Park Users Beware: Severely Reduced Ranger Coverage


Last updated 7/2/2018 at 9:52am

In the June 17 issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reporter Harry Jones wrote that after contacting former employees, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (the largest in the State) has a severe staffing shortage that according to previous Park Superintendent Mark Jorgenson will have a very negative outcome: “People will die,” he said.

There are only four rangers now patrolling the 1,000 square-mile ABDSP, and no supervising ranger or park superintendent. There were up until recently 8-10 rangers on staff plus a supervising ranger plus a park superintendent.

“There is no doubt in my mind that people will get themselves in trouble out there in the desert this summer,” Jorgenson said to the U-T. “Under a full staff, you would have people patrolling the entire park by vehicle and aircraft. They are the ones that discover people in trouble.”

Also weighing in was former Colorado Desert District Superintendent Mike Wells, who once oversaw operations at ABDSP. “During that time, we had nine patrol rangers and two seasonal rangers assigned to patrol (specific districts) in the park,” Wells said. “There were two supervising rangers, a chief ranger and an area manager. They were all peace officers. There were 14 ‘badged’ employees there. And I’m guessing that the visitation was well less than half of what we’re getting now.”

Up in Sacramento, arrangements have been made for four newly graduated officers to join the Anza-Borrego staff, but not until sometime in the fall. And the proposed FY-2019 State budget includes funding for 54 new peace officers.

How many rangers will be working in ABDSP come the start of the tourist season in September? When will the new officers budgeted in the coming fiscal year arrive to help fill in the void? The answers to those questions are anyone’s guess.