World Ranger Day – interviews with six BC Parks rangers
Park rangers are directly responsible for delivering services that support the public’s use of the park system and protecting park values. To showcase the diversity and breadth of work park rangers do, we asked six rangers from across B.C. to share their experiences.
Thompson Cariboo: Rae
I started my career as a backcountry ranger in 2009 in Manning Park, was the Kootenay Lake ranger from 2010-2012, the Moberly Lake ranger in 2013, and the senior park ranger for the Bella Coola area from 2014 -2016. In 2017, I took on the recreation services officer position for the Kootenay Okanagan until 2020, then returned to the Bella Coola valley as the area supervisor. My favourite part of the job is the meaningful partnerships with First Nations that I am a part of. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. I’ve initiated and supported projects like rehabilitating parts of the culturally significant Grease Trail in Tweedsmuir South Park where it runs through both Nuxalk and Ulkatcho Territory. I also had the aging day use cabin at the community ski hill in Tweedsmuir South replaced with a new facility that the skiers love. This year, I created a petroglyphs committee with Nuxalk Nation Guardians, Ancestral Governance, Copper Sun, Nunumus, BC Parks, Nuxalk Health and Wellness, and the Lands Department within the Nuxalk Nation to address improvements related to safety and conservancy management to ensure everything is done respectfully. Since the Central Coast area supervisor position has been mostly vacant for several years, I do the bulk of the work for that area as well.
North Coast Skeena: Curtis
In the past year working as the North Tweedsmuir senior park ranger, my job has included quite a variety of projects. Some of my primary duties include trail and facility maintenance, facility construction and park patrols. One highlight has been backcountry hunting checks via floatplane to ensure compliance with hunting regulations. My favorite park to work in is Nanika-Kidprice Park, which highlights four lakes connected by portage trails. Its setting in the edge of the coastal mountains along with the diversity of wildlife in the area make it a place I always look forward to returning to. I have enjoyed being a part of the Whitebark pine conservation project and collaborating with local First Nations on projects in North Tweedsmuir Park. It has been a privilege to work in this awesome part of the province and I am looking forward to another great season.
South Coast: Rebecca
I’m a recreation services officer (RSO) and hold park ranger designation. I have been in this role for 1.5 years. I am responsible for coordinating, managing, and administering park operator (PO) agreements within the Lower Mainland. Park operators are private contractors who typically manage front country campgrounds. My role comprises of monitoring, evaluating, and managing PO performance, annual operating plans, and quality control plans just to name a few.
I also lead the negotiation, development, and writing of the PO agreement amendments- working closely with the section head and teams within BC Parks headquarters. One of my main tasks is to facilitate communications between BC Parks staff, both regionally and at headquarters and the park operators. Overall, I ensure compliance with PO agreement terms and conditions, and lead the identification of contractual non-compliance.
Omineca Peace: Andrew
I’ve been a park ranger since 2008. I worked in Mount Robson for part of a season, then spent the rest of my time in the Omineca region supporting the Upper Fraser Area (East and West of Prince George). As a park ranger, I do a large variety of work, including conservation, Indigenous relations, compliance and enforcement, outreach, and construction and maintenance work. Recently, I did a site visit with a Lheidli T’enneh representative for a near future cabin replacement Sugarbowl-Grizzly Den Park. There was an archaeological assessor onsite as well looking at the location and collecting field notes for the archaeological assessment. Lheidli T’enneh representative will report back to chief and council on the findings.
The last two years, I assisted UNBC graduate students who were researching burbot populations. We did live trapping of burbot at a depth no deeper than 10 metres. Once a burbot was caught, we weighed, measured, and tagged it before releasing them back into the lake. In the future, if an angler catches a tagged burbot, they can report back on its size and where it was caught using the tags instructions. Our student rangers and Upper Fraser team recently moved an existing raised outhouse over a new 10-foot-deep hole we dug in Kakwa Park, and we will be building a new cooking shelter for tent campers at Raven Lake soon. I occasionally help staff information and outreach booths at community events and participate in filming videos with Jerry the Moose (our mascot). A part of my job is doing compliance and enforcement work. In the winter, we do snowmobile patrols in Kakwa Park, which involves looking at the Off-road Vehicle Act and checking the registrations of snowmobiles. Summer sees us doing compliance checks and visitor education in campgrounds for Bare Campsites to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
Kootenay Okanagan: Robyn
I am the area supervisor in the Kootenay Lake area. I work on trail and facility projects- anything from cabin upgrades to trail improvements. I absolutely love completing challenging, often remote, projects. Some of my most memorable projects have been pit toilet installations/maintenance, building tent pads in Mount Assiniboine Park, and clearing the Early Grey Trail in Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park. I also work with biologists on conservation projects. These have included alpine plant inventories, collaring goats in Valhalla Park, and completing bat surveys. Before each major project, I complete an impact assessment to minimize impacts to values at the project site. I am also heavily involved in project contract procurement, budgeting, etc.
I collaborate with other organizations to protect and improve parks. I have many cherished memories working with the BC Wildfire Service in the East Kootenays to FireSmart ranger cabins and clear trails. Spreading park love through community involvement is another part of my job. I enjoy working with our local volunteer groups and organizing/attending community events such as Kokanee Glacier’s 100-year anniversary, Critter Day at Beaver Creek, and Toad Fest at Summit Lake!
West Coast: Derek
I was fortunate to be born into the life of a park ranger. My parents met while working for BC Parks in Manning Park and they passionately shared their wonder of our natural environment. While still in high school, I was the first ranger to patrol Eskers Park. I was blessed to work with some awesome individuals improving accessibility on the portage trail system within Bowron Lakes before settling in at the Hemp Creek ranger residence in Wells Gray for much of the 1990s. Moving to the Kamloops area, I had the opportunity to really hone my public relations/compliance and enforcement skills on Shuswap Lake while beginning to better understand powerful Indigenous history working with the Stein wardens. Along the way, I even managed to marry a park ranger who continues to inspire me. Our careers brought us to Vancouver Island where she manages Strathcona Park, and I continue to work with amazing people on fantastic smaller islands. The passion that residents have for the islands’ protected areas continually motivates me and helps remind me that the work we do matters.
One of my favorite things about working for BC Parks is the diversity we experience. On Hornby Island, I have been fortunate to be involved in an ongoing ecological restoration project restoring coastal bluff ecosystems within Helliwell Park. Along with the conservation values being protected, the project provides opportunity for park users to further understand sensitive park values improving recreational compliance. I believe part of our job is to help people understand the values of our natural spaces, inspiring others to recreate responsibly. I am also super lucky to be part of a property acquisition adjacent to Tribune Bay, working to enhance public recreational opportunities while protecting important ecological and cultural values. Protecting opportunities for future generations truly does bring a smile to my face. It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows, but the people, vision, mission, and awe-inspiring locations has sure made it an enjoyable ride.