As some of you may or may not know, I work for Yellowstone Forever, the official non-profit of Yellowstone National Park. We help support all the education and research efforts that go on in the park. It's a pretty cool job, and sometimes I get to work in the park, yesterday was one of those days.
After my shift at Mammoth Hot Springs, I went and walked around for a while, picking up garbage, and taking pictures.
Here's what I got.
Yeah, we're just going to ignore the THREE signs that say DON'T APPROACH WILDLIFE.
I walked by a group of people, in uniform, and told them they were too close to the elk and that they needed to back away. One woman gave me the dirtiest look of pure disgust and "who the hell are you?"
Who am I? In uniform or not, I made a personal vow to help protect this park. If there's garbage on the ground, I pick it up. If you're doing something stupid or illegal, I'll be sure to make you aware. I don't have to be in uniform to do that. I love my park and I'll always do my part in ensuring it's longevity.
Side note: Anyone can take a photo of you doing something you shouldn't be, and give it to the National Park Service. You could have a hefty fine waiting in your mailbox when you get home. :)
Having these parks open to the public is a double edged sword. Millions of people visit Yellowstone each year, and it gets trashed, and people disrespect the animals and thermal features. However, if no one came to the park, the park wouldn't have the funding needed to stay open for visitors.
I spoke with one of the rangers yesterday, and she appreciated the help, as she was the only ranger out on duty that afternoon. There simply aren't enough rangers, and she told me they're always looking for volunteers.
We, the public, are all responsible for taking care of our nation's National Parks, not just the Park Service. Leave no trace, and lead by good example. If you've never been to Yellowstone or any other National Park before, do your research. Educate yourself about it's wonders and it's dangers. Be smart, and don't be like these people.
The Park Service is always looking for rangers. If you're interested in learning more, visit www.nps.gov