Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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USACE celebrates National Park and Recreation Month

Louisville District
Published Aug. 9, 2021

July was National Park and Recreation Month – a month designed to tell the parks and recreation story and encourage the public to create their own memories. For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District celebrating National Park and Recreation Month means recognizing those who run the show at the district’s flood risk management projects.

The Louisville District flood risk management projects could not, and would not, run as successful as they do without USACE Natural Resources Specialists, most commonly known as park rangers. Rangers work day-in and day-out ensuring public safety at their projects, but they also run several different programs for local communities and visitors, manage wildlife areas stimulating growth of native species and removing invasive plant species, design visitor centers and exhibits, attend boat shows to spread the water safety message, conduct boundary inspections, host natural resources events and perform countless other duties.

The Louisville District manages 17 lakes throughout Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, and hosts an average of 15 million visitors per year. While most people enjoy the down time of summer holidays and weekends with family, park rangers spend a tremendous amount of time and effort to ensure the safety of local communities. 

“Our rangers perform thousands of boat safety inspections ensuring sufficient quantities of PFD’s (personal floatation device) are on board and, more importantly, that the PFD’s are the right size and fit,” said Jeremy Ball, Safety and Occupational Health Office Chief. “When there are issues with PFD’s, our rangers make sure the right PFD is available and even offer loaner PFD’s to our visitors. Along with boat patrols, they make thousands of contacts each year at our boat ramps, campgrounds, on the water, in the local schools, at various boat and fishing shows, local fairs and concerts, and even visit local news stations to spread our safety message.”  

Just this summer, Dan Taylor, lead park ranger at Barren River Lake, who has been with USACE for 17 years, appeared on ESPN Radio’s “SOKY Outdoors” program to discuss various topics. He also appeared on a local television station to discuss the 4th of July holiday weekend including water safety, mandatory vessel safety equipment and the fireworks show. 

“You might notice that we are staring for a few minutes, but we are basically just trying to do a quick check, as we are patrolling the lake, to make sure everyone on the vessel is following the rules,” Taylor said during his interview.

It is very common for USACE park rangers to work with local media platforms to promote events or safety messages throughout the year. Green River Lake Park Ranger Andrea Davis has already recorded six water safety public service announcements for six local radio stations this summer.

Louisville District park rangers also partner to work with local and state parks for community events. 

On June 26, Brookville Lake Park Rangers Tyler Allen and Spencer Beard attended the Canoefest Canoe Races at Brookville Lake, in Brookville, Indiana. Allen and Beard assisted with parking and event sign up. Allen also monitored the starting line to ensure sure people were properly wearing their life jackets.

“I love being on the lake and meeting new people,” Allen said. “This job never gets boring.”

When asked what their favorite part of their job was, most rangers attribute it to the fact that each day brings something new.

“When it comes to being a Park Ranger for USACE, I enjoy the diversity of the job. That diversity is shown through the natural resources we protect, the team that I work with, and the recreating public that we come in contact with that are here to enjoy the beautiful project nestled in south-central Kentucky,” Taylor said. “I get to see a lot of the project throughout the year while on patrol in the campgrounds, on the water, and with boundary line inspection. It is the diversity of the area that makes calling Barren River Lake home so gratifying.”

Many rangers also love being able to work outdoors. 

“I really enjoy the Natural Resource Management aspect of the job here and the opportunity to work out in nature,” said Wendy Clark, park ranger at Cagles Mill Lake in Poland, Indiana. “I get to play with bugs and snakes.”

Brian Menker, park ranger at C.J. Brown Dam and Reservoir in Springfield, Ohio, feels the same.

“This is a nice place to work, we have good facilities and regular lake visitors that I love to talk to,” Menker said. “I know the area so well now and love the habitat work we do.”

Often thought of as the face of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, park rangers interact with the public, along with local community leaders, stakeholders and many more. 365 days a year, Louisville District Park Rangers go above and beyond, ensuring public safety and maintaining their parks - and National Park and Recreation Month is a time to thank them for all they do. 


Chick Lock

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