Sixteen student conservationists will work as rangers in city parks this summer if Pittsburgh City Council votes to accept a $700,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation today.
Pittsburgh Parks Director Jim Griffin said members of the Student Conservation Association have volunteered at city parks for years, but now they could get paid for their work.
“Their local chapter helps us control invasive species, helps us manage the watershed, helps us do invasive insect and tree servicing and things like that, so that partnership was longstanding," Griffin said. "This was just a natural evolution.”
Griffin said under the new agreement, the student conservationists would have all the same powers as the city’s three full-time park rangers and 15 to 20 part-time rangers, except the students wouldn’t have the authority to write citations. But Griffin noted that the rangers haven’t written any citations since they were hired last year.
“We haven’t had any issues with people not responding to requests to stop smoking, put their dogs on a leash, pick up their litter – whatever request has been made of them,” Griffin said.
The students would work in 10 city parks, including Highland, McKinley, Schenley and Emerald View. The grant to be voted on today would fund the students' work for the summers of 2016 and 2017.