Urban Park Rangers
Park rangers in New York City?
It may sound crazy, but it's true. The Urban Park Rangers have been protecting the parks and educating the public about New York City's natural resources since 1979. And with New York City's green space now totaling over 28,000 acres, the presence of Park Rangers in city parks is more important than ever.
Most people probably associate park rangers with snow covered mountain peaks and roaming herds of large, furry animals. The truth is, park rangers are necessary wherever important plant and animal life need protecting. Protecting New York City's natural spaces is the Urban Park Rangers' most important priority, especially in our crowded city of 8 million people.
The m ost direct way to protect the environment is to patrol the parks. But patrolling is only half the job of an Urban Park Ranger. The other half is educating the public. What about? Nature, of course! Urban Park Rangers teach natural and cultural history to children, lead guided nature walks to adults, hike and canoe with the adventurous, and bird watch with the curious. The Rangers offer opportunities for New Yorkers to get outside and discover nature almost every day. All these fun, outdoor activities are our way of passing on the responsibility of respecting and protecting nature to you, the public.
So the next time you see an Urban Park Ranger in a New York City park, don't be shy, ask them where the best place to bird watch is, and what children's programs are running over the weekend. Stop by one of our 12 Nature Centers and pick up a calendar of Ranger events. You can also call 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK from outside NYC) and request information about what is going on in your borough. You never know, you may find yourself paddling the Bronx River in a canoe, planting flowers in a garden in Brooklyn, rock climbing in Manhattan, or trapping turtles in Staten Island.
19 August 1979, New York Times, pg. 31:
NEW URBAN RANGERS
A FORCE FOR ORDER
Group of 110 Assists the Public
and Watches for Vandalism
at 5 Major City Parks
They have been taken for Boy Scouts because of their uniforms, teasingly referred to on their rounds as "Smokey Bear" and have even been mistaken as members of a border patrol unit from Mexico.
But the 110 men and women in gray shirts, green pants and big hats in the parks this summer are New York's version of National Park Service Rangers.
Since June 4, these New York Urban Rangers have been leading tours in the parks, giving first aid and watching for vandalism and other abuses, all as part of an experiment that the city's Department of Parks and Recreation hopes to make permanent.
"All reports I've received so far are very positive," said Wayne Curtis, the 26-year-old director of the program.