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Boston Park Rangers

Last updated: 5/9/17

Boston Park Rangers

The Boston Park Rangers serve the public in the tradition of "park keepers," an idea conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and the designer of Boston's Emerald Necklace park system.

The Boston Park Rangers serve the public in the tradition of "park keepers," an idea conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and the designer of Boston's Emerald Necklace park system.

In 1982, The Boston Parks and Recreation Department Park Ranger Division was formed as a seasonal program; in 1988 the ranger program became a year-round presence in the park system. Today, the diverse responsibilities of the Boston Park Rangers include park security and safety, visitor services, resource management and interpretive programming. Rangers provide services in the nine Emerald Necklace parks, as well as Boston's historic burying grounds, neighborhood parks and playgrounds.

The ranger staff boasts a variety of professional skills and educational backgrounds, including training in park management, recreation, liberal arts, law enforcement and environmental studies. Trained in first aid, CPR and crisis intervention, the Rangers are ready to respond to any emergency in the parks.

The Boston Park Rangers have three primary areas of responsibility; public assistance, public safety and park protection, and interpretive programming. Each one of these responsibilities encourages the proper use of The Boston Parks through education.

Still have questions? Contact:
Parks and Recreation
1010 Massachusetts Avenue
3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02118
United States

Mounted unit

In 1982, the Boston Park Ranger Mounted Unit was established through a coordinated effort with the Boston Police Department, and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. In that year, the unit had a compliment of four mounts and four riders. The mounts were on loan (later donated) from the Boston Police Department and were maintained in their stable at Franklin Park. During that year, mounted patrols were limited to the Arnold Arboretum. In 1987 the Boston Police Mounted Unit moved their main stables to the Brandigee Estate while the Boston Park Rangers established their own independent stable in Franklin Park. Read more about the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit training.

Today, the Boston Park Ranger Mounted Unit is comprised of its own department horses, tack, trailers, and patrol vehicles. They now patrol all nine parks in the Emerald Necklace as well as neighborhood parks and cemeteries. The rangers also perform special duties as necessary.

Over the years, the Boston Park Ranger Mounted Unit has grown into a highly recognized and respected agency in the City of Boston, providing visitors and residents alike with public safety, quality equestrian programs and educational programs.

Patrol and safety

Public Assistance

As goodwill ambassadors, the Boston Park Rangers meet and greet the general public on a minute by minute basis. The rangers are prepared to offer any and all types of assistance to the hundreds and thousands of tourist and park patrons who visits the Boston's historic park system day in and day out. Rangers assist the general public in many ways, including; providing first aid, tourist information, travel directions information about park rules and regulations.

Interpretive Programming

The Rangers are well known for providing information on the historical, cultural and environmental features of the parks and their environs. By educating the public about the park system's environmental and historical value, and by verbally enforcing park rules and regulations, the rangers encourage appreciation and proper usage of our urban green space.

Public Safety and Park Protection

To protect the park resources and the people who patronize the parks, the Rangers work closely with fire, police, conservation and animal control service agencies in Boston, using the tools of verbal persuasion and education, Rangers enforce all City of Boston park rules and Bike Patrol regulations, local, state and federal laws and ordinances. 

Rangers are called upon to provide a wide variety of services, including (but not limited to) enforcing Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife regulations, checking State fishing permits, extinguishing all fires which do not require the immediate attention of the Boston Fire Department enforcing Pooper Scooper and leash laws, assisting injured animals, monitoring the park wildlife and its habit.

Training

Rangers

In order to be eligible for mounted training a ranger must have served with the department for a minimum of one season. Prior horse experience is not required. Mounted training begins with learning basic horse psychology. Teaching new riders, how and why horses think and react is fundamental in safely handling horses from the ground. Training also includes basic equine management, covering such topics as mucking, haltering, leading. Finer points of horse management are also taught including; colic prevention, horse anatomy, emergency equine first-aid and how recognize and treat common ailments. 

The rangers then learn basic horsemanship skills and are taught to ride. The rangers ride a military seat with open toed irons and double reins. The trainees become proficient at the walk, trot and canter, being taught to back, side pass, turn on the fore, haunches and jump. They are also trained in conducting programs with their mounts (Horse of Course, H.O.C.) which encourages positive interaction with the public. 

Horses

The horses used by the park rangers are from various breeds and back grounds. They range in size from 15.1-17hh, are geldings and usually of solid color. Ideally, the horses range in age from 4-9 years old. However, older sound, sane horses have been used.

After arrival to the stable, re-mounts are quarantined for ten days. This allows the horse to rest and settle into a new environment. Over the next twenty days the horse will be exposed to many things, some familiar, some completely foreign. The horse is ridden and evaluated on basic gaits and athletic abilities. After the thirty day evaluation, a decision is made to either keep the horse or reject him. A horse that is accepted is then assigned to a veteran rider and exposed to the rigors of life as a patrol horse.

Special Duties

The mounted unit also serves as the Park Department's official Honor Guard attending park openings, tree lighting ceremonies and many of the city's neighborhood parades. The unit has had the distinct pleasure of participating in Presidential Inaugural Parades as well as the CanAm Mounted Parade held in Toronto Canada.

Other duties expected of the unit include funeral details. Attending funerals by honoring dignitaries as well as fallen officials that have died in the line of duty.

Join us

Seasonal Park Ranger Positions

To meet our minimum qualifications, you must:

  • be a City of Boston resident
  • have a valid Massachusetts drivers license
  • be at least 21 years of age, and
  • have at least 2 years college education or 2 years work equivalence in law enforcement, natural resource management, environmental science, or animal control. 

Apply through Career Center

Mounted Unit's Stable Operation

Your responsibilities include mucking and bedding stalls, hand walking horses, grooming, picking hooves, cleaning tack, stocking inventory, sweeping, and general stable maintenance.

To meet our minimum qualifications, you must:

  • have previous hands-on horse experience
  • have your own transportation
  • be able to lift 50 pounds
  • be able to commit to a minimum of 4 hours per week, and
  • go through a background and CORI check. 

Please send inquiries to: Sgt. Hodari Keels at ranger.dispatch@boston.gov.