What Does it Take to be a Forest Ranger Today?


One of my favorite bloggers, Bill Gabbert at Wildfiretoday.com, posted this 1925 civil service exam for the position of “Forest Ranger.”

I did disturbingly well on the test, suggesting that my 1970s OSU forestry education was up-to-date — for 1925.

What would you like to see today’s “forest ranger” applicants asked?

4 thoughts on “What Does it Take to be a Forest Ranger Today?”

  1. Can you drive a green truck? If yes, that makes you a “Ranger”, in the public’s eye. *smirk*

    Another question might be: Are you willing to achieve a 4-year degree, work for many years as a temporary employee, then hope that someone dies so you can take over their permanent position as a “Forest Ranger”?

  2. The 1907 “Use Book” listed being able to speak Spanish if you were to be a Ranger in New Mexico or Arizona. And, the USFS had all their signage printed in both English and Spanish for those two states.

    But the most glaring difference from those days to today is that the Ranger had to own his own horses, tack, and if needed, boat. Then he had to be rigorously healthy and fit, and well versed in the construction arts using native materials, able to get along with the locals, and be competent in his filing of reports and other documents. A far cry from today when the USFS you see is someone with their butt on backwards waddling towards the mic to give their learned information on the conditions on the firelines. Or whatever event is being covered by the press release printers and the compliant spokesperson recorders. I am sorry, but morbidly obese is not what the USFS was about in its beginning. It was a long day, a short night, and both piled end to end for as long as the snow wasn’t flying and the trails were passable. Time off was plentiful in winter, and sometimes the Ranger was able to move to town for the winter so that his kids could attend school and food was handy and easy to procure.

    Years ago I bought a ranger sale of some blowdown and bug kill on the Sweet Home RD of the Willamette. The Ranger had me in for my prelogging meeting and she was more than 9 months preggers. She had a cot in her office and spent the whole meeting on it. She was huge and uncomfortable, which was entirely understandable. There was no dilly dally to that prelog meeting. We went over the issues, quickly, all got solved, and we were done. I will forever admire that woman for being true to the job as it was described in the early Use Books. The had the “right stuff” to be a Ranger on a GS 13 RD.

    So I guess the prospective Rangers need to be asked what their body mass index is. Can you run the FFT2, SRB course with a pack in the time allotted? Will you live within a few miles of the RD? How much time will you commit to being a community leader and part of the RD’s community outside the USFS? Will you make a concerted effort to live up the precepts of multiple use, conservation, and species protections no matter the pressure from any group? Are you applying for this job solely as a stepping stone for promotion or are you sincerely interested in being the best Ranger “Scab Rock” has ever had?

  3. “She had the right stuff……” automatic fingers don’t always meet with my eyes and thoughts…..sorry….


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