Here’s to Pretty Postcards, Happy Endings & everything in-between
Excerpts taken from Ranger Confidential. Living, working, and dying in the National Parks by Andrea Lankford
“For 12 years i lived and worked in some of the most sublime places in the world. I participated in search and rescues, wild land firefighting, and law enforcement. I directed traffic around tarantula jams. I pursued bad guys while galloping on horseback. I jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the dark heart of the Grand Canyon and plucked the damned from the jaws of the abyss. I raced the sunset. I won arguments with bears. I dodged lighting bolts. I pissed on forest fires. I slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.
Hell, yeah, it was the best job in the world. And fortunately i survived it.
Park rangers bring to mind images fit for a postcard. The sylvan scenes make for pretty portraits of a ranger’s life, but as every park ranger eventually learns, sunny postcards tell only half a story.
Even paradise has its problems. Criminals go on vacation too.
In the United States, a park ranger is more likely to be assaulted in the line of duty than is any other federal officer, including those who work for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Secret Service; and the Drug Enforcement Administration. A park ranger is 12 times more likely to die on the job than is a special agent for the FBI. In light of such numbers, some describe park rangers- like grizzly bears, wild orchids, and sea turtles- as “endangered”.
This is a work of nonfiction. The park rangers are real people. The stories are true.
Reader beware. Ranger reality is rated R. Nature doesn’t alway play nice. Public servants curse from time to time. Search and rescue can involve wet work. Cliffhangers don’t always have happy endings.”