Protecting Professionalism: ANPR Supports Decision to Acknowledge NPS Protection Rangers' Many Responsibilities

As once characterized by a former NPS Chief Ranger, the job of a National Park Service Protection Park Ranger is threefold:

  1. Protect the parks from the people;
  2. Protect the people from the people;
  3. Protect the people from the parks;

...using the lowest level of enforcement necessary to achieve these goals.

The NPS Protection Park Ranger serves as a multi-skilled guardian of our most sacred special places, and the visitors and employees who live, work and visit these natural and cultural wonders. They are more than just federal law enforcement officers, and their job series, GS 0025, was specifically developed to reflect these special requirements.

National Park Service Protection Rangers are a special breed of individual. Unlike any other federal law enforcement officer, NPS Protection Rangers not only perform the full range of professional law enforcement responsibilities, but they are also called upon to provide EMT and paramedic level emergency medical services, structural and wildland fire suppression, technical rescue in swift water and on high angle cliffs, wilderness and urban search for lost and missing individuals, natural and cultural resource protection, public health inspections, and many other duties. They are often called upon to use their interpersonal skills to prevent and stop violations of law and regulations through effective education and persuasion.

Thus, in 2019, when the NPS, in response to a Fish and Wildlife Service human resources audit, considered reclassifying all NPS protection rangers into the same series as customs and border enforcement agents. ANPR worked collaboratively with NPS management to demonstrate that narrowing protection rangers’ focus to inspection, investigation, and enforcement would be counterproductive to successfully accomplishing the NPS mission.

ANPR has been deeply involved in the evolution of the Park Ranger Protection job series over many decades. ANPR was instrumental in establishing the park rangers’ training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and also successfully advocated on behalf of protection rangers’ eligibility for 6(c) Law Enforcement Retirement. ANPR believes it is essential that law enforcement rangers be trained to a high standard and properly prepared to justly enforce the law. ANPR also believes that NPS law enforcement should be done by multi-skilled Park Protection Rangers, and that retaining them in the GS 0025 job series is essential to accomplishing the NPS mission. We are pleased to share the January 24, 2021, memo from the Acting Associate Director for Workforce and Inclusion reaffirming that position on behalf of the NPS.