Park History Program
Park History Program
The Association of National Park Rangers (ANPR.org), a group of nearly 800 national park rangers and others who support their work, wishes to respectfully express its serious concerns over the proposal to increase some entrance fees to $70, and urges that the fee proposal be reworked.
First, the Association is concerned about ensuring safe conditions for employees and visitors. Park visitors have been expressing frustration over issues including high fees, long lines, lack of parking and lack of staff. There have been incidents of fee collectors and visitor center staff being yelled at and harassed over these issues. In many units of the National Park System, ranger staffing levels have been declining while visitor use has been increasing. Many parks hire seasonal employees during peak season. The fee increase may shift visitor use to off-peak seasons when fewer staff members are available to assist visitors, or it may encourage people to purchase the $80 Annual Pass and increase visitation, further overwhelming existing facilities and staff in some of the proposed parks at the same time park operations budgets are proposed to be cut.
Second, we have concerns that visitors may purchase the $80 Annual Passes in lieu of the single-visit (7-day) $70 passes. Annual Pass receipts are not used to support park transportation systems. In parks with shuttle buses, a major portion of the single-visit entrance fee pays for this transportation system to alleviate traffic congestion. If, instead of paying a $70 entrance fee, visitors purchase Annual Passes, shuttle bus system funding may be in serious jeopardy, adding to overcrowding.
Third, the Association is concerned if entrance fees are raised as proposed, low and middle-income families and individuals may not be able to visit during their summer vacation. If visiting national parks becomes costprohibitive, support for conserving these lands will decrease.
Lastly, we are concerned that a proposal to triple the fees at certain parks assumes that National Park System areas are primarily recreation sites that might be eventually largely financed by visitor receipts. However, more than just recreation sites, these are places that preserve, by law, our natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations. Many values are protected in our national parks, including outstanding wildlife, wilderness, recreation, and historic resources that are the envy of the world. They provide an important “window” into our past and future that must be preserved.
The Association of National Park Rangers wants to keep our national treasures accessible, protected, and safe for all visitors, and believes they ought to be managed primarily with federal tax revenues, with an additional limited contribution of fees from the people who visit in a given year. We look forward to working with the Administration to solve the issues that arise and to ensure the protection of our national parks for future generations.
Contact: Tom Banks, TreasurerANPR@aol.com
Commemorative centennial badges are now available to National Park Service employees and retirees. These special designs were created with the help of NPS employees, and take the official NPS emblem as their inspiration--with several added elements to celebrate 2016 as the centennial year.
You can view and purchase them here:
On August 7, President Obama signed H.R. 1531, the Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act, which allows seasonal temporary employees in federal land management agencies to compete for vacant permanent positions under internal merit promotion procedures.
The bill will also waive age requirements that currently prevent well-qualified temporary seasonal firefighters from competing for permanent positions.
The National Federation of Federal Employees, which has championed the legislation, applauded the new law.
ANPR is pleased to have supported this bill as well.
Download this information in PDF format (45K pdf)
Graduates of an accredited Seasonal Law Enforcement Academy who have attained/or are working to attain a National Registry EMT certification.
"V" signifying Volunteer, the V-Unit program is a six-month volunteer LE, EMS and SAR- oriented program supporting South Rim Patrol at Grand Canyon National Park.
V-Units will spend 32 hours a week patrolling the South Rim conducting visitor assists, assisting Law Enforcement with MVAs and traffic control, responding to EMS calls, assisting with SARs, helping with law enforcement investigations and collateral duties, reporting crimes, and completing other duties as assigned. V-Units will begin their season with a two week ride-along orientation with South Rim Patrol. In addition, V-Units will attend LE Refreshers and all applicable LE, EMS and SAR trainings.
Summer seasons will run approximately June 1 to Nov. 30; Winter seasons will run approximately Dec. 1 to May 31
Shared housing on the South Rim: utilities, uniform, patrol vehicle and emergency equipment will be provided.
One of the greatest challenges to starting your career will be finding your first seasonal job. Competition is fierce and hiring officials have the overwhelming task of choosing from a large applicant pool in a very short amount of time. Only applicants who have taken it upon themselves to attain additional experience stand out above the rest. This is where the Grand Canyon V-Unit program can benefit you.
While working alongside future peers and employers, you will gain the experiences you need to become competitive, the references needed to vouch for your capabilities, and the confidence to become a competent U.S. Park Ranger. Supervisors will help identify your career development needs and work with you to facilitate training and exposure.
But what if I'm hired by another park while volunteering for Grand Canyon?
Great! No hard feelings. While this program is designed to assist the Visitor and Resource Protection Division at Grand Canyon, our ultimate goal is to benefit the National Park Service by preparing its next generation of future rangers.
Although this is a volunteer program, V-Units will be urged to sign up for after-hours emergency responses and will be paid as emergency hire employees when needed.
Request application packets and send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Office of Personnel Management has issued final rules expanding eligibility for FEHB (the Federal Employees Health Benefits program), along with a full employer contribution, for certain temporary, seasonal and intermittent employees currently ineligible. Those categories will become eligible if they are expected to work, or be on certain types of approved leave without pay such as parental leave, on average for 130 hours per month and are expected to work at least 90 days. The rules in the Oct. 17 Federal Register are effective in time for those newly eligible employees to elect coverage for the 2015 plan year.
ANPR is pleased to have supported this successful expansion of health benefits to seasonal employees.
Read more details about FEHB here: www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/healthcare
— Erika Jostad, ANPR president
(information updated Jan. 22, 2015)
The Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP) was developed in 1977 to prepare the seasonal ranger to perform law enforcement in areas administered by the National Park Service. The training program is offered at various venues across the country. The core required program consists of 400 class hours. Some programs may require additional hours.
