DEER CREEK RESERVOIR, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah State Park Rangers are often called on to help find people who have disappeared on state lands. However, their job is much more involved than that. Here’s this week’s Behind the Badge report.
Park Ranger Gage Hoogveldt interacts with a lot of people during his day. “Being out here in the environment and helping people.” And it’s one of the reasons he loves his job as a Utah State Park Ranger.
“Being out here in the environment and helping people. Enforcing laws and everything is one thing, but I honestly like helping people and interacting with people on a daily basis.”
But being here – driving around – keeping an eye on things around Deer Creek Reservoir and on the reservoir – is just one aspect of his job.
“I’m on a lot of search and rescues. Between here and in the Strawberry area and the Provo River. It’s a lot of area – a lot of outdoor recreation. And people go missing.”
There’s also the search and rescue aspect – which he’s been doing since he was in the military. “I was a search and rescue swimmer for the Navy. I was always looking for people – that was one aspect of my job, but it was fun – search and rescue is a thing that I can’t seem to get away from.”
Then there is the policing part of his job. “Keep people safe, educate them and also enforce those laws.”
And the third aspect of his job – treat the park – like a business. “We (park rangers) all kind of collaborate and help run the park and facilities, but we also are in charge of keeping the park up to date – keeping new things coming. Moving forward and keeping it lively for the public. One of my responsibilities is to make that business thrive.”
The 29-year-old ranger says it’s the type of job that keeps you on your toes.
“Some days I’m in the office doing ‘admin’ stuff and other days I’m out here responding to an accident. You never know what kind of day you’re going to have.” And he says – he likes it that way. “Why did you want to be a park ranger? Well, it’s very dynamic. One minute I’m on the boat. Another minute I’m going to a medical on land.”
Park Ranger Hoogveldt says winter presents several different challenges – especially with people getting lost and snowmobile accidents. Since becoming a Ranger – just 11 months ago – he has already had to handle critical injury accidents involving boats and snowmobiles. And sadly, he has had a couple of drownings.
To nominate a first responder for a future Behind the Badge story – just go to http://www.abc4.com/badge and scroll to the bottom of the page to fill out and send in the nomination form.