‘Ranger of the Lost Art:’ Chasing Down Art from the U.S. National Parks

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Ranger Doug Leen humans outside 365

Every now and then you run across something that captures your imagination while giving you a connection to an outdoor experience you loved. That’s exactly how I felt the first time I came across one of the National Park posters designed by amateur parks historian Ranger Doug Leen and his team of artists and creators. The colors, design and connection to the past reminded me of all of the work and drama that went into protecting the lands I had come to love — and why doing so is important.

Many other collectors and park enthusiasts feel just as I do about the prints — and the mystery and chase around creating them. In this episode Ranger Doug, so-called ‘Ranger of the Lost Art,’ tells the story of chasing down the historic park prints, creating new ones in their style and why these connect visitors to the national parks they love.

Listen now.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:10] Talking to Doug Leen from here

[3:44] Ranger Doug’s outdoor story

[5:53] A career that took him all sorts of place

[7:48] How he became ‘Ranger of the Lost Art’

[16:21] What these posters look like

[20:27] Why people like the posters

[22:29] How the posters connect us with the parks

[27:22] How people can support this work

[30:17] Doug’s favorite outdoor space

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Amy Bushatz: I remember the first time I saw one of the posters created in the style of FDR’s New Deal Work Progress Administration, or WPA. My family and I were visiting Mammoth Cave National Park, not far from our then home near Kentucky and Tennessee border. We had taken a day trip to the park and did one of the brief, self guided tours into the cave. The poster with striking orange, greens, and yellows sat in the gift shop like a link to visitors who came to the park in a bygone era. I immediately bought it. Not that long after, I spotted a similarly styled poster at a different park, and decided that these posters were the perfect way to showcase which parks or monuments we had visited.

Amy Bushatz: Their bright colors gave me feelings of nostalgia paired with memories of enjoying these spaces as a family. Just like the park cancellation stamps I had been collecting at each stop, I became a little obsessed with the whole idea. That probably doesn’t come as a galloping surprise for anyone who regularly listens to this show.

Amy Bushatz: My obsession was nowhere near that of today’s guest, the man behind the modern magic of these posters. Doug Lean, aka Ranger Doug, stumbled his way into the WPA poster chase in the early 1970s while working as a seasonal ranger at Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons.

Amy Bushatz: There, he found a dusty old WPA poster inviting visitors to visit the Jenny Lake Ranger. As we’ll hear today, that find sparked a lifetime of hunting for and reproducing a collection of posters created in this series during the 1930s, paired with creating new posters for other parks, like the one I found for Mammoth Cave.

Amy Bushatz: As a longtime fan of Ranger Dog, I am delighted to introduce you to him today while we chat about the exciting treasure hunt for the WPA’s park posters, while preserving and connecting through art with park enthusiasts of the past is important and how we can work together to preserve the pieces of history on and through our public lands. Ranger Doug, welcome to Humans Outside!

Doug Leen: Thank you, nice to be here,

Amy Bushatz: Oh, I am so excited to talk to you today. As I mentioned, I am a longtime fan and collector. I know you get that a lot. You get a lot of emails that say that, you told me, but, man, what a delight to get to talk to you today.

Doug Leen: well, it’s fun to be here, except I’m somewhere else.

Amy Bushatz: Yes. Well, yes. So we do like to start our episodes imagining as if we are in fact together, not me in Alaska and you in where you said you are Wyoming today. So if we were going to hang out outside in a place that you really enjoy, where would we be with you today?

Doug Leen: Well, I’m in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a place I stumbled into, kind of like you did with the posters. Actually, I stumbled into Jackson Hole and the posters almost at the same time. But, I’ve been here, gosh, 50 years now, visiting, and I’m kind of a part time resident of the valley here. I think I’ve been here every year now for, since 1967. And I built a house here, and of course became a ranger. And, I’ve never, never been able to leave for very long. Let’s put it that way.

Amy Bushatz: You have at least in the past spent part of your year up here in Alaska. Do you still do that?

Doug Leen: Yeah, I have a summer home. I’ve been there for 20 years up in the southeast section, next to Petersburg on a small, it’s the smallest town in Alaska called Kupreanof. And there’s 23 people that live there, 22 right now because I’m down in Jackson Hole. I, you know, I keep a summer cabin there. It’s a one room log cabin. But it’s kind of a classic old log home on a point with a gorgeous view. I just fell in love with that too, so that’s where I spend my summers.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Can’t beat that. So how did you become someone who likes to go outside? How did this become part of who you are? Tell us your outdoor story.

