By Victoria Merlino
In the summer of 1979, crime was high, and parks were poorly maintained and considered dangerous to enter at night. Enter Former Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis. In his quest to make city parks safer, Davis created the Urban Park Rangers to provide information and first aid to park-goers.
Today, their work has expanded even further. In honor of their 40 years in service of the city, the Urban Park Rangers are hosting a series of free events across the city to celebrate the work they do now: educating, advocating and bridging the gap between cosmopolitan New Yorkers and the natural world.
“The Urban Park Rangers have spent 40 years connecting New Yorkers and visitors alike to the natural elements in our parks. Through education, they have bridged the gap between city living and the wonders of nature that can be found throughout the five boroughs,” current Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said in a statement. “Whether it’s exploration, wildlife rescue, or teaching outdoor skills, our Rangers have become symbols of knowledge and passion over the past four decades.”
In Queens, the rangers will be lead bird-watching expeditions, host a campout and astronomy session at Fort Totten and teach park-goers how to freshwater fish, among other activities. A full list can be found at nycgovparks.org/events/urbanparkrangers.
“Being a Park Ranger in New York City is one-of-a-kind job. I’ve heard alumni who have not been Rangers for 10, 20 or even 30 years exclaim, ‘it’s the best job I’ve ever had’,” Director of Urban Park Rangers Bonnie McGuire said in a statement. “We are proud that we’ve been connecting New Yorkers to the natural world and NYC Parks for 40 years!”