Why We Are Really Here

June 28, 2016 Posted by: Robert Evans

Visiting a park might be more exciting than working at one. The ability to go a National Park Service site is yours, mine, and everyone’s. To feel the appreciation and mutual respect we all have for the parks brings all of us together. Visitors make the parks, and it is a pleasure to work with them. 

After six weeks of training at King Salmon, cancelled trips, and rain checks, my coworker and I have arrived at Amalik Bay. Katmai National Park and Preserve has thirteen bays along its eastern border and staffs at least two of them in the summer. Like all the rangers before and after me, I will say this – where I work is the best place in the world!

Ranger Robert drives a motor boat through the bayRanger Robert driving the boat on a patrol of Amalik Bay, with views like this you can see why I say it’s the best! NPS Photo/M. Cohn

The first patrol of the summer ended in Geographic Harbor. We saw a sailboat and decided to contact them. The boat was filled with five individuals from Homer, Alaska who were surprised, but ecstatic to see a boat filled with four uniformed rangers. “Is it okay that we are here?” someone asked from the boat as they waved. “Of course!” we replied. (This seems to be a common response when someone in uniform approaches us, we may feel like we have done something wrong!)

Visitors wave from a sail boat and kayakThe friendly visitors from Homer. NPS Photo/C. Turner

After a sigh of relief and some big smiles, they insisted we come aboard. We interrupted, or as they told us ‘added’, to their happy hour. They offered us crackers, cheese, and cranberry juice, which we gladly accepted. Our hour and a half on the boat began as a large conversation but evolved into smaller individual ones. Their questions poured out about the area. Luckily, with the combined experience of a Law Enforcement Ranger, a Coastal Biologist, and two Wilderness Rangers, we were able to help each other when we did not know a specific answer. After their questions started to subside, we started to ask them questions and listened to their personal knowledge and history. My coworker and I have not been alive for as long as they had been coming to the park! After a few laughs (them losing their trash in the water and us helping to retrieve it) we parted ways and told them to stop by the cabin anytime.

Two rangers stand in front of their cabinRangers Montana and Robert in front of the Amalik Cabin. NPS Photo/C. Turner

Over the next three days we visited with the visitors often. We gave them a Bear Safety Talk and a Coastal Bear Pin. We also gave them a new educational book on Katmai, theirs was 40 years old. We spoke about the weather conditions and what we have been doing. They filled us in about what they had been seeing; a fox with three legs, swimming bears, and other boats. We were visited by two of them one evening at our one room cabin. It started with a grand tour: all two chairs, sink, desk, and bunk beds of it. The tour ended by enjoying the view from the porch overlooking the beautiful bay. They visited for an hour with more stories and questions. 

“If my tax dollars are for Rangers to be out here, providing a service of educating and protecting this National Park, they are tax dollars well spent”. 

Knowing that this visitor, or any visitor, is satisfied with the service that we as Park Rangers do is very important. That is why we are here – for them! Hearing visitor stories, listening to their suggestions, and improving our park service strengthens our bond for this wonderful place. A bond that will help protect places like Katmai forever. 

Two rangers approach on a small boatNPS Photo/C. Turner

Katmai National Park, ranger, adventure, interpretation




6 Comments Comments icon

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    April 24, 2018 at 09:37
     

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  2. cat hat
    April 24, 2018 at 09:37
     

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  3. July 06, 2016 at 08:43
     

    Thanks for the great post! I've been to Hallo Bay and Brooks in Katmai. Your cabin is certainly in a beautiful setting. Thanks for all you do to keep Katmai a wild and wonderful place!

     
  4. June 29, 2016 at 11:47
     

    Wonderful blog.... Years ago I knew a ranger who worked in the Maze District of Canyonlands NP. I remember us laughing about the requirement to wear a uniform at all times, even when hiking in the Maze in the days where you could go all day and not see anyone. It was also very hot and a uniform didn't always work with the weather. I can imagine there are days where Rangers Montana and Dave have the same debate in their one room cabin, but if they are well trained, they know the uniform must be worn. A great summer experience that the Rangers will never forget!!

     
  5. June 29, 2016 at 11:30
     

    cool and informative article - thanks - this is my first year being involved with learning about bears and so far I love it. May have to put Katmai on my bucket list. God Bless you and keep you safe for the work you do. Thank you.

     
  6. June 29, 2016 at 11:30
     

    cool and informative article - thanks - this is my first year being involved with learning about bears and so far I love it. May have to put Katmai on my bucket list. God Bless you and keep you safe for the work you do. Thank you.

     
 
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Last updated: June 28, 2016

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