Another Nasty Invasive: We are
continually battling multiflora rose here at Boxerwood and I’ll bet you are
too, maybe without even knowing it. This
rose was introduced to the eastern United States in 1866 as a rootstock for
ornamental roses. In the 1930’s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service started
using the rose for erosion control and as ‘living fences’ to control
livestock. More recently, the plant was
used on highway median strips as a crash barrier and to reduce headlight glare
(this is also how we got the notorious and ever-present Autumn Olive). Multiflora rose is an aggressive (and the key
word here is aggressive) large, multi-stemmed shrub with arching stems and
recurved thorns. Small white or pinkish flowers bloom in May and small bright
red rose hips form in late summer through winter. The tips of the canes often reach the ground
and root. Here at Boxerwood, we have had
multiflora rose climb thirty feet into trees.
Birds spread the plentiful seed everywhere.
to eradicate it? In fields, repeated
cutting or mowing at the rate of three to six times over a period of two years seems to work. For smaller infestations, late in the season, cut the plant to the ground and paint the remaining stems with a systemic glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup.
"Do You Miss Being A Park Ranger?" I get asked this question a lot and there are many aspects of the job of a National Park Ranger I do miss. What I do not miss is getting to meet people like the one described bellow that showed up at the Lodge in Crater Lake National Park.
What follows was taken from the National Park Service Morning Report and serves as an example of the types of problems park rangers have to deal with on a daily basis. It is also an example or how you never know what you will run into each day.
Crater Lake NP
Man Arrested Following Violent Disturbance At Lodge
Park dispatch was contacted by Crater Lake Lodge staff around 6
p.m. on July 10th and advised that a man was causing a disturbance at the
service bar in the Great Hall, yelling at staff and visitors.
Chief Ranger Curt Dimmick responded. While en route, he learned
that the man had begun throwing things from the bar, including pitchers of
water, a sales computer, and a credit card printer. He was subsequently
advised that the man had also struck a visitor in the head with a crutch.
As he entered the Great Hall, Dimmick saw that the man, later
identified as Donald Taylor of Medford, Oregon, was standing in front of the
bar, leaning on a crutch and yelling obscenities at two employees. Taylor
immediately turned to Dimmick, started advancing across the room with the
crutch under his arm and began yelling “I am going to [expletive] kill
you! You are going to die tonight!”
Dimmick ordered Taylor to stop and get on the floor several times
as he advanced, repeatedly yelling the same threats. When Taylor was only a few
feet away and still refusing to stop, Dimmick used his taser to put him on the
floor. Ranger John Neumann soon arrived and handcuffed him.
There were about 50 visitors and Lodge staff present during the
incident. Lodge staff had cleared most of the people from the Great Hall and
secured the doors into the restaurant just beyond the bar to provide for the
safety of guests while lodge and restaurant managers had kept Taylor occupied,
waiting for rangers to arrive.
The man who was struck in the head with the crutch was a minister
who had attempted to talk to Taylor and calm him down. When the minister spoke
to him, Taylor first tried to spit in his face and then swung his crutch at the
minister’s head. The minister ducked, but the crutch still hit the top of
his head, causing a one inch laceration and contusion. The minister
declined medical treatment.
Rangers later located Taylor’s truck, which was parked immediately
in front of the lodge in the loading zone. Inside the truck were a loaded
.22 caliber rifle and an unloaded 7 mm. rifle with two dozen rounds of
Taylor was charged with assault, resisting or impeding an officer,
disorderly conduct and vandalism. Taylor did approximately $2500 in damage to
lodge property. On July 28th, Taylor pled guilty to all charges. His
sentencing is scheduled for September 2th. He has been in jail since the
The court has already ordered him to undergo a mental health
evaluation. He told the judge he was having a bad day and had too much to drink
after learning his ex-wife was trying to get sole custody of their son.
Rangers had prior contact with Taylor. Last November, he entered
the lodge after it was closed by entering a side door that may have been left
unlocked. He spent the night with his dog in one of the lodge’s rooms, where he
was found by concessioner maintenance staff the next morning. He was cited for
trespass at the time.
Although I have been absent from this blog for some time due to my
work as Managing Director at the Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden in
Lexington, Virginia, I have been maintaining my attentiveness to what is happening
in our Parks.
I was a bit concerned or perhaps even
miffed when I discovered that the History Channel was introducing a new program
entitled “Appalachian Outlaws.” This
series focuses on the lives of ginseng hunters working in the Southern
Appalachians. I could not help but think
that this might increase the interest in “cash crops” and glorify those that pilfer
these plants that grow wild on our protected lands. I noted in the first episode of this series
that one of the featured characters led the camera crew onto US Forest Service
land to hunt ginseng illegally. In one
scene a Forest Service employee shows up and they have to run to escape. That certainly added to the excitement and
mystique of the show.
Ginseng has become hard to find in many areas. On the show one of the characters states that
this is the fault of the government putting so much land into protection as
parks and forests. During interviews
with illegal ginseng hunters that were apprehended during my career we learned
that they were moving to Virginia because you could not find ginseng in their
states any more. When asked why, their
theory was that it was all hunted out in their home areas. That is the impact on natural resources that
these activities going unchecked can produce.
There are areas where hunting and collecting of ginseng is
permitted and regulated in some instances by permits and seasons. This legal activity is acceptable and
approved by scientists and agencies. The
temptation of the money that could be made during our hard economic times fans
the flames and intent of those willing to cross the line of legality and those
forced by desperation to seek some profit.