A successful graduate becomes eligible to receive a Type II law enforcement commission once a background investigation, drug testing and medical screening is completed. Read this information regarding medical standards for commissioned rangers: MedicalStandards.pdf. Prospective students should contact the school they plan on attending for the specific graduation requirements. Fitness requirements for seasonal positions will be posted here when they become applicable and available.
Once obtained, the commission enables the bearer to carry firearms, make arrests, investigate crimes and assist in the execution of warrants.
The cost of each school's program is set by the administration of that school. Prospective students should personally contact the directors of the schools being considered and inquire as to the availability of housing and meals, as well as the tuition costs and any additional fees for ammunition, targets or other items.
We have attempted to offer the most recent information on class dates, but cancellations and changes in scheduling are not uncommon.
It’s not easy being green and gray — especially when you are early in a career with the National Park Service and want a better understanding of why your work matters and how it fits into the big picture.
I have been there and found it really frustrating. In time I found a solution that was effective, a genuine pleasure and a boost to my career. Just as important, it was bargain-basement cheap. Especially today, the Park Service’s severe budget woes make this worth considering. I have in mind no more than noontime brown-bag discussions held once a week.
Probably unlike most other Park Service employees, I was 27 before I even learned that the agency existed. Trained as a geologist, then involved with oil prospecting around the country, I had been to a number of parks but paid no attention to who was managing them. And in 1973, when I joined the NPS as a historian, I had never heard of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Cultural resource management had not yet sparked much interest within the academic world from which I had just emerged to begin a second career.
Clearly I needed training and so has everyone else who has worked for the Park Service. Little long-distance learning was available then. Most employees depended on either on-the-job guidance usually related to one’s own specialty, or, for the big picture, the hard-to-come-by chance to attend a course at Mather or Albright training centers.
I got into a three-week course — a broad introduction to the NPS — at Albright in 1976. It helped a lot, yet it did not include much analysis of cultural resource management, a topic seldom covered extensively at the time. Given the array of NPS historic preservation responsibilities, there was much I needed to learn, but no systematic “in place” learning programs were available to me.
After becoming Southwest Region’s historian in the mid-1970s, I set up an informal brown-bag learning program in my office. It was a group-mentoring effort that, because it could be taken in small doses and better absorbed over a span of time, brought more beneficial results for me than the formal training I had taken.
In the spring of 1976, I hired Dwight Pitcaithley who was finishing his doctorate in history at Texas Tech University. Not long after he arrived, Jane Scott, who had studied history at Yale and had recent experience as a seasonal interpretive ranger at Mesa Verde, began working in the Santa Fe office, first with the archeologists, then with my office.
Together, the three of us started the brown-bag discussions on topics related to the National Park Service and System. Soon we were joined by perhaps four or five co-workers, mostly archeologists. It was a completely volunteer, self-selected group; and it required individual effort. Some left while others joined us. And several stayed for the long haul. I came to realize that while one person is comfortable with learning through group discussions, another may not be.
We began by reading the NPS official Management Policies, one chapter per week, and discussing them over lunch. The policies were bureaucratic by their nature, and in no way did we become experts; but our readings and discussions on the policies revealed aspects of the Service’s operations that were valuable to us.
Once we finished the policies, we turned to articles and book chapters on national parks and related topics. Now and then we discussed broad environmental issues and natural resource management, but mainly the group focused on historic preservation policy and practice in the National Park System. We also examined historic preservation activities elsewhere around the country, including the National Register programs.
Occasionally our discussions ran over the time allotted for lunch, but not a lot. Besides, we were learning more about our work and the Park Service itself. To me, this was time well spent.
Compare the extra minutes when we ran overtime with the costs of attending formal training courses: the travel and per diem, the time away from the duty station and more. Brown-bagging is a lot cheaper, and it can often benefit from expert commentary by experienced co-workers within a park or office, perhaps even the superintendent.
These brown-bag sessions brought important long-range personal benefits, helping me gain a better grasp of the ins and outs of Park Service historic preservation policies and the laws behind them. Without a doubt, the sessions deepened my commitment to the goals of the NPS. They helped me feel that I belonged. And they helped build morale and teamwork within the office.
Adding greatly to the satisfactions my career would bring me, the brown-bag discussions, along with my other historic preservation efforts, eventually led to a number of teaching assignments at Albright and Mather training centers. This culminated in the 1980s and ’90s with about a dozen, two-week courses in cultural resource management for mid-level managers. Held at Mather Training Center, they provided a broad overview of perspectives, experiences and policies that helped sharpen the understanding of cultural resource management. I remain firmly committed to learning both at home and away. In tandem, they are especially effective.
Even today, Jane, Dwight and I are part of a small book group of friends, each of whom has had Park Service experience. Since about 2005 we have met several times per year via telephone conference calls to discuss books that relate in some way to the National Park System, providing perspectives on historical matters and the natural environment. Diverse titles have included Edward O. Wilson’s The Future of Life, Chris Hedges’ War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and William Faulkner’s The Bear (the only work of fiction).
Below is a sampling from our book group. If the list seems fairly wide ranging, keep in mind that the National Park System involves both human and natural history — it cuts a giant swath.
Think about starting a brown bag at your park or office. It might prove stimulating. If I were doing it again, I would still start with the official Management Policies, selectively perhaps, given their size. Follow that with any readings the group thinks are appropriate for its needs. Lunch, learn and enjoy!
Richard West Sellars is a retired National Park Service historian and author of Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History. He lives in Santa Fe, N.M.
Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Association of National Park Rangers.
The NPS Student Employee Network is represented on Facebook. In addition, an inaugural newsletter was published in spring 2013.