A day in the life of a state park ranger

Published on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 by Kelly Sullivan

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Ted Morris, the manager at Birch Bay State Park, has been working for Washington State Parks and Recreation since 1975. He has worked in a variety of different locations across the state throughout his career, including Deception Pass State Park, Wallace Falls State Park and Fort Simcoe State Park.

While each park is unique in location, weather, landscape and geologic features, certain tasks such as maintenance, law enforcement and park clean-up are daily jobs rangers complete across the board.

Due to political and economic factors, the nature of how these tasks are being completed is rapidly evolving. Rangers and park staff are taking on more work and learning more skills to compensate for reduced staffing and funds.

In the last five years, Washington State Parks and Recreation have been facing the worst budget cuts Morris has seen in his 37-year career. Last year alone, 40 percent of ranger staff was cut due to unmet goals projected by the state legislature.

While state parks’ fate is currently uncertain, people want and need them, Morris said. A free place to recreate is invaluable, he said.