The Sacramento County Regional Parks Rangers are the law enforcement division of Regional Parks, and while they work hard to keep County parks and park visitors safe, most people might not realize that’s not all they do.
The Ranger Stewardship Program is a piece of the total policing model that was introduced to Regional Parks in 2016. The goal of the program is to have Rangers do as much as they can to improve the quality of life of our park visitors and the quality of people’s park experience; create a way for our parkway visitors to get to know our Rangers; create as much public value for the Rangers and Regional Parks; and act as ambassadors while they’re out there.
“The Ranger Stewardship Program is a way for our Rangers to help improve the areas of the park in which they work every day,” said Chief Ranger Wade Derby. “Rangers are assigned to specific areas of our Regional Parks system and they are tasked with working on problem-solving, finding long- and short-term solutions to issues that go on in their areas, as well as serving as an established liaison to the stakeholders in that assigned area.”
For the Rangers, part of the liaison activity includes getting to know their stakeholders to learn what issues they are facing and how the Rangers can step in to improve the parks for the stakeholders and park users alike. Each stewardship area is unique and the Rangers who are assigned there need to get to know the stakeholders to understand the issues and opportunities specific to the areas.
“We take the broken window theory of law enforcement and apply it to the bushes,” said Derby. “They work on eco-health and environmental health as well as trail safety, public safety and crime prevention, depending on what is going on in their area.
Examples of past Ranger Stewardship projects include:
- Working with partners to prevent burglaries and theft during the busy summer recreation season when parks usually see an influx of visitors.
- Working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife during fishing seasons to protect seasonal salmon spawning, the steelhead run, etc.
- Partnering with communities that share borders with our parks on neighborhood events like National Night Out.
- Starting an Environmental Crimes Unit that works with the District Attorney’s Office and other agencies in the county, state and federal government to deal with specific issues such as pollution, poaching, illegal dumping and other environmental impact issues.
Rangers periodically rotate through different stewardship areas and learn the background and history of each area – not just in terms of criminal activity, but also the wildlife habitats and other intricacies.
The Ranger Stewardship map identifies each Ranger and the territory they cover. Rangers are available by email if you want to communicate a concern or issue or point out a problem along their section of the Parkway. To learn more about the Ranger Stewardship Program, visit the Regional Parks website.
KEN CASPARIS, SACRAMENTO COUNTY PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE, 916-874-1319