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Rangers step up warnings

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Rangers step up warnings
August 25, 2011 09:07PM
AUGUST 26, 2011
National Parks Tap Fear Factor


YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif.—Faced with rising fatalities and exploding search-and-rescue costs, national parks are turning to an ounce of prevention to reduce visitor accidents.

... Under a program called Preventative Search and Rescue adopted by several Western parks, rangers and other staff are focusing more intently on warning visitors about natural hazards.

This summer at Yosemite, rangers have concentrated the bulk of their prevention efforts along the 1.5-mile Mist Trail—a steep and slippery route that thousands of visitors use to trek to the top of Vernal Fall.

"We have decided to approach the dangers head-on," said Scott Gediman, an assistant superintendent and spokesman at the park, which began ramping up its prevention efforts two years ago by hiring five permanent and seasonal rangers whose chief job is to caution visitors.

Prevention rangers are stationed near trails or scenic attractions to warn visitors who look unprepared for the risks. "I've seen people wading above waterfalls, I've seen people climb over guard rails," said Kari Cobb, a ranger and park spokeswoman. "I definitely say things to them about why it's dangerous."

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