Television shows love to portray park rangers as fit and polite, beaming dazzling smiles, displaying knowledge that knows no bounds, nerves of steel, and with dashing personalities. And then there are the realities, as Andrea Lankford describes in her latest book, Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks.
Part of FDR's "New Deal," the Blue Ridge Parkway was envisioned as an economic development tool that would pump both life and dollars into the Appalachian Mountain Range between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. But the long and winding road with the fantastic vistas also took a good deal of life out of the landscape as farms that stood in the path were razed and the families moved off.
I remember clearly hurrying to the Yellowstone River after finishing a shift as a seasonal ranger with fly rod in hand. I would rent a rowboat from the Fishing Bridge boat dock and row downstream a bit to clear the lines of the people fishing from the bridge. And then I would begin to cast — not too skillfully I might add — and catch a cutthroat on every second or third cast. It was absolutely the best fishing in the world.
U.S. 89 is a relatively narrow thread of pavement that wends its way 1,600 miles from Glacier National Park in northern Montana to Tumacacori National Historical Park in southern Arizona. Along the way, it passes through five states, past seven units of the National Park System, and through thousands of years of human experience. Ann Torrence captures this sliver of history in words and photographs in a story that is decided off the racetrack known as the interstate highway system.
A solitary journey into the vast Gates of the Arctic wilderness provided just the right surroundings for Bill Sherwonit to reflect on his life journey and his particular way of thinking about wilderness, wildness, and himself.
With all the electronic gadgetry that exists -- cell phones, GPS units, personal locator beacons -- why bother learning how to navigate like pathfinders of the last century, with map and compass? Well, for starters you won't worry about your batteries failing you.
"Repairing Paradise." That's a somewhat inauspicious title for a book that examines how to restore natural settings in the national parks. But in light of many scenarios that are playing out across the National Park System -- from parks being overrun by elk, deer, and even people to ecosystem subterfuge -- repairs are exactly what need to be made.