A day-in-the-life of Park Ranger Danielle Treadway

Published Aug. 25, 2010

t’s been said that Corps park rangers are the face of the Corps—but after spending a short time with Nolin Lake Park Ranger Danielle Treadway, it is obvious they are that and so much more.

Corps rangers cover a wide spectrum of tasks ranging from visitor information, water safety initiatives, community outreach, shoreline management, park maintenance and facility inspections. The list goes on and on.

"The job is different every day," Treadway said. "You’re not stuck in a monotonous job, because there is always something different you can do."

Treadway, who has worked at Nolin as a park ranger for one year has a degree in Agricultural Business and a Parks and Resources master’s degree. After five years of working as a recreation park ranger at Hartwell Lake in Georgia, Treadway was ready to expand her horizons.

"I didn’t know who the Corps was, what the Corps was; I didn’t even know the agency existed," Treadway said, "but, it’s great."

Every nine-hour workday at the lake begins with a routine staff meeting. "We just discuss any issues, how the weekend went, and make sure everybody is aware of everything going on," Treadway said. "Then, we all go our separate ways."

For Treadway, that sends her in a million different directions. She checks her e-mail, makes phone calls, checks for boat ramp user fee deposits and performs quality assurance checks for cleaning contracts which includes bathroom inspections across the lake.

"We just make sure they are picking up the trash and meeting the expectations of the contract," Treadway said.

Treadway is also responsible for checking the vegetation alteration permits on all lake pathways and handles vegetation removal. "In a five-year process, I hope to GPS all the pathways," she said. "That is winter-time or down-time type of stuff."

One of Treadway’s most time-consuming tasks is dealing with the citizens who own property on the lake to ensure they are in accordance with the shoreline management plan.

"All our rangers spend a large part of their time on shoreline management. Every adjacent landowner wants a dock, a mow permit and sometimes a set of stairs or a cart path," Nolin Lake Manager Chris Boggs said. "Rangers have to be adept at working with all sorts of people in all sorts of situations."

Treadway has appointments with property owners two to three days a week to discuss transfers, dock permits and concerns.

"You’ve always got people pushing the rules or thinking they are exempt from shoreline management," Treadway said, "Dealing with all the different personalities at the lake is a challenge."

One of her recent appointments led her to help property owners accommodate handicap needs. Treadway realized due to the location of the property owner’s house that a handicap-accessible pathway would be unsafe in that location, but she brainstormed and coordinated with contractors to create an accessible dock at the community boat ramp nearby. "I’ve gotten lake access for someone who used to be able to enjoy the lake, but now because of a tragic accident is depressed and can’t," Treadway said, "Now she can enjoy the lake and her pastimes of fishing and riding on a boat."

Another rewarding aspect of Treadway’s job is coordinating community outreach events. "Danielle’s played a big role in this effort," Boggs said.

"We’ve put a lot of time into community programs and organizations," Treadway said. "This summer that’s where my time has been."

Treadway is currently planning a fishing event with Big Brothers Big Sisters Aug. 28, a lake-wide public clean-up effort Oct. 2 and mentoring opportunities with Grayson County Middle School where lake staff will help kids with homework after school. "It helps them get used to people in uniforms or adults in general," Treadway said, "It helps them see that uniforms aren’t a scary thing."

She is also currently working with the Friends of Nolin group to organize a life-jacket turn-in incentive program. "They would bring in life-jackets that their children outgrew in exchange for a discount on a new life-jacket," she said.

These activities keep Treadway busy during the week, but on the weekends, rangers add boat patrol and campsite visits to the agenda. "I’ve always thought it was neat to get out and talk to the campers at the campsites because everybody has different personalities," Treadway said. "I enjoy hearing about their backgrounds and stories."

The five permanent rangers at Nolin Lake rotate working one month of weekends. During the boat patrols the rangers focus more on water safety than law enforcement. "A lot of people confuse us with Fish and Wildlife lake patrol officers. They think they are going to be in trouble if we pull them over," Treadway said. "So, we’re trying to soften the image of what a ranger is."

"Even for people that aren’t pleased with the Corps, we just take time to explain why the rules are the way they are," Treadway said. "But, typically people are pleased with the Corps."

At the end of the day Treadway takes pride in knowing that she has done her part to enhance the face of the Corps.