May 25th, 2000:
The Merits Of Being A Forest Ranger

Only you can prevent forest fires.
We live in a high-tech world where information moves at the speed of light. If we don’t move fast we miss out… or worse. We depend on a myriad of fancy gadgets and devices to make this complicated and challenging life a little easier. I admit that I am one of the worst offenders. I love my Palm Pilot… well… maybe not love… but I really like it. Without out my Palm I can’t remember more than a handful of phone numbers, let alone meetings or important tasks. However, there is an alternative. We can throw it all away and become forest rangers! Imagine being surrounded by nature. The nearest human being is hours away. You’re all alone in a tall watch tower. You pass the hours by betting yourself that you can hock a loogie on “that big leaf over there” when suddenly… a squirrel runs across the clearing. Whew! That was a close one! Day in and day out you monitor the moisture levels in the area. As spring ends and summer begins the forest starts to dry out. Uh-oh… you’d better release a flash fire warning!
Forest Ranger... mmmm.
As you walk back to your office you hear a rustle in the trees behind you. Shrugging the noise off you continue onward… it’s just another squirrel, right? Wrong! An eight foot grizzly bear lunges at you from the brush. You think to yourself, “That’s awfully uncharacteristic of a bear…” as you simultaneously wet yourself. You turn and take two steps before you remember what you learned in ranger school… play dead. Your body goes limp and you fall to the ground. Slowly, you look around you and see no sign of the bear. A quick scan of the area indicates that the bear must have been just as frightened as you… a trail has been cleared by the fleeing animal. Whew… another story to share with the others… when you see them. Finally, you arrive at your post. After changing you pants, you settle down to write your report and issue the flash fire watch. You boot your computer and check your e-mail to make sure there are no other outstanding issues. The weather forecast is promising with a strong storm front moving in for the weekend. After finishing your report you e-mail it to the district office and submit your warning. Before you forget, enter a reminder into your Palm Pilot to remind you to order a book from Amazon.com about bear behavior. As your day ends you sit in front of a small campfire and sip hot cocoa. Isn’t it nice to not have to deal with all of the technology of the digital age… hey, wait a minute!
Further information and related links: Forest Ranger Job Overview
Forest Ranger School

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