River rangers may not actually have superpowers, but they do incredible work. Their mission is to help people enjoy rivers while minimizing damage to sensitive ecosystems.
Playing in and around water is a great way to experience nature, so a lot of visitors to Pisgah National Forest spend their time in the Davidson River, as well as other bodies of water. Where a large number of people are concentrated, some environmental impact is inevitable, but the Forest wants to try and keep it “within acceptable limits,” said Lorie Stroup, fisheries biologist for Pisgah National Forest.
Stroup has partnered with organizations that agree on the need for public education to promote the balance between recreation and conservation of the Forest’s waterways. The Pisgah Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and Clemson University are supporting the first season of river rangers as a pilot program.
“Thousands of people visit [Pisgah National Forest] each week, and those who understand the value of natural resources want to do the right thing. River rangers can help the public reduce their impact and preserve the beauty of a place we all love,” said John Cottingham, Executive Director of The Pisgah Conservancy.
Expect to see the river rangers in action through August. They will conduct educational programs, river cleanups and work to preserve special habitat for aquatic life such as hellbenders.