Saturday, September 22, 2007

Home on the Range with Action Jackson

Muggs over at Yellowstone Park News has featured a story from the New West about former Yellowstone seasonal backcountry ranger Bob "Action" Jackson. Jackson worked for over 30 years as a backcountry ranger in Yellowstone's Thorofare district. Here Jackson describes why he decided to stay a seasonal ranger and not go permanent:

My dual career in bison and backcountry rangering happened because of one defining incident early on. I saw my retiring district ranger boss, at the acknowledged pinnacle of rangerdom, steal a big box of toilet paper as his very last official act in Yellowstone. This was a sturdy, tall, deep-voiced and well measured man, the type of ranger tourists imagined. He had spent his life as a ranger at the envied Big Five of Western national parks and it was the life I strived for upon coming to Yellowstone. As I watched this empty shell of a man struggle to get his long arms around the taxpayers’ 128 rolls of wipe so he could put it in the back of his station wagon, I knew then and there I didn’t want a career that ended on a toilet seat.
Jackson was considered to be an exceptional ranger by his supervisors, until he caught the media's attention with his adept skills at catching elk poachers. Apparently, Jackson went blabbing his mouth to the press about the local hunting outfitters unethical practice of salting National Forest lands just outside the park boundary to lure in elk for high paying clients to shoot. Park management, worried about negative media attention forced Jackson to sign an illegal gag order and terminated his seasonal employment before the fall hunting season.

Extensive details of the incident can be found in Thunderbear's December 2001 article The Seasonal Who Cried Salt. A follow-up on the fallout over the incident can be found in Thunderbear's November 2002 article Hell Hath No Fury.

Were glad to see that Ranger Jackson has found a career that won't end on a toilet seat. It's too bad the National Park Service doesn't reward these kind of employees, instead of punish them.

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