DVIDS – News – A Day in the Life: Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers Are Like Swiss Army Knives

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CONFLUENCE, Pa. — A day in the life of a ranger isn’t like an ordinary job.

“No day is ever the same. I can’t predict what’s going to happen from one day to the next,” said Matt Balas, a Pittsburgh District Ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers. American at Youghiogheny River Lake.

Park rangers are constantly on the move, patrolling federal waters and lands on boats and trucks. On the lake, they could be inspecting a dock one minute and the next stopping a motorboat for crossing a no-wake zone at an unsafe speed. On the road, they help visitors, sometimes settle disputes between campers, help turtles and other critters cross the road, give wildlife presentations to schoolchildren and adults, and sometimes rescue abandoned animals left behind by careless owners. .

Park rangers thrive in this type of work environment, Balas said.

“We have a very, very strong team. We welcome the challenge of this variability. We can successfully handle anything that comes our way,” said Balas, who said he enjoys the excitement of every day and the occasional surprise.

Corps rangers rely on their personnel and technical skills to solve problems, much like a Swiss army knife offers a different tool for every job. For example, park rangers are resource specialists, meaning they help preserve wildlife and natural habitats around the lake. Depending on the reservoir they are working on, rangers help manage the dam and its downstream flows to meet the flow requirements of the river. In addition, they perform general maintenance and cleaning of recreation sites, and they enforce rules on the water, in campgrounds, and on hiking or biking trails around the lake.

“I like to think of us as the ‘fun’ park rangers. We’re just making sure people are safe and having fun,” said Shaylin Dresher, summer ranger at Youghiogheny.

The District of Pittsburgh operates 16 reservoirs in western Pennsylvania and a few neighboring states. The purpose of reservoirs is to reduce flood damage downstream by retaining water during heavy rains.

Each reservoir has park rangers—among other employees or work stations—providing job opportunities within an hour of most hometowns in the district. Rangers are especially busy during the summer when recreation increases. To keep up with demand, the District of Pittsburgh hires summer rangers. These temporary positions lighten the burden of full-time rangers and provide an entry point to long-term employment in the corps.

“I wanted to work at the state or federal level for the benefits,” said Dresher, a recent college graduate who said she wanted to find a job that married her love of the outdoors with the financial stability.

Working for the Body also offers low-cost health care plans, accrued vacation and sick days, and opportunities for career growth. Park rangers can move into leadership positions or change careers altogether to pursue other specialties within the corps.

“There are so many development opportunities everywhere. You never would have known until you joined,” said Julie Miller, a former park ranger at Crooked Creek Lake who now works in the district real estate department.

Full-time rangers must have a bachelor’s degree in biology, environmental science, or wildlife management. Rangers must also pass a security check, physical check and background check. Although most rangers patrol the waters, they do not need a boating license to apply for this position.

“That’s another interesting piece of this work,” Balas said. “Before becoming a ranger, I had never driven a boat. I had no boating experience. Less than a year after being hired, I received fairly extensive training.

Rangers receive a 40-hour course in boat operation, maintenance and safety. Separately, they take a training course on federal regulations, self-defense, conflict resolution, and the proper use of pepper spray. Upon graduating from “Visitor Assistance” training, rangers wear a badge and receive citation authority to enforce Title 36 laws to protect federal lands and waters.

Yet, with such a diverse background and need for diverse skills, one thing unifies nearly all rangers: their love for the outdoors.

“I love it!” said Sam Phillips, a summer ranger at Youghiogheny. “It’s outside. You are with the audience. You are on a boat. You go to campsites. This job takes you everywhere. It’s not a desk job: you won’t get this experience anywhere else.







Date taken: 08.01.2022
Date posted: 08.01.2022 13:34
Story ID: 426252
Location: CONFLUENCE, PA, USA






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