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Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award
Washington, D.C.
April 27, 2001

Remarks by the Vice President -- The Presentation of the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award

10:30 A.M. EST

Thank you very much, and welcome to the Vice President’s ceremonial office. It use to be the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, many, many years ago, and then was the office of General Pershing for twenty some years in the twenties and then Vice Presidents only came to it recently. It was a temporary residence or viewed as such.

This is the Eisenhower building and the desk behind me was used by President Eisenhower himself, and several other Presidents. The first user, though, knew something about our national parks, because it was used by Theodore Roosevelt. He is remembered as the great conservationist and we obviously owe a great deal to him because we owe so many of our national parks to him.

I’m pleased to join Secretary Norton and all of you today in recognizing Hunter Sharp as the recipient of the Harry Yount Park Ranger Award.

I’m especially pleased to participate because there’s a home state connection. Wyoming contains the very first area to designated as a National Park, Yellowstone. And the very first park ranger, Harry Yount himself, was a gamekeeper at Yellowstone and is buried in Cheyenne, our state capitol.

The Harry Yount Award goes this year to the chief ranger in the mountain kingdom of North America, Wrangell-St. Elias, in Alaska. Hunter Sharp lives and works on 13.2 million acres of the most beautiful natural sights on this earth. His days are spent far from here, and far from city life -- under the open sky, amid wildlife, alongside sparkling rivers and streams, near the convergence of three of the tallest mountain ranges on the continent. All of which makes you stop and think -- what are we all doing here, today?

Hunter is one of thousands of talented men and women watching over some 379 magnificent parks and trails, caves and lakeshores, monuments and historic sites -- in virtually every state and U.S. possession. From the Hawaii Volcanoes to the Statue of Liberty … from Devils Tower in Wyoming to the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin … from houses where presidents lived, to places where heroes rest -- the Park Service is the guardian of our national treasures, and a keeper of our national memory.

This task of stewardship requires our support, and President Bush and this Administration are determined to provide that support. We’re especially concerned about the daily care and maintenance of the parks, which for some years has received low priority in the federal budget. The President has called for significant new funding to eliminate the maintenance backlog throughout the Park System. We’re going to work with Congress, and they will begin providing those funds this year.

We believe in the National Park Service and its values -- values which are, of course, all gathered together in the person of the park ranger.

People expect rangers to know just about everything, and they usually do. The typical park ranger works as a historian, resource manager, law enforcement officer, curator, teacher -- and sometimes paramedic and rescuer.

Park rangers do all this and more because they love their jobs. And speaking as the son of a man who spent his career working for the U.S Department of Agriculture, I know that people in your line of work aren’t in it for the money. I remember the old motto of rangers in the Grand Canyon -- they said, "We take our pay in sunsets." But thanks to the dedicated rangers throughout the Park System, this nation is conserving its great natural and cultural resources, and building appreciation for that heritage among each generation of Americans.

In presenting this award to Hunter Sharp, we do not say "Park Ranger of the Year," because it stands for much more. It represents a consistent standard of performance, year in and year out. It’s not so much a prize you’ve won, but a duty you’ve done, and continue doing every single day.

You were nominated and selected for the Harry Yount Award by your peers in rangering. But it falls to me to make the presentation, and it’s a real honor to do so. So congratulations.

Let’s get a picture here, well that concludes the ceremony.

Thank you. Remarks by the Vice President -- The Presentation of the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award Remarks by the Vice President -- The Presentation of the Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award

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