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The Signpost Newsletter

Second Quarter 2018

2018 Honorary Lifetime Member

George Durkee


George Durkee has served as a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service for 47 years. Until recently, he was a backcountry law enforcement ranger and worked in Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon (37 years), and Channel Islands National Parks.


He has now returned to where he started –  Yosemite – teaching GIS to rangers and working with search and rescue to improve mapping skills. He also teaches GIS and Emergency Services at Columbia College in Sonora, CA.


In the late 1990’s he became interested in GIS as a way to better capture information generated in SAR incidents. In the mid-2000s, working with other SAR and GIS professionals he helped design better geospatial tools and training for SAR. This included a book, starting a Google discussion forum and designed software (MapSAR) to further this effort. These efforts have since expanded into techniques and workflow to locate cell phones in search situations and provide training for teams and advice during active incidents.

President Matt Cerkel presenting 2018 award to George Durkee

George also helped co-found the US Park Rangers Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police in 1986 and served in a leadership role at the Lodge for many years. Through the Lodge’s efforts retirement packages for NPS law enforcement rangers improved.


The Lodge repeatedly fought for better training, equipment and working conditions for the NPS law enforcement rangers. Recently the Lodge transitioned into a new role as the US Park Rangers Lodge, Supporting PEER’s Thin Green Line, but it continues to help protect the protectors of our national parks.


For his nearly five decades of service as a ranger here in California where he protected both the parks he served in and the people visiting them, his efforts to improve the working conditions for park rangers, and for his continued service to the parks and the park ranger profession the Park Rangers Association of California is proud to recognize George Durkee as our 2018 Honorary Lifetime Member.


California Needs to Step up Park Maintenance

Support the Park Bond Bill in November!


Once considered a “best in the nation” system, California’s parks and open spaces have suffered in recent years from a lack of adequate funding to meet the backlog of unseen or aging infrastructure at many of the state’s most beautiful places.


Additionally, parklands are on the front line of climate change, affected by severe storms and sea-level rise, drought and fire — increasing the backlog. Deferring maintenance is akin to taking on more debt — it costs more to fix things as their condition worsens. Gov. Jerry Brown used this same analogy with regard to the Legislature’s transportation measure: “If the roof on your house is leaking, you better fix it, because it gets worse all the time.”


We agree — the time to fix our parks is now.


A park bond bill moving moved across the governor’s desk for his signature and itis on the 2018 ballot. Both outline funding for disadvantaged communities, increased preparation for, and resiliency to, climate change and per capita distribution to every community in the state.


The combined leadership of Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella (Riverside County), in championing this bill toward a bond to tackle the $25 billion of deferred maintenance in parks throughout the state is commendable. It has been 15 years since a legislative park bond made it to the ballot; it’s parks’ turn.


An example is given in a recent study that found the value of the East Bay Regional Park District in Oakland to the state’s economy to be $500 million annually. As the land managed by the district is a minor share of the state’s 47 million acres of open space, imagine how much greater this effect of parks throughout the state is to California’s economy. Championing a bond to tackle the $25 billion of deferred maintenance in parks throughout the state is commendable.


It has been 15 years since a legislative park bond made it to the ballot; it’s hopefully parks’ turn.