New NPS chief ranger outlines goals
Another example of a non-traditional approach is the Loaner PFD Program, in which the canoe liveries donate personal floatation devices (PFDs) for the rangers to distribute. “Instead of just the enforcement action, which might involve a ticket or warning, we can also provide them the PFD so they can continue their trip. They receive some education, but also a safety device and it’s not a completely negative contact. We want to make a lasting change in behavior.”
Outreach is being expanded into communities outside the river valley to educate those who travel to the Upper Delaware. Public service announcements that cross language barriers are one vehicle, and the park service is looking into social media strategies that might include Facebook, YouTube and more in an attempt to reach younger river users. Lifesaver cards with safety messages have been created to engage the youngest visitors.
In addition to safety, enhanced resource protection is a key goal. Recent law enforcement funding of $107,000 has been approved and will be divided among townships and departments. The small NPS enforcement staff increases its capabilities by working with cooperating local law enforcement agencies as a force multiplier.
“We owe it to the fishing guides and those folks who are doing everything right with the commercial use agreements to take enforcement action on those who are trying to skirt the system and take shortcuts,” said Hinkes.
Hinkes and McGuinness met with the guides recently to talk about how to work collaboratively. One measure involves applying decals to the boats so rangers can easily recognize the guides. “It’s really nice to build those relationships so that a guide doesn’t get checked five miles downriver from where we just checked him,” said Hinkes. “We’re trying to be sensitive to the experience they’re trying to create for their client.”
Hinkes is also the team leader for the Northeast Region Special Events and Tactics Team within the NPS, and is occasionally deployed throughout the country. Last summer, he served at the Wind River Indian Reservation in Operation Alliance to reduce violent crime. He has also been detailed to Arizona related to drug interdiction on the border. The work often involves assisting other agencies. “It all goes back to building mutually respectful relationships,” he said.