A/DCM Mike Honigstein
Rangers have one of Georgia’s most important jobs: protecting this country’s natural beauty. Before I get started, I want to take a moment to recognize the tragic loss of life, the people who gave their lives, serving the people of this country in the crash on the border last week. Although those who perished came from a different branch of government than the Rangers, the mission that they were on, when they gave their lives, was like what a Ranger might find himself or herself doing, and doing greatly. No doubt, Rangers feel a kinship with those who lost their lives and their families. The U.S. government shares its deep condolences. So, as I said, the Rangers have one of Georgia’s most important jobs: protecting the country’s natural beauty. The duties of a Ranger are many: law enforcement in parks, they’re educators and visitors and they’re ambassadors for Georgia, and its many foreign visitors. They help us if we get into danger or we’re hurt in a park, and the stewards of economic growth in the communities that surround them. It’s because of these many vital roles and the professionalism and courage with which Rangers perform them that we celebrate World Ranger Day. It’s also a recognition of the importance of national parks and protected areas. That’s why the U S government, the USAID has devoted significant assistance to developing Georgia’s protected areas, and environmentally and commercially sustainable tourism destinations. It’s why we’ve supported Rangers and others who work in the parks and bring visitors to the parks. Protected areas and national parks are a crucial part of slowing the impacts of climate change. There’s significant source of carbon sequestration. Protecting them is one of the ways to meet the goals set by the U.S. and Georgia. Educating people young and old about the history and importance of national parks and how to enjoy them in a respectful way protects them short term and long term by generating public support for preserving them. Ensuring a safe and memorable visitor experience also promotes tourism, good jobs and economic growth in the surrounding communities.
As I said, at the beginning, these are the roles of the Rangers. It’s fitting that we celebrate them here today for all that contributes to their communities and to Georgia and to the world. Our support for Georgia’s Rangers and protected areas is just one more way that U.S. government assistance supports Georgia to advance its economic development while maintaining its rich national endowment and cultural heritage. So, in closing, I want to thank all of the Park Rangers here today and those who are on the job around Georgia. Their work protecting, educating and contributing to their local community and their local economy is truly a phenomenal contribution to their country and its natural resources.