Saturday, January 7, 2012

"We Need To Take Back The Park"

Above: A memorial to Mt. Rainier Park Ranger Margaret Anderson is set up at the visitor's center at Paradise. The display included flowers and a book for people to sign and express their thoughts.

"We Need To Take Back The Park"

by Janine Unsoeld

"It's really important to us that the park is back open and we reclaim the beauty as a place of inspiration, solitude, recreation, refuge and renewal. Those are the things that makes the park important to people," said Kevin Bacher, Mt. Rainier National Park Service public information officer, today while on duty at Longmire.

The park reopened after a week of being closed in the aftermath of the shooting death of Ranger Margaret Anderson.

On the morning of January 1, Park Ranger Anderson set up a traffic block to intercept a vehicle that failed to stop at a chain-up checkpoint. The driver, Benjamin Colton Barnes, opened fire on Anderson, killing her. The driver then fled on foot into the woods. Approximately 250 personnel were involved in the search operations. Barnes was found dead near Narada Falls on January 2.

Mount Rainier National Park closed during the hunt for the gunman, with the park evacuating park visitors to get them out of potential danger. There were 125 visitors in lock down at the Paradise Visitor Center from Sunday noon until 3:30 p.m. Monday. There were also 25 visitors at the National Park Inn at Longmire who were evacuated out of the park. Visitors had been held at these locations for their own safety.

Above: Mt. Rainier National Park Service public information officer Kevin Bacher, center, speaks with Scott Isaacson, a public information officer from Lassen Volcanic Park in Northern California today at Longmire.

Anderson worked at Mount Rainier for three years and is survived by her husband Eric, also a ranger in the park, and two young children. A memorial service to celebrate Anderson's life will be held on Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 1:00 p.m., at Pacific Lutheran University, Olson Auditorium, 12180 Park Avenue South, Tacoma.

"It's really been a hard week," Bacher continued. 'The degree to which this has been hard for our staff has been hard to express."

"We need to take back the park and make it a positive place and not let someone with an agenda to change that...Margaret deserves that," Bacher continued, clearly choking up with emotion. Bacher expressed how the park service community has come together to support Mt. Rainier National Park rangers, and indicated rangers standing nearby who have recently arrived from Yosemite and Sequoia national parks to relieve them of their responsibilities and provide support as needed.

In memory of Ranger Margaret Anderson, below is a sampling of the scenes and sheer beauty at Mt. Rainier today:

Above: Flag at half-staff in memory of Margaret Anderson at Longmire.

Above: A Cascade fox who looks like he may be used to a handout or cute as they are, do not feed the foxes!

Above: Another Cascade fox. These foxes, although different colors, belong to the same subspecies, Vulpes vulpes cascadensis.

Above: Kite flying at about 6,200 ft on Mt. Rainier.

Above: Janine skiing - Lindsay Vonn has nothing to fear.

Above: Sunset from Paradise.

Donations for the Anderson family may be sent to:

P.O. Box 159
Eatonville, WA 98328
Checks should be made out to Margaret Anderson Donation Account