Program seeks young park ambassadors Rangers turn away the curious

jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.comOctober 13, 2013 

The entrance gates at Mount Rainier National Park have been closed since Oct. 1.

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

The State Parks and Recreation Commission is urging eligible young people to apply to the America’s State Parks Ambassador Program, a nonprofit organization promoting the value and beauty of state park systems across the country.

Young adults between the ages of 16-28, who enjoy the outdoors and like to write, blog, take photos or videos and use social media, are eligible to apply.

The ambassador program is a youth-led movement started in 2010 to promote and support the state park systems nationwide, to encourage healthy active outdoor lifestyles, connect people to nature and increase public awareness about the value of nearly 8,000 “close to home” state parks all over the country, according to a news release from America’s State Parks.

The program is looking for young adults who are passionate about parks and want to help promote the special recreational, historic and natural values of state parks by sharing their own personal experiences in state parks. Participants use the program’s website and social media tools to communicate their passion for state parks.

For detailed information, prize qualifications and program application, go to americasstateparks.org/ recruit-ambassadors.

Yes, Mount Rainier National Park is closed.

That was the message from chief ranger Chuck Young when asked if people are trying to get into the park.

“We are getting at least a few people per day coming in past closed signs and gates that we’ve had to turn around. The numbers increase considerably on the weekends,” he said.

Young is among the 30 or so staffers not on furlough, heading the incident command team that is running the park.

Most people rangers are turning around understand the circumstances and that rangers are just doing their jobs in enforcing the closure, he said.

“But we are definitely hearing the frustration in the public not being able to visit their parks,” he added.

Many people coming to the entrances are curious to see if the park is indeed closed, and whether anyone is around to enforce the closure.

The answer, Young said, is yes.

“We have minimal staff on daily to keep facilities secure and infrastructure and utility systems from failing,” he said.

“We would be hard-pressed to deal effectively with an injury, car accident, or search-and-rescue emergency now with the minimal staffing we have scattered throughout the park.”

Jeffrey P. Mayor, jeff.mayor@thenewstribune.com

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