Doug Leen: Well, it’s probably the other way around. My mama could never get me to come inside, you know, at the end of the day. You know, it’s, always been a camper, a Boy Scout, When I, you know, was in high school, we all climbed mountains because we lived near Seattle within an hour’s reach of, the North Cascades and the big volcanoes.

Doug Leen: I worked on the Camp Sherman project on Mount Rainier. It was a kind of a Boy Scout volunteer thing where they built a halfway house up the hill at the, uh, 10, 000 foot level, just below 10, 000 feet. So for two summers I carried two by fours and buckets of tar and you name it to make this cabin come together.

Doug Leen: There were probably, oh, 10 or 15 of us at any one time, but I spent two summers doing that. Some of the, best mountaineers of, at the time, this is back in the early 1960s. And, Omi Diber taught me how to use an ice axe. And, gosh, from there, worked in Olympic National Park for a summer in 1969, the year that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and taught, inner city kids how to climb mountains. And that was quite an ex a learning experience. My mother’s uncle was the founder of Abercrombie Fitch, the sporting goods company, back in 1893, and that was then completely different than the company it is today. It was outdoors, and they outfitted all the major expeditions of the world. I mean, from Amelia Earhart to JFK, Teddy Roosevelt, you name it.

Doug Leen: So that’s kind of in my blood, I guess. And then later I worked for Eddie Bauer, for a couple of years designing, redesigning, some of their down products, tents. we’ve experimented with a lot of stuff. It was in, this was in 1970 for a couple of, a couple of off seasons when I started working for the Park Service.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, the, it’s funny because, I’m about to ask you about another job you held, which is none of the things you just mentioned. We’re going to talk about, yeah, we’re going to talk about the WPA and the lost art today. But your longtime professional career wasn’t in parks as a ranger or in treasure hunting or in any of the things you just mentioned. It was in dentistry. you’ve lived in some extremely wild places through that. Can you tell us about that?

Doug Leen: Yeah. you know, dentistry is, it’s underrated. people, uh, it’s always been joked. It’s always a butt of jokes and Doonesbury and this kind of thing. But, you know, it’s, an incredible profession. You have a skill. You can take anywhere on the planet

Amy Bushatz: Hmm.

Doug Leen: and put it to good use. And I, I did almost 40 years of, of dentistry. I’m retired now. About half of that was in private practice, but it was in the public market in Seattle, Pike Place Market. And it was kind of an inner city, front line ghetto. They were rebuilding the, the whole area. They had a 62 million grant to rebuild the market. Initially they were going to tear it down. I thought, what a neat place to go in and start a dental practice and it was kind of an unknown frontier, metaphorically, I guess, or, but anyway, I loved it there. But, it also allowed me to do some, you know, I could budget my time in such a way that I could take a couple of months off. I went to the Marshall Islands and volunteered on a three masted schooner that I helped build a clinic in, in Seattle and then we sailed it, down to the Marshall. I didn’t go on that leg of it, but I met the boat down there and I was the first dentist to run the program. And we went to all the outer islands and, inside the lagoons, anchored for a week and then did dentistry and medicine. And of course there’s, I went to the South Pole, as a dentist with the Antarctica program and gosh, I’m trying to think where else.

Amy Bushatz: Well, up here into Alaska, that, I mean, that’s why, right, that’s why you came up here originally was to, to dentistry in the, in

Doug Leen: Yeah, I started doing, yeah, yeah, I started in Barrow and worked my way south and ended up in, lived on a tugboat for several years and ran around in the backwaters of Alaska pulling teeth.

Amy Bushatz: I

Doug Leen: A lot of fun.

Amy Bushatz: I gave a little bit of information background at the beginning on your WPA poster pursuit, but I’m hoping maybe you can give us a more full version. How did you go from stumbling on this dusty poster for Jenny Lake during your time as a, seasonal ranger up there to becoming Ranger Doug, ranger of the lost art, which I have to say is a great title.

Doug Leen: You know, that, that phrase popped into my head. It’s no secret that it’s, bad play on words I guess, but it has a lot of similarities and, you know, I, I found this poster and it, I, I immediately realized it was, there were probably several copies. It was a silk screen and they’re always made multiple copies. And secondly, um, there there must’ve been other parks and it, we were cleaning out this old barn in. the park after the tourists left, we’d kind of clean up the park, it was always a mess. And so I, my job was to clean out this barn with my boss and everything was going to the park dump. So I took this poster, poster that was hanging up on the inside of the barn for probably 30 years, since the 1930s, and dusted it off, took it outside and I said, this is not going to the dump. So I put it in my cabin for, the seven years that I worked there and then took it back to college when I went back into the dental program and 20 years later, my boss’s wife called up. She ran the bookstore in the park and she said, we’re doing a, a poster on this historic building called the Jenny Lake Museum, which you worked in for seven years. And we want to move it over there moraine, because it was right on the shoreline, they wanted to, it was an ecological move to move it off the shoreline, basically. And

