Jan. 15, 2003 – Taking its cue from other national parks, the V.I. National Park on Jan. 1 began a Rent-A-Ranger program.
Brian Young, Caneel Bay Resort general manager, is all for the idea. In the past, he said, resort guests sometimes couldn't get space on the park's popular guided Reef Bay Trail excursions. Now, by organizing a weekly trip for Caneel Bay guests with a Rent-A-Ranger guide, the resort will ensure that everyone who wants to take the trip is able to do so.
Caneel Bay offers an "Explore" package that includes the Reef Bay trip, Young said. "It entices guests out into the park," he said, estimating that there will be 10 to 12 guests on each of the weekly trips.
Park Superintendent John King said the park has embarked on a six-month pilot program to see how Rent-A-Ranger works. The park has hired two additional interpretive rangers for the trial period, he said.
The park charges $35 an hour for a ranger's services.
He said the program also is providing additional business for the Sadie Sea, the boat that provides transportation at the end of the trail hike, from the Reef Bay beach to Cruz Bay, for $15, and for Paradise Taxi Association, which provides land transportation for $5 for visitors taking Rent-A-Ranger trip.
In addition to the Caneel Bay bookings, King said, the Westin Resort has signed on for two guided trips a week down the Reef Bay Trail, and a tour company has a ranger on board for a snorkel tour. And he said he expects a round-the-island historical tour to begin using a ranger at the end of January.
When on rental assignment, the rangers wear their park uniforms on land and their official park bathing suits in the water.
King said the park expects to squeeze in an interpretive program at Trunk Bay and an additional evening program at Cinnamon Bay Campground using the new rangers.
While the a Rent-A-Ranger program is good for the resorts and businesses, it's also good for the park, King said. Thousands of visitors come to the park on tours, he said, and few have contact with rangers or even stop at the Cruz Bay Visitor Center. "We wanted to reach a larger segment of the visitor community," he said.
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