I am not saying that what appears below is related to the new
History Channel series, but does reflect what is happening in our parks. This is an example of what is occurring and
was taken from the National Park Service Morning Report dated January 31, 2014.
Cumberland Gap NHP
Six Ginseng Poachers Successfully Prosecuted
fall ginseng season was busy at Cumberland Gap and rangers employed special
shifts and focused patrols to combat poaching within the
park. The government shutdown caused reduced staffing levels during
the peak of the season, but rangers were able to apprehend six people and
recover a total of 414 roots and one rattlesnake prior to the shutdown:
August 19 – Rangers contacted
two men on the Chadwell Gap Trail as they were about to be picked up at
the trailhead. They were found with 18 and 78 ginseng roots
respectively. Ranger Brad Cope was case agent.
September 15 – A man was
observed capturing a rattlesnake on the Highway 58 road shoulder and being
picked up by a vehicle. Rangers stopped the vehicle, contacted the
man, and discovered 11 ginseng roots in his pocket and the rattlesnake in
the trunk. The vehicle’s occupants said that they had dropped him off
at the Kentucky visitor center earlier in the day and that he had called
them to pick him up in the Virginia section of the park. Ranger Mike
Ausmus was case agent.
September 23 – Rangers received
information regarding possible digging in the Muddy Gut area of the
park. They contacted two men who were found in possession of 39 and
37 ginseng roots respectively. Several of these roots in their
possession were found to be marked with a dye and micro tags identifying
them as coming from within the park. This was the first case since the
park began its marking program in which marked ginseng was found on a
suspect, positively identifying roots as taken from the park. Ranger
Ben Byrnes was case agent.
September 26 – Rangers received
information regarding possible digging in the Old Baileytown Road area of
the park. They contacted two men who were found in possession of 115
and 116 ginseng roots respectively. Ranger Greg Johnston was case
six suspects pleaded guilty in federal court and were ordered to pay criminal
fines totaling $1,295 and civil restitution to the park totaling $6,045.
All recovered ginseng roots were inventoried and replanted in the park by
resource management personnel and will be monitored.
I recently received an email from a reader asking about who they could write to in order to recognize the good work done by a park ranger they met while on a trip to Alaska. Here is my response;
I greatly appreciate your wanting to recognize the good work done by one of the Park Rangers you met in Alaska. This does not happen enough and when it does, it can make a significantly positive impact on an individual's morale and sometimes career.
I would recommend sending your comments to two high ranking individuals;
Alaska Region Sue Masica, Regional Director National Park Service 240 West 5th Avenue, Suite 114 Anchorage, AK 99501 (907) 644-3510
Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service
Address National Park Service 1849 C Street NW Washington, DC 20240
These folks need to hear positive feedback about what their Rangers are doing in the field and will be sure to pass their appreciation back down the chain to the individual park ranger and their supervisors.
Thank you very much for your interest and support of our National Parks and the people who work to preserve them.
Bruce W. Bytnar
Author of "A Park Ranger's Life: Thirty Two Years Protecting Our National Parks"
So if you have visited a National Park and been impressed by the service, care, kindness, or knowledge shared by a park ranger, why not take a few minutes to express your appreciation in a letter or email. Just a few moments of returned kindness or compassion can make a park ranger's day.
Tragedy has stuck the wildfire community with the deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona. Not a whole lot of details are known yet, but this is reported to be the worst loss of firefighter lives since 1933.
The deaths occurred on the Yarnell Hill Fire and the crew involved was the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. The fast moving fire also caused the evacuation of an entire community and the loss of approximately 200 structures including homes.
Due to the increases in poaching pressure on wildlife in Kenya, that country is going to add 500 more park rangers to their parks. According to the below linked article, "Poachers killed 360 elephants and 19 rhinos in 2012," within Kenya's National Parks. As world economies suffer, we will see a continuing increased presence of wildlife and other resources theft with parks world wide. Meanwhile, in the United States we will be seeing fewer park rangers in our National Parks this summer due to budget constraints. That leaves us with fewer protectors of our nation's wildlife during a time when illegal taking of resources for financial gain will most likely increase. Kenya Hiring Park Rangers
On Thursday June 27 an unarmed US Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger was shot while conducting his normal daily duties of closing and area for the night. From the article you can visit below it sounds like he merely walked up to a vehicle to inform the occupant that they needed to leave for the evening so he could close a gate. The person he walked up to shot him in the abdomen.
How many times a day do park rangers and other land managers conduct "sweeps" of areas so that they can close gates at dusk. I know during my career I did this hundreds if not thousands of times.
The lesson, if there is one here, that we can all draw from this incident is that there is no such thing as routine whether you are an armed law enforcement trained park ranger, a fee collector, interpreter, biologist, or maintenance worker. If you are working with the most unpredictable creature on earth, the human, you can never know what to expect. Adding the wearing of any type of official looking uniform or vehicle and you can easily become someone's target.
Just last week I wrote about a study indicating a sharp increase in assaults and threats made against park rangers. You can read about that in the post dated June 16.
Never be complacent, in to much of a hurry, or let your guard down. Always remain alert and listen to your instincts when dealing with the public. Do not harbor the expectations that everyone out there is going to react to your presence or contact the way you would.
I doubt this Park Ranger did anything wrong. He just walked into a no win situation which looks to me to have involved a person ready to take their own life and not adverse to taking others with them. I of course do not have all the facts and am making several suppositions based on very little factual information, but can see this scenario quite clearly being possible.
To all my land management agency brothers and sisters, be careful out there and let us remember this injured fellow ranger in our thoughts and prayers. We all hope for him to have a speedy and successful recovery.