Amy Bushatz: Hmm

Doug Leen: And she said, do you havve any idea for a poster? And I said, do I have an idea for the poster? I’ve got the poster. I sent her, sent her a copy of this thing. And the first thing she said was, well, can you mail it down to us and we can make a copy of it? And I said, no, it’ll end up in the dump. Because I knew how to park through things away and lost things. And so I said, look, let me do the printing up here. It’s where all the heavy lifting is in Seattle. And, you know, we have printers up there and all the technology. And Moose, Wyoming didn’t have too many silkscreen printers at the time.

Doug Leen: So I, we made a copy of this, copies of this thing and sold, I think five, six hundred in two years. And then Charlene didn’t want to, she said, well, we’ve kind of done this. We’re not going to make any more of them. And I said, oh, come on. These will sell forever. I mean, they’re beautiful pieces of work. And I said, why don’t I make up a Yellowstone one that looks like the same period? And we’ll sell the two together because Teton Park and Yellowstone Park are joined. So she kind of acquiesced, and I started snooping around and couldn’t find anything.

Doug Leen: I called the Library of Congress, and finally I made up my own print. Hired artists and we sat down together and made up an old time 1930 print with Yellowstone, the geyser. And then before I printed it, I thought I’d better make one more look. So Charlene said, well, these are government posters you’re not going to find them in the Library of Congress. You’re going to find them at the Harper’s Ferry Center in West Virginia. If there’s anything, that’s where it’ll be. And she turned out to be right and wrong both. And I did call the Harper’s Ferry Center and they had 13 black and white photographs of a whole bunch of old posters that were done in the 30s. The fellow I was talking to was Tom Durant. Terrific fellow.

Doug Leen: And I said, Tom, is there one in these negatives? Do you have a picture of the, Grand, of Grand Teton Park? And he said, yeah. And I said, read what it says on the poster. And he says, meet, it says, meet the ranger naturalist at Jenny Lake Museum. So that was the holy grail I’d been looking for.

Doug Leen: So now I had 13 black and white photos, and I had one original, and so it was a template I used, and it coincidentally in Seattle, I had a patient who was the Northwest Regional Director, and I, I went to, Chuck, who’s, Odegaard was his name. And I said, can you get these negatives out to Seattle through your archival system?

Doug Leen: So they sent out two copies, a high density and a low density copy. And from those, I spent five years screening, taking apart these black and white photos, one screen at a time. It took me five years. I hired artists to do it. Mike Dupil in Seattle was the chief fellow. But basically from those black and white negatives, I restored the original historic set. It was only 14 prints that were made. There were 35, 000 designs made by WPA artists over eight years, but only 14 of those 35, 000 were National Park. And they made two million prints, about 50 copies each. And why only 50 copies? Because they were printing on silk, and silk like silk stockings got runs in them and they were just, they’re not durable. Today we can make thousands of copies because we have nylons and other ballistic nylon type stuff. But anyway, that’s the story of how I got started, making posters.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And those were at the time distributed to advertise the park to depression era folks who weren’t traveling because of the depression and the government thought that it would be a good idea to get outside. Sounds familiar. Yeah, and I read in your, in your excellent tabletop book on this that the, were typically hung, I mean, on bathrooms or just in disposable places. So it’s not a terrible surprise that they were then ripped down and chucked out with the trash because they saw their use and that was that.

Doug Leen: Now they were very ephemeral. They were never for sale. They were only to entice people to get out of their houses, get in their cars, drive to the parks, and get out into nature. They were 14 parks, 1, 400 prints we assume. only 40, uh, survived today. Two of these parks, Great Smoky Mountains and Wind Cave National Park. There, there are no surviving posters, only these black and white photos that I work from.

Amy Bushatz: You have spent quite a bit of time hunting these down and sleuthing for the originals to, to really come to this conclusion. Hmm.

Doug Leen: Yeah, literally after Charlene’s phone call, once I started recoloring them, what happened was, I had to make up my own colors, and so this was the unknown. And what colors do you use? And the screens, we had to be, you know, all these gray scales, well is the sky and the lake the same blue, or is it a different?

Doug Leen: So anyway, I made guesses. some of them were good and some of them were not so good. But I printed these things and then the internet came along. And it’s the great equalizer. And people that found these original prints started calling me. I never found the prints by going out and searching for them. The prints always found me through the internet.

