Press Releases

Thursday, April 11, 2019
No. 24


NYC Parks

Urban Parks Rangers Celebrate Connecting You to NYC Parks Since 1979

In the summer of 1979, amid a crime wave that left many City parks vulnerable to criminal activity and vandalism, NYC Parks debuted the first class of Urban Park Rangers. Founded by former Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis, who sought to deter mischief in public parks by adding a uniformed presence, the Rangers were initially intended to provide public information and administer first aid. Today, 40 years later, the Rangers continue to be a staple in our parks, and their role has evolved to connect New Yorkers with the natural world through environmental education, outdoor recreation, wildlife management and active conservation.

In celebration of this anniversary milestone, NYC Parks is kicking off a series of events tailored to highlight how Urban Park Rangers have been instrumental in propelling the public park system forward. Highlights include: the Urban Wildlife Festival on May 4 in Highbridge Park; 40 outdoor Family Camping excursions; an “Over the Hill” Hilltop hikes series showcasing some of the steepest hills in New York City parks; and the annual Raptor Fest in the fall. Also in honor of the anniversary, the Urban Park Rangers site has been updated to showcase their programming, events and history.

“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,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “Whether it’s exploration, wildlife rescue, or teaching outdoor skills, our Rangers have become symbols of knowledge and passion over the past four decades.”

“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’,” said Director of Urban Park Rangers Bonnie McGuire. “ Our job is to provide amazing, unique experiences such as canoeing, seining, overnight camping, hiking, history walks, day and night astronomy, and a host of other activities to patrons of all ages, and that’s incredibly exciting and fulfilling. We are proud that we’ve been connecting New Yorkers to the natural world and NYC Parks for 40 years!”

“Of all the new programs and initiatives that occurred during my more than 5 years as Parks Commissioner there is nothing I am more proud of than the NYC Urban Park Rangers. Over forty years, the Rangers have changed the Parks Department and changed our parks and changed how all New Yorkers understand and enjoy our public open spaces. As important as what they did when they served as Rangers is what so many of the Rangers have done to lead the Parks Department and to serve our City and its communities after they hung up their Smokey-the-Bear hats,” said former NYC Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis. “In my heart I always wanted to be and guess I always will be a NYC Parks Ranger. Truly the best and the brightest.”

Urban Park Rangers are experts and offer a wealth of knowledge about the environment, wildlife, crucial outdoor skills. Their primary responsibility is to provide environmental education, interpretation and outdoor adventure programs to New Yorkers. NYC Parks is the steward of more than 30,000 acres of parkland, including 10,000 acres of natural areas, and 2.7 million trees.

For a complete list of the Urban Park Rangers 40th anniversary events and programs, visit our Urban Park Ranger calendar here.

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