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Most Dangerous Park This Side of the River

127174-275533-thumbnail.jpgOrgan Pipe Cactus National Monument:
"the most dangerous park in the nation"

-- National Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police

"A few minutes after 1 p.m. on August 9, most of the nation's National Park Service rangers were settling in after lunch: checking campgrounds, responding to reports of tourist-animal encounters, leading interpretive lectures. But in southwest Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, ranger Kris Eggle found himself dodging through the desert in 110-degree [43-degree] heat, pursuing an armed Mexican fugitive."

-- Tom Clynes, National Geographic Adventure

In August of 2002, a 28-year-old park ranger named Kris Eggle was shot "while helping Border Patrol agents catch two men suspected by Mexican officials in a drug-related quadruple murder."

rangerlodge.jpegBefore Eggle's death," wrote Clynes for National Geographic News, "Organ Pipes former chief ranger, Dale Thompson, realized that his rangers were outmanned and outgunned by the drug traffickers, with their growing infrastructure of communications and surveillance systems, automatic weapons, and even support from elements in the Mexican police and military. He called for reinforcements, but his requests for more resources got little more than sympathy in Washington. Budgets were frozen, and in the wake of September 11, trained rangers were being siphoned off by other federal law-enforcement agencies, who could pay more.

"'Our budget isn't considered part of homeland defense, so it wasn't a priority.' Thompson said, as he drove past the 20-foot (6-meter) hole in the border fence that Eggle's killer drove through. 'But how long will it be until someone figures out that you could easily drive a semi-truck with a nuclear device through here?'"

park map
Closures in effect, winter 2006:

"The Puerto Blanco Road remains closed past the first five miles. Please check at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center for the most current closure information."

History of The Park:

According to the "non-partisan" National Parks Conservation Association: "The 330,689-acre park was set aside in 1937 to protect the bulk of the U.S. population of organ pipe cacti, which are common in Mexico. Visitation has varied greatly in recent years, peaking at 412,453 in 1995 and falling to 156,107 in 1999." These numbers do not include those who might have entered the park after hours or by ways other than its official entrance.

According to Desertusa.com ("The Ultimate Desert resource"):

"Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument celebrates the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert. Here, in this desert wilderness of plants and animals and dramatic mountains and plains scenery three unique desert habitats converge within 500 square miles. The Monument exhibits an extraordinary collection of plants of the Sonoran Desert, including the Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus, a large cactus rarely found in the United States.

"There are also many creatures that have been able to adapt themselves to extreme temperatures, intense sunlight and little rainfall. Sonoran desert plants and animals, found nowhere else in the United States, are protected throughout the Monument and elsewhere in Arizona."

unwanted visitor's guide
Spanish-language visitors to the region are encouraged to study the free guidebook from the Mexican Consulate. Here are some salient excerpts, as translated in January 2005 by the New York Times:

* If you cross the desert, try to walk during hours when the heat is not so intense;

* Distrust anyone who... asks you to drive a vehicle or carry a package for him. Those packages often contain drugs or other prohibited substances. For this reason, many people have ended up in prison;

* Do not resist arrest;

127174-275594-thumbnail.jpg* do not throw stones or objects at the official or at the patrol car, as this is considered a provocation of the officials;

* If the officials feel assaulted, it's probable that they will use force to detain you;

* Do not carry firearms, knives or other dangerous objects. Keep in mind that many Mexicans are dead or in prison for this reason.

This Day in Immigration, from the Center for Immigration Studies: Feb 18, 1931 - An act provided for the deportation of any alien convicted of violation of U.S. laws concerning the importation, exploration, manufacture, or sale of heroin, opium, or coca leaves.

Parks in Danger:

In January 2004, Organ Pipe was named one of the "ten most endangered parks" by the NCPA ("non-partisan"), citing that "[u]ndocumented border crossings [had] created hundreds of miles of illegal roads and trails, generated huge quantities of trash, jeopardized rare wildlife, and drained or polluted natural water sources."

In 2006 the top ten list also included Yellowstone (for snowmobile noise polution, air quality, lack of funds, susceptibility to poaching), the Everglades (for pollution "from sewage, commercial and agricultural runoff"), Alaska's Wrangell St.-Elias (for off-road vehicles), California's Joshua Tree (because of encroaching development, air pollution, lack of funding and a proposed landfill project--"one of the largest ever proposed in the lower 48 states"), and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom (lack of funding).


Public Law 105-203 was passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in order "to recognize the importance of the Underground Railroad, the sacrifices made by those who used the Underground Railroad in search of freedom from tyranny and oppression, and the sacrifices made by the people who helped them."

388 other parks were not listed by the Parks Conservancy as especially endangered.

park ranger
Featured Job (from USAJobs.gov, 2006, "the official job site of the United States Federal Government"):

US Customs and Border Protection

Now Hiring for Border Patrol Agent GS-1896-05/07

Featured Employer:

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) --

As the single unified border agency of the US, CBP's mission is vitally important to the protection of America.

Posted on 18 February, 2006 by Registered Commentergroundskeeper | CommentsPost a Comment

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