Natural Areas Rangers work in partnership with visitors and trail users by encouraging responsible use and informing visitors about the regulations necessary to protect visitor safety and ensure resource protection. While patrolling natural areas and trails, rangers monitor for vandalism and misuse of sites, respond to and assist during emergency situations, communicate information to visitors, and when necessary, issue warnings and/or citations. Rangers are trained as wildland firefighters, wilderness first responders, and have extensive training in resource education, search and rescue, ice & swift water rescue, and other ranger skills. The Natural Areas Department has seven full time rangers including a lead ranger.
Gate attendants at Soapstone Prairie and Gateway Natural Area work with rangers and provide visitor services.
The mission of the Ranger Program is to provide a safe, peaceful, and enjoyable environment for all natural area visitors and trail users, while helping to ensure the protection of natural and cultural resources.
In 1997, with the encouragement of the City's Natural Resources Advisory Board, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and volunteer Master Naturalists Program, the Natural Resources Department hired its first 2 Natural Areas and Trails Rangers. The staff has expanded to accommodate greatly increased visitor use and to patrol new natural area acquisitions.