DNR honors Gooseberry Park ranger
Traffic at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Two Harbors can be overwhelming to visitors trying to take advantage of the trails and scenic beauty the park has to offer.
When the mercury begins to rise in the summer and the influx of visitors increases, park security ranger Shelley Keech swings into action.
For the last 10 years, Keech, a Two Harbors resident, has worked as a security ranger at the park. When traffic spikes at the park, Keech heads out to direct visitors to different areas of the park, ensuring a safer and more memorable experience.
For her service at Gooseberry, Keech was awarded the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner's Recognition Award at a ceremony Aug. 29 at the Gooseberry visitor center.
With more than 750,000 visitors in 2017, Gooseberry is among the most visited state parks in Minnesota. During the summer and fall, the number of guests at the park can range from 7,000-9,000 per day, making traffic control a major priority for the staff.
Keech continually evaluates the situation and has developed a system to know exactly when to begin diverting traffic into overflow parking lots and keep cars moving. She has also trained members of the staff in strategies to keep traffic flowing smoothly, according to a nomination letter sent by Gooseberry Assistant Manager Nick Hoffmann.
"Shelley's work over the years has been vital to the overall operation at Gooseberry Falls in providing a safe and memorable experience to all that visit," Hoffmann wrote. "Shelley was instrumental in developing the current method of traffic monitoring and management that we use. She is an excellent ambassador for DNR (Parks and Trails Division) because of the high professional standard she sets for herself."