Ranger Qualifications

The following description of forest ranger qualifications is taken from "The Statesmanship of Forestry" by Arthur W. Page (The World's Work, January 1908, p. 9757).

The "Use Book," which is a kind of Bible for the Service, gives the following qualifications for the position of ranger. The applicant must be:

"thoroughly sound and able-bodied, capable of enduring hardships and of performing severe labor under trying conditions. He must be able to take care of himself and his horse in regions remote from settlement and supplies. He must be able to build trails and cabins, ride, pack, and deal tactfully with all classes of people. He must know something of land surveying, estimating and scaling timber, logging, land laws, mining, and the live-stock business.

"On some forests the ranger must be a specialist in one or more of these lines of work. Thorough familiarity with the region in which he seeks employment, including its geography and its forest and industrial conditions, is usually demanded although lack of this may be supplied by experience in similar regions. Invalids seeking light out-of-doors employment need not apply. Experience, not book education, is sought, although ability to make simple maps and write intelligent reports upon ordinary forest business is essential.

"For duty in Arizona and New Mexico the ranger must know enough Spanish to conduct forest business with Mexicans."

The extraordinary thing is that most of the rangers have these accomplishments. As versatile as " 'Er Majesty's Jollies," they can fill any position, from diplomat to cook. And in all its fulness, the "Use Book" does not tell half the things a ranger must do. It does not mention fighting fire hour after hour without food or water, nor swimming the raging flood of a Western river, nor smiling into the barrel of a loaded gun in the hands of a crazy man, while a comrade slips around through the brush to disarm the lunatic; yet those things and many more fall to the ranger's lot. There are eleven of them who do nothing but hunt wolves. One not long ago followed for three days the trail of an old bear that had been killing stock. When finally caught it showed fight, and died with fourteen bullets in it, less than six feet from the ranger. It weighed 800 pounds. The rangers have that perfect control of horse and gun and the mastery of natural obstacles which were the pride of the "cow-puncher"; and the same keen sense of humor. And they are men of character. There is an esprit de corps among them and a pride in their work which makes them intolerant of anyone who brings discredit to the Service or them. There is only one thing that threatens the efficiency of the ranger force. The pay is so low that in some localities it has been hard to get good men; and in a few places it has been hard to get a full force of any kind of men. Yet as a whole it is a most efficient corps, one which will soon be as famous, at least in this country, as the Northwest Mounted Police are in Canada. Forest rangers will figure in novels and be a part of our national life. Some one will make a great reputation by writing a book about the stories of the Service. And as the public learns about them, it will begin better to realize the importance of their work.