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Conflicting info from rangers

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Conflicting info from rangers

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:07 pm

Has anyone ever experienced conflicting info from rangers in the parks?

I have at times corrected a ranger in the wilderness office in Yosemite. Had one give me incorrect information during the "lecture."

I've also had a friend tell me a ranger told her that there are no group size limits on front country trails. (WHAT is a front country trail????) The group limit posted in the trip planner on the SEKI page is 15.

I know that not all rangers working in the park are the law enforcement kind... however, one would hope that they would know the basics when they are operating in a position where they really should know them well enough to inform the public???



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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby sparky » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:25 pm

I have had one ranger in kings canyon tell me to burn my trash.

I have been told by inyo rangers bear cannisters were required in areas they werent required.

Perhaps "front country" means day hiking??
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby balzaccom » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:53 pm

Not surprising, when you figure that Rangers are supposed to be experts on everything...but rarely are. Some are better at natural history, others at law enforcement...

And they rotate positions. I've frequently seen a Ranger turn and ask his/her colleague for the latest ( or correct ) information in response to a question.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby sparky » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:10 pm

I really don't want to start bashing rangers, that isn't my intent at all. I really don't expect them to be infallible robots with all the correct information. They are human beings with a job, they have good days and bad days like the rest of us.

Saying that.... ](*,) Me getting a permit for Goodale Creek was an exersize in futility. No body in the office knew what to do. I asked several times to just put my intended route in the comments section but he didn't do it, and just gave me a permit for taboose pass. Apparently they don't know what to do when your starting point is off trail.

I appreciate the jobs of rangers. They have to deal with the public....and we all know they have to assume everyone is the lowest common denominator....just like any public servant they deal with idiots on a daily basis....and jerks like me #-o

Thank you to all you rangers out there :partyman:
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby austex » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:40 pm

Saying that.... ](*,) Me getting a permit for Goodale Creek was an exercise in futility. No body in the office knew what to do. I asked several times to just put my intended route in the comments section but he didn't do it, and just gave me a permit for taboose pass. Apparently they don't know what to do when your starting point is off trail.
What do they do when you start from other than an established trailhead like North Lake or Sabrina if you use 4wd to get to the wilderness boundary between the two and enter there on foot like at the headwaters of Baker Creek. Out of what daily quota is it subtracted from?
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:44 pm

Bashing rangers isn't the purpose here.

It's just really confusing that I can't get a straight answer - I call and the person on the phone doesn't know. I call again and get through to the wilderness office, and get an answer. I get to the wilderness office in person and get - a different answer.

Nowhere on the nps website do I see an answer on what a "frontcountry trail" is. Front country is typically campgrounds, roads, visitor centers, etc. Or so I've been led to believe. So a ranger talking about front country trails makes no real sense to me.

When I started working in civil service, I got multiple trainings and everything related to the regs is online on a website accessible by employees. I'd suppose the same to be the case of federal park employees. It doesn't seem to be the case.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby oldranger » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:10 pm

Ok folks,

here is my take: The further away you get from the "backcountry/wilderness" the less representatives of the NPS, Forest Service, BLM or other responsible land management area will know about conditions and regulations in a particular area. The local backcountry/wilderness ranger will probably have the regs for that particular area down cold and maybe because of specific knowledge of the area will sometimes cut a little slack (e.g. in my day in some areas where campsites were far and few between I would fudge on the 50 ft (at that time) campers must be from the water.) Given my specific knowlege of the conditions I would also at times ask stock parties not to use a particular area due to the fact that it had already been heavily used that season. I would make it clear that they could legally use the area but that it would be better for the resource and probably better for their animals if they used an alternative location.

The next best source of information are the trailhead rangers that are actually located at or near the trailhead. The best example is the Roads End rangers at Cedar Grove. My experience with the Tuolumne Meadows rangers has been pretty positive. An exception to this was our experience last summer at the Clover Meadow Guard Station when getting a permit for Ansel Adams wilderness. But that was unusual. The issuer was a volunteer and had never issue a permit for a "Spot Trip stock party." But he was doing his best and with my guidance was able to figure it out.

Now if you are getting permits at more distant location getting good information becomes more and more problematic. This is because the duties of the contact person include much more than issuing wilderness permits. Last May it was only Markskor's cool head that probably saved me from losing it when 1. We couldn't get a wilderness permit for going into Yosemite because the forest service employ with the authority to issue such a permit was on her days off and the uniformed NPS person in the visitor was not delegated to issue such permits (as I recall an NPS person at the Mono Lake visitor Center issued me a permit for entering Yosemite from Saddlebag Lake a few years ago, but I could be wrong). 2. Then the NPS person knew absolutely new absolutely nothing about the backcountry but could describe all the roadside attractions in Yosemite.

My suggestion is that you are best served to get on line and read the regs carefully and note which ones apply to the area you will visit. Also if something seems not right ask them to "look it up" a good contact person will go to that effort without you having to ask but not all public employees are as helpful as they should be. I always ask if the person has actually been to the area I am going as well.

