Here at Rocky we have many amazing groups who donate their time to help out the park, but few can match the diversity of the World Ranger Congress who volunteered last month.The volunteer group included rangers from 10 different countries speaking 7 different languages.
This year marked the 8th World Ranger Congress (WRC), a tri- annual event that has been meeting since its first session in Poland, 21 years ago.The Congress has met all over the world and landed this year in Estes Park.This year's WRC was attended by delegates from 63 countries and gives rangers from around the world a chance to meet and discuss current topics and new ideas. Seventeen of these rangers chose to spend the day volunteering in Rocky.
Volunteers from 10 different countries pose for a photo after
replanting an area in Wild Basin. NPS Photo
Morning Project: Wild Basin Vegetation Restoration
No one comes to Rocky Mountain National Park to see a pile of bare dirt!To keep the park looking green and beautiful the World Ranger Congress spent the morning with the Park's Resource Division, planting several species of native grasses and other plants.Volunteers from South Korea, Norway, Zimbabwe, the Czech Republic, Kenya, Brazil, Fiji, the UK, Australia, and USA all worked together to restore a former parking area in Wild Basin.
Not only was the work done fantastic, but it also gave rangers from across the globe a unique chance to discuss different ideas and solutions to problems faced by parks around the world.Many of the rangers also rely heavily on volunteers and wanted a chance to see how our VIP program was run (they all loved it by the way!).
A group of rangers from Seoul, South Korea shared how inspiring it was to see the respect for nature that Rocky's visitors had.They wanted to take this lesson back to Korea and show the importance of respecting and taking care of our natural resources.
Another ranger from Kenya told about the difficulties of minimizing human/wildlife conflict in Africa.Every day on the job for him involves facing dangerous wildlife such as lions and leopards, or even worse, armed poachers.He is tasked with the difficult challenge of helping people realize it is much better to live with wildlife then to try to live without them.By promoting eco-tourism and government programs for lost livestock;he is able to show low-income communities the value of sharing space with wildlife.
Afternoon Project: Fire-Fuels Reduction
If you want to spend an afternoon working hard, having fun, and leave feeling like you accomplished something, then Doug Watry is the man to contact.He keeps buildings and firefighters safe by removing excess trees and limbs in key areas.Of course he couldn't do this without the help of volunteers!The WRC hauled, stacked, and piled timber to create burn piles.This helps reduce the amount of burnable material in key areas-protecting park buildings and helping make the firefighters' jobs a little easier.
While working, the visiting rangers discussed just what it means to be a 'ranger'.Their jobs are all very different-For example, Luciano helps to protect rain-forests in Brazil from loggers while Frank works hard to stop wolf poachers in Norway.Others, like the rangers from Fiji, Tasmania, and Victoria, Australia, found they all shared the common problem of dealing with invasive species.
Despite the problems facing National Parks around the world, the rangers and volunteers serving in them all share a deep respect and passion for keeping these wild places safe.Hopefully, events such as the World Ranger Congress help show that conservation is not simply a local or even national concern, but a global problem.If this volunteer group was any indicator of how well rangers from around the world can work together to solve problems, then our National Parks are in good hands.
Visiting rangers help to build the perfect burn pile. NPS Photo