Moraine State Park rangers serve and protect millions of visitors every year.
This fact is noted especially as the park celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Assistant park manager Brian Flores has been with Moraine for three years, and he has been working at state parks for 15 years.
“Some of the things I enjoy about the state park is the seclusion and the wilderness areas,” Flores said. “You can go and reconnect to nature and get away from people.”
Flores said the park has two salaried rangers and has some seasonal rangers and support staff.
Rangers watch over visitors through all available activities spanning all times and seasons of the year.
Flores said rangers patrol even the most remote areas, although they do rely on support staff, volunteers and park visitors to help alert them to situations or emergencies.
Though their reach is far and wide around the park, the most popular and busiest areas receive the most attention.
“For the most part, we concentrate on the main areas where most of the people are, the beaches, the cabins, the picnic areas, the marinas, and then we work our way out from there,” Flores said.
Ranger Daniel Peterson has been with DCNR for nine years and has served at Moraine for the past six months.
“I like being outside, and I like helping people,” Peterson said. “I like the size of the park because it encompasses so much that you can do a lot of different things.”
Peterson said people need to be familiar with things they can and cannot do and stay up to date on fishing, boating and hunting regulations. He said there are other areas such as cutting down trees, drones and fires that people should check with the park staff about if they are unsure about the rule.
Peterson said the rangers activate in emergency situations, such as medical emergencies, vehicle or boating accidents. He said rangers will search for anyone who gets lost in the woods.
“It's getting to be that time of year, when people start getting cabin fever, and they want to come out but they may not be prepared for the terrain and get lost,” Peterson said.
Ranger and supervisor Bryan Moore has been with Moraine for seven years, and has worked as a ranger for 22 years.
“Every day is different. Nothing is ever the same,” he said. “You come to work doing one thing, and end up doing five other things. That's what I love about it.”
Moore said Lake Arthur is one of the busiest places in the park, where people boat, fish and swim, among many other activities. He said the rangers monitor safety on the lake and have a good report with the state Fish and Boat Commission and Game Commission.
Moore said some of the more frequent checks are on boater life jackets, keeping fishermen out of restricted areas and litter.
“We deal with litter, a lot of litter. Surprisingly with today's society, we still deal with a ton of litter,” Moore said.
Moore said rangers usually ask park visitors to take home whatever they bring into the park. He said doing so keeps the park's environment healthy and clean.
He said while litter is a problem, the rangers' main emphasis is on safety.
“We don't like to nitpick the people. We like to let them recreate and have fun, but it's all about maintaining a safe environment,” Moore said.