In December, South Cumberland State Park manager John Christof came to the Friends of South Cumberland Board with a unique request. The rangers want bikes! Across the country, park rangers are finding that bikes are ideal for use in the backcountry. The rangers believed that for some of their duties they could exchange their pickup trucks and 4-wheelers for mountain bikes, which are more environmentally friendly.
The Friends of South Cumberland (FSC) was delighted to fund this request. Ten-year Ranger Jason Reynolds, who implemented the project, said, “Access to state money is always a problem, and with the current budget restraints, the purchasing of ‘non essentials’ is even more difficult. Thank goodness we’ve got a lovely stock of excellent Friends who always come through!”
The three Trek mountain bikes outfitted with racks and packs cost $650 each. “We try to purchase locally when possible,” Reynolds said, “and Woody Deutsch of Woody’s Bicycles in Sewanee helped us out on the cost.” Currently one bike is stationed at Stone Door, one at the Savage Gulf Ranger Station, and one at the Visitors Center/Fiery Gizzard.
John Christof said the rangers are deeply appreciative to the FSC for making this purchase possible. “I know the bikes will be put to good use. They are a very appropriate way to patrol the park compared to a motorized vehicle.” Christof noted that the bikes will be used in virtually all of the ten parks that make up the South Cumberland. According to Reynolds, “In the past we have use 4-wheelers to help with boundary inspections, and they are still useful in many areas. However the bikes offer a less invasive, quieter, more nimble way of patrolling the sensitive parts of our boundaries. I can foresee the bikes being used in the anti-poaching operations, as they are quiet, ninja-like. Bikes will also be invaluable in some rapid response search/rescue efforts.”
Rangers can now be seen on two wheels instead of four, thanks to a gift of three mountain bikes from the Friends of South Cumberland State Park. Pictured are Ranger Jason Reynolds (left) and Park Manager John Christof.