Where to begin?
I started this blog entry and couldn’t figure out where to go with it. There are a few issues facing our public lands and resources right now that are weighing on my mind. They are very polarizing and contentious, depressing, oftentimes political, and worrysome (at least to me).
The first (of many) are the debates and policies of ‘predator control’ in Alaska. Every news story you read gives different ‘facts’ and opinions. Same with people who actually have a stake on the land up there – different opinions, different facts, different values and different reactions.
Some people might focus on the animals themselves and ecosystem processes. Some folks might look at tourism aspects and profitibility. Others might look for political gain or status. And still others might consider their own lifestyle or the subsistence needs of local residents.
The ‘sides’ of the arguement go on and on.
As a park ranger, I’m asked to present multiple sides of each issue to park visitors. Give our visitors as much information as they can process and let them come to their own conclusions. While those ‘predator control’ issues in Alaska may not be directly affecting Rainier at this moment, they are affecting me. At least on some emotional level. I’m struggling to understand the facts of the issue – from more than one perspective.
I’m not a resident of Alaska (obviously), but I have spent more time up there than the average tourist. In fact, I spent my time up there STUDYING the ‘average’ tourist – in three distinct areas of Alaska with three different ‘types’ of tourists. Outside of the research, I loved the little dry cabins that I called ‘home’. I learned that wild blueberries and cranberries taste better than any berry you can buy from any store. I figured out that, at least on some level, I yearn for the subsistence lifestyle. And, although I knew this before spending time up there (my time in Alaska merely reinforced what I already knew to be true), wide open spaces, big animals and the tiniest plants on the arctic tundra can capture your imagination like very few other things in our modern world.
Spring is trying to take hold here at Rainier, despite the fact that we still have 14 feet of snow on the ground at Paradise. It’s been sunny and beautiful here today, and even though I have a few things on the work agenda for today (which I did finish!), my mind has been a thousand plus miles north of here.
PS – Throughout the past 14 months at Rainier, I was classified as an intern/volunteer. As of March 28, I was offered (and accepted) a paid ranger position at Rainier for this 2010 season. Most of my official uniform parts are still on order and haven’t arrived at the park. However, I have the basics and today was my first day in ‘the grey and green’ as they say it. Fawn (the boss) said I wore it well. Pictures tomorrow! (Won’t my mommy be proud?!)