Finally in Forest Service offices the person you talk to is not a ranger and few of them actually get into the field. Finally remember everyone makes a mistake now and then (even me :rolleyes: ) so give them a break (neglect the fact that I got really pissed when ignorance reigned last may and remember I did remain in control when the gentleman at Clovermeadow was ignorant but trying hard to make things work).

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:26 pm

Most of my trips involve such a large area passing between multiple agencies that I don't expect any of them to know all the regulations but I think they should know their local ones. Back in 2010 I took a pole to fish for the 71 days I was out. It was the first time I had ever really fished the backcountry so I asked the Ranger in Yosemite issuing the permit if there were any regulations I needed to know and he said there were none. Really? I mean none!? Maybe there isn't as I still don't know but i'm sure there is something I needed to know such as if it's ok to used barbed hooks or not.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:01 am

oldranger wrote:Ok folks,

here is my take: The further away you get from the "backcountry/wilderness" the less representatives of the NPS, Forest Service, BLM or other responsible land management area will know about conditions and regulations in a particular area. The local backcountry/wilderness ranger will probably have the regs for that particular area down cold and maybe because of specific knowledge of the area will sometimes cut a little slack (e.g. in my day in some areas where campsites were far and few between I would fudge on the 50 ft (at that time) campers must be from the water.) Given my specific knowlege of the conditions I would also at times ask stock parties not to use a particular area due to the fact that it had already been heavily used that season. I would make it clear that they could legally use the area but that it would be better for the resource and probably better for their animals if they used an alternative location.


I think I haven't been specific enough, or you're misunderstanding the nature of the problem.

I'm talking about the basics that all rangers in, say, Yosemite, should know. Food storage rules. Minimum impact rules. Party size.

I'm talking about calling the Wawona wilderness office - then getting to the desk and getting conflicting ((((basic)))) information.

Group sizes are *always* the same no matter where in the park you are.

If we are expected to follow these *basic* rules why aren't they consistently presented????
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby oldranger » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:33 am

AlmostThere

I stand by my answer: Note:
Also if something seems not right ask them to "look it up" a good contact person will go to that effort without you having to ask but not all public employees are as helpful as they should be.


This can apply even to "Wilderness Office Staff." When I was a BC ranger at SEKI I gave the people at the Visitor Center a one page simple guide for issuing permits into the Sugarloaf/Roaring River area because visitors I contacted were given incorrect information. Some people behind the desk either did not read the info or didn't pay attention. As a result people would violate regulations, clearly stated, but not made clear by some office staff. There were cases where staff wrote permits for activities that were clearly violation of published regs and that were important for protecting the resource. This was not due to lack of training or access to the knowledge but just careless work by the official involved.

I think, and follow, that the best policy is to do an online search of the regs for any area that you plan on entering when planning your trip.

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby markskor » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:46 am

Rangers - conflicted?
I regularly hike with one of the best (or once was...) and have discovered that one Ranger in particular is seriously conflicted.

On another note, having spent a little time in Yosemite, a big shout out for the Tuolumne Ranger crew. A trailhead hub, hundreds come through that shack daily during the summer season. Greg in particular does an amazing job running the desk, picking/training individuals who: 1) know the backcountry, and 2) have the "right stuff", able to interact with novices and pros, treating all with courtesy, speed, and tact - fricking amazing. The permit process, dealing with the bureaucracy, the same questions too-oft repeated...what a thankless job done well here - indeed seasoned warriors. Quite the opposite in the Valley, where depending on the time of day, you are just as likely to encounter clueless rookies, many never getting out to, or off of, most wilderness trails, or if you get lucky, a weathered vet...or someone in between. As for your question about who answers the phones in Wawona – probably the same crap shoot. Ask for a permit to Edna, Adair, or Bench Canyon and the odds are 50/50 whether you get a clueless stare or a smile of envy.

Thankfully, all the backcountry Rangers, those who are long-time wilderness-stationed seem to know their stuff. Two areas of expertise here – cars/ trailhead/ crowd control vs. backcountry expertise…few have both areas covered.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby ndwoods » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:50 am

I almost always get exactly the help I need, or an honest "I don't know" which I appreciate.

One time....we went to a ranger station to get our permit. An elderly gal finding out our route said be very careful, "the creek" was running high, and she looked a little worried about us when she said it. Then another gal came in ....a younger native american gal and with a smirk told us no problem with the creek. I scratched my head over the smirk but dismissed it. We spent almost 3 days of 4 getting to the creek. It was a loop and after the creek we would be back to the car shortly. The creek was a raging river about 50 feet across...this could never be classified as a creek even in a drought year! It was about 15 ft deep and frothing wild white water that I wouldn't have kayaked! There had been a huge cement bridge you could drive a car across that had been washed out 2-3 years previously. After cursing the gal with the smirk, we turned and hightailed it back 3 days worth in 1 day! The elderly gal obviously probably didn't get out much anymore and was probably a volunteer. The other gal? Just plain mean....:(
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