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Why I live here Yosemite: Ranger Shelton Johnson, star of Ken Burns's national parks documentary, is on a mission to increase stewardship of our parks.

HOW HIS LIFE HAS CHANGED For many years, my workday involved shifts at the visitor center, giving talks, and answering the phone. Now, most of my time is spent on the road at speaking engagements, or preparing for them. My mission is to get more kids into the park, especially culturally diverse kids from the inner city. Once they see our parks, they're more likely to become stewards.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

HIS FIRST NATIONAL PARK EXPERIENCE When I stepped off the bus in Yellowstone, it felt primordial. You have eruptive hot springs, Ice Age-like animals, the smell of sulfur; it feels like the beginning of the world. So if you're a kid from Detroit like I was, it's over-whelming--in a good way.

WHY A NATIONAL PARK VISIT SHOULD BE REQUIRED These are the landscapes that shaped our national character. Millions of Americans have never been to a national park--that should be illegal.

ON LIVING IN YOSEMITE Most people are in an environment where humans dominate the scene; here, you take the trash out and see a buck with a full rack walking up the road.

-AS TOLD TO JULIE CHAI

INFO Shelton wrote Glory-land (Sierra Club Books, 2009), a fictional memoir of a Buffalo Soldier and Yosemite ranger. Visit nps.gov/yose for park info.
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Title Annotation:The West at its best
Author:Johnson, Shelton
Publication:Sunset
Date:Aug 1, 2010
Words:214
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