THE PARK KEEPERS’ TRADITION
Park keepers have long been a tradition of the Boston park system. A pioneer of early American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted originally mapped and designed what are now the nine parks that comprise the Emerald Necklace, along with the notion that park keepers would actively maintain and patrol the grounds.
The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, interested in effectively providing both safety and service to park patrons, formed a seasonal Park Ranger division with the same hope and vision that Olmsted promoted a century earlier. Given the name of the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit, four horses from the Boston Police Department were provided so that these Park Rangers could uphold the security and public service necessary to maintain the Emerald Necklace.
After several receptive and constructive seasons, the Boston Park Rangers program became a year-round institution in 1988, and the Park Rangers Mounted Unit received an independent stable for the division in Franklin Park. Almost 30 years later, the Boston Park Rangers still maintain the Emerald Necklace, providing visitors with the same level of paramount public service, including security and enforcement, park conservation, visitor assistance, interpretive programming and even emergency response. The Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit now patrol the nine parks, fulfilling Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision and keeping the park keepers’ tradition alive and well.
THE BOSTON PARK RANGERS
For almost 30 years, the Boston Park Rangers have become one the of the most respected and revered units in the city of Boston. The Rangers and their six horses Baron, Frederick, Jacob, Liberty, Mystic and Winston, function as eyes and ears in order to provide significant security to the nine parks of the Emerald Necklace.
The Parks Rangers are seasoned, thoughtful patrolmen but before they are able to ride, they must learn to understand, care and respect the patrol horses on which they will ride. Newly selected rangers are trained in horse psychology, handling techniques, proper equine management and even equine medical care services. Additionally, new rangers are taught the essentials of horsemanship and how to ride and maneuver for all circumstances for both public and patrol.
The unit has several fundamentals that a ranger must not only learn, but live by, in order to be selected as a member of the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit: Public Assistance, Public Safety & Park Protection, and Interpretive Programming. The Boston Park Rangers are considered to be the Emerald Necklace’s “Goodwill Ambassadors” for all who enter the park system. This requires they provide the additional services of directions, city history and information, regulations, and first aid.
In addition to enforcing all of the park rules, they provide services not unlike the city’s fire, conservancy, and animal control units, responsible for smaller fires, proper wildlife licensing, and protection for and against the animals that inhabit the park system. Finally, the rangers provide historical and ecological information to deepen the park patrons’ appreciation of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, in turn creating a mutual respect that improves the park system and enhances the experience of park visitors.