National Parks Rangers Being Sent To Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Amistad NRA To Help With Border Control

Teams of law enforcement rangers next week will be dispatched from around the National Park System to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona and Amistad National Recreation Area in Texas on a rotating basis to help with border control.

At a time when the National Park Service’s law enforcement ranks are stetched thin, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and as crowds are starting to arrive at parks throughout the system for summer vacations, the assignments have been ordered by the Interior Department “in support of the President’s commitment to secure the Nation’s borders.”

The deployments, outlined in a memo from R. Duane Michael, acting chief ranger for the National Park Service’s Northeast Region, came as a surprise to park advocates.

“I would want to know what are the consequences of these 14-day assignments and the added costs associated with this practice,” said Phil Francis, a Park Service veteran of more than four decades who now chairs the Coalition to Protect America’s National Park’s executive council. “If this is a new NPS responsibility, then I suggest that Congress should fund this in lieu of (the Park Service) absorbing this responsibility. In my experience, we are underfunded and this exacerbates the problem.”

This decision could have serious consequences for national parks already struggling with an 11 percent reduction in staff while also experiencing a 19 percent increase in visitation.

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