identify as they flew by, and we only caught them to verify and for him to teach the others about identifying them. We hiked a very large area, and I was able to catch a few myself! I learned some basics on identifying butterflies from moths, the types of environments prefer, and even identifying them based on their flight pattern. I had no idea about all these differences between butterflies. It was very exciting and educational for me!

On Saturday, July 20th, I was able to do a detail at James A. Garfield National Historic Site. They were hosting their annual Civil War Encampment, but being a small site and only a little ways north of Cuyahoga, we help them out for their big event. I went up with Ranger Muroski, my flat hat, and a traffic vest. We helped direct parking and assisted in informing the visitors where the overflow lot with the shuttle bus was. The event included a lot of interpretation, living history, and events going on. Seeing and getting to talk to different Union and Confederate soldiers as well as President Garfield and President Lincoln was also very exciting. I got a chance to walk around the visitor center and Garfield's home, and learn a lot about him. The event was a great success and it was great to see many children and young adults coming out to learn and enjoy the activities. They also did the event on Sunday, though I was not there that day, but I heard it went just as great! I am very glad I got a chance to work at and visit a new National site, and meet the Rangers that work there, who were all very helpful and nice.

Week 10

I started my week out a day early to do some overtime for a Specials Use Permit (SUP). The event was a photo shoot happening on the Beaver Marsh. The company was taking these photos for marketing a new device to help paraplegics get their mobility back. I was there to make sure they were not obstructing the Towpath because visitors still needed to be able to cross, and also to explain to visitors what was going on because seeing a whole bunch of cameras and lights and backings is not something most people are used to seeing, especially on the peaceful beaver marsh! Most visitors were very understanding about the photo shoot, and felt it was a perfect spot to take the pictures. The SUP went very well, and the photos came out great. The photographers were all very friendly and appreciative of my help. It was great to see something new and different, especially for something so good, and I love any chance I get to go out on the Beaver Marsh.

On Friday I was able to go with three other Rangers to court. I briefly mentioned this case before, exactly a month ago, stating I wanted to see the continuation of this case to see what happens when someone pleads not guilty. The case was about a mountain biker biking on areas where mountain biking is illegal. Ranger Kiel has taken me on these illegal mountain bike trails and we have hiked it looking for more evidence of bikers. People continuously biking in this area are leaving very obvious trails behind, and biking through protected wetlands. This causes harm to the environment so the Rangers try to catch the people that keep doing this. In early May, two Rangers caught two mountain bikers. Both individuals were cited for biking off trail, and the one paid his ticket. The other one I met last month when he came into court to plead not guilty. A new court date was scheduled so that the issuing Officers could come in. The day arrived and I was able to come to see how it all works. The Rangers had previously met with the Prosecutor to fill him in on the entire situation. Defendant comes in, and finally the judge and the trial begins. The biggest curveball came when the judge found discrepancy in the citation. Turns out that a few days after the latest copy of the Code of Federal Regulations came out (July 2012), some minor changes were made. So the number that this man was issued a ticket under no longer matched what it was for- an invalid citation like this could be thrown out. However the issuing Officer is able to rewrite the ticket because it was within the time limit of when the new CFR adjustments came out. Once we got that squared away the proceedings were able to continue. The prosecutor and defendant both made their statements. Then the prosecutor called in each Ranger individually as a witness to answer questions. They took the oath and sat in the witness stand. The Prosecutor asked them a bunch of questions, and then the defendant asked a bunch of questions. The defendant (representing himself) got a chance to sit in the witness stand after taking an oath, and answer his questions, and the prosecutor asked him questions. I saw how the defendant brought in evidence and the process for that to go through to be able to be used as evidence. Because this was misdemeanor it was in front of a judge not a whole jury. So when the time came the judge looked at all the evidence and found the man guilty. She explained to him that ‘not knowing something is illegal’ is not a defense. This is good to remember because it is important to know where signs are posted and what signs, so if someone tries to use that, you already have the knowledge of where they should have seen the posting, and therefore it is not a defense. After 5 hours of being in court, we were finished. The prosecutor talked to the Rangers about their testimony, because this was the first time they had done it. Hearing his comments on what they did well and how they could have improved also helped me learn. I learned so much in that time about the court system and what to expect beyond the initial writing of the citation.
A lot going on and my time here is almost at an end! Still enough time for more great experiences though, so keep reading!


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