Tennessee Park Rangers Association Current Issues

 

Law Enforcement Retirement Bill

The TPRA is moving forward with its efforts to have Tn. State Park Rangers join TCA 8-36-205. This bill would increase the retirement benefits for park rangers but would also require a mandatory retirement age.  Park Rangers had the opportunity to vote on this topic. With the result being to move forward.

 

The following are .pdf attachments concerning this bill.

 

Uniform Distinction

Recently a Park Ranger filed a complaint concerning the Park Ranger uniform and who gets to wear it. Several rangers voiced their opinions about seeing people who are non-comisioned wearing a uniform very similar to that of park ranger. They cited problems with the public mistakenly thinking that people they approached for help were park rangers, when in fact, they were not. Park Rangers also discussed issues with the actions people were taking while wearing the similar uniform. To the general public, it might appear that a ranger was doing something out of line, when in fact, the person was not a ranger.  Several suggestions were made to remedy the problem. The board voted to approach our state leadership with these suggestions.

 

Handgun Legislation

State Parks' rules and regulations prohibit firearm possession and use, but Public Chapter 428 of 2009 created an exception in state firearms law that allows individuals with a valid "carry permit" under TCA § 39-17-1351 to carry a handgun within the boundaries of all state parks. While this new law makes an exception for possession, it does not make exception to the use of a firearm. Discharging a weapon in non-designated areas of our parks is still an offense. If a permit holder fires a weapon in self-defense, the holder bears the burden of proof to avoid potential charges under "prohibited firearm use." Firearms are allowed at authorized firing ranges and at parks with authorized hunts. Firearms in transit must be unloaded and cased.

If you have questions about Tennessee Hand Gun laws please visit Handgun Carry Permits for further information. If you DON'T understand a rule or law, please call and ask park staff before you bring your handgun.

 

Golf Cart Legislation

SB 2588 / HB 2508 Golf Cart Bill. The Tennessee Park Rangers Association is in opposition to this bill as it is written for the following reasons: 1.Public Safety – the public roadways with in the park are open for all legal vehicles of the state to travel on, golf carts to not meet the regulatory requirements for vehicles to travel upon the roads of the State. Brake lights, turn signals, safety belts, or other safety features that are found on legal motor vehicles. Park roads as defined in TCA: 55-1-116. “Highway” or “street” defined; would be subject to laws governing the use of such roads. TCA: 55-4-101 (a) (1) states “the operation of any motor vehicle upon the streets or highways of this state, such vehicle shall be registered”. Section; (d) (1) states upon registering the vehicle shall issue a license plate to the owner. The point being that golf carts should not be allowed to operate on highways or streets of the state, unless they meet all the requirements of the Department of Safety to be registered and licensed to operate on such roadways. 2.Operation of a golf cart on State Park roadways would impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “The industry’s standard Z130.1, which applies to all golf carts, contains a specification for the “Maximum vehicle speed” (paragraph 9.6.1) under which” the average speed [of runs in opposite directions] shall not exceed 15 mi/h (24 km/h)” (paragraph 9.6.1.3).” This would impede the normal flow of traffic within our parks that have an average speed limit of 25 mph, and can go up to 40 mph. 3.Potential for misuse: Pulling people on bikes, skateboards, etc. Operation of a golf cart on park hiking trails, and green space, off-road, etc.

***Update to Golf Cart bill. The bill passed. Golf carts are now allowed in state parks in limited areas. Contact each individual park before bringing your cart to see what is allowed and not allowed.

 

Fitness Initiative

The Fitness Initiative program was developed to promote good physical fitness. This is an important factor in the many aspects of a Ranger's job. From search and rescue, to leading nature hikes, good physical fitness is needed. The fitness initiative was first developed as a voluntary program. The first time that the program was to be put into action was during Ranger In-service 2007. Participation numbers in the 2007 program were very high. Everyone who participated had a good time. The program will be held at future in-services to evaluate the success of the program.