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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Frequent hiker rescues highlight need for additional Park Rangers

The four-day search and rescue of two hikers found less than a mile from their vehicles in OC's Trabuco Canyon last week has highlighted the recent significant increase in these expensive and dangerous activities. Modern Hiker has a good discussion of this issue today and LA Weekly published an article addressing this issue with some focus on City parks. Griffith Park seems to have a helicopter rescue every other week with amateur hikers going off-trail.

Earlier this week LAFD, after a third helicopter rescue above Veterans’ Park, broadcast this:
*UPDATE: Veterans Memorial Park Trailhead* LAFD helicopter hoisting uninjured boys from precarious location (2 trips w/ 3 victims each) to awaiting Fire Engine transporting to parking lot. LAFD had similar incidents last 2 weekends in nearly same location. LAFD reminds hikers to REMAIN ON TRAILS. – Erik Scott###

Calling our Mayor, CAO, City Council, Budget Chair Paul Krekorian, and Mayoral Candidates Eric Garcetti (a Parks Save signatory) and Wendy Greuel:  

If there was ever a clear argument for more Park Rangers this budget cycle, this is it.  When Park Rangers are in the field and interacting with hikers, educating hikers, and are on-site managing the sensitive resources that contain trails, the number of these types of incidents decreases. With respect to City parks in particular like Griffith, there are such few Park Rangers left right now that these parks are essentially not patrolled and are a veritable free-for all. No one is “home”, so anything goes, and this doesn’t just enable unprepared hikers but it allows vandals to damage these resources at-will.

I personally can vouch for people reaching out to resources like Rangers when they are on-site. On busy days, park neophytes who make their way into Amir’s Garden keep me from getting any work done at all with the questions about trails, preparation, distances, difficulty, wildlife, etc. And that’s A Good Thing. I answer everything and direct them to additional resources. Exactly what Park Rangers should be doing as part of their vital job duties – if we actually had any Rangers.

The bottom line is that we need a more reasonable management standard for our urban wilderness areas that is primarily proactive (Rangers, volunteers on-site) as opposed to reactive (expensive and dangerous Search & Rescue).

Time to correct this and hire more Park Rangers and a Chief Park Ranger this budget cycle.