Doug Leen: So people would call and say, Hey, I’ve got a print, but it’s a different color. What’s going on here? And the first ones to show up were Mount Rainier. There were six of them, six Mount Rainiers, well actually there were two Mount Rainiers and this fellow brought them over.

Doug Leen: And they were of course different colors and on hardboard they looked just like the Jenny Lake print and size and everything. And we didn’t even know the actual size of the print, each one was different. I thought well maybe they made different sizes, but it was parallax in the tilt of the camera. So that was an error we had to fix, and a lot of problems associated with that.

Doug Leen: But anyway, Mount Rainier turned up, and then a year later, I asked him if he’d sell me one so I could start building this collection. He said, no, I got two kids, and they’re both park rangers, and I can’t, I gotta give each one the same one. Each son gets one. I said, well, jokingly, I said, if you find a third one, let me know.

Doug Leen: And a year later, he called me, and he said, I’ve got another print. And so I went over to his house, and here’s not three prints, but five. And he had taken the frame of this one print that is the third one that he found, and there were three prints inside the frame. And the middle, the middle one was pristine, and that’s the one I ended up buying.

Doug Leen: We had it appraised by one fellow out in Philadelphia for 1, 800 and I about fell over because it cost 12 cents to make back in the 30s. But I, and I tried to dicker with him, he said, nope, he said, I’m going to donate the money to the park anyway. So I said, okay, so anyway I bought a poster and today these prints have been appraised for up to $25,000.

Amy Bushatz: Wow. Since we can’t see them, although certainly folks can find a link to your website and all of the information in the podcast show notes, as well as they can look at your recent tabletop book on the posters. But can you maybe describe them for us? Can you describe what these posters look like?

Doug Leen: Well, yeah, you have to go back to the period. It was after World War One. There was an incredible amount of unrest in the world. The Soviet Union was created, the revolution, the, the, the, were a lot of poster art at the time that came out of the Soviet Union, and in fact, it inspired a lot of the Bauhaus school, and I’m not an art historian, but the font in the posters, this Bauhaus font, it’s a German style font, and it’s very popular in America, but there was a lot of worker rebellion in America, the Everett Massacres in 1918, I believe, and, and then you had the Depression hit, and posters, this poster, part of the WPA poster division started making these posters. And of course, they’re all unemployed artists and, and, uh, probably left leaning, whatever, but they adopted the styles at the time from the Bauhaus school.

Doug Leen: And so the other thing to consider is that these prints are, essentially a stacked set of stencils. There’s another tongue twister for you, but there was no gradation in the color between on one block and the next. So they’re very blocky in color, very bold. they tend to use more subdued colors. I’ve tended to go more bright with the modern ones that we’re doing now with new parks.

Doug Leen: That’s a trend that we’ve found very successful in, making these posters, but, you know, they’re very unique and prior to 1987, which is when Chris Denoon and Henry Vizcarra wrote a book called Posters of the WPA. And I, I went out and bought that book and they found 1700 prints that were rumored to be stored in a library in Maryland and they went up in this turret of the building and these crates pried them open like King Tut’s tomb and they found 1, 700 posters, only 3, 400 known before that. So everybody in this country had forgotten about it. The Library of Congress, I called, I think they had three or four in their collection. They didn’t have very many or they didn’t know what they were. I mean, it’s that amazing so after Christian Denoon’s book in 1987, this began this renaissance. And I went out and bought the book, of course, and, it’s still in print then, and realized, and I called Chris Denoon up, and I was going to start printing these black and white photos. And I thought, well, maybe if he’s got the, some originals in these 1700, he could trump my, my case. You know, he could start printing these too. And I wanted to print them real bad because I was a park ranger. So I called Chris Denoon up and I said, Hey, I got a WPA poster that I haven’t seen in your book and he’s, I, I said, I think it’s WPA, and he said, what’s the subject? And I said, it’s a national park. And he said, well, the WPA didn’t make any National Park posters. So even, even Chris Denoon did not know the extent of the WPA’s reach out to public agencies, in this case, the National Park Service itself. Nobody knew these things were there. And so I realized I’m going to spend whatever time it takes to find the rest of these prints. And the bigger scope is that two million prints were made in these eight years and only 2000 have ever been found. That’s one tenth of one percent. So that, if you flip the inverse of that, 99. 9 percent of the public poster art that WPA made is gone forever. Lost forever. So that’s what prompted me to, I gotta collect these, I gotta find these National Park prints.,

Amy Bushatz: I described in the introduction the sort of wonder and connection I felt when I saw the Mammoth Cave poster, in the gift shop. Do you hear that from other people? From other people who become collectors and what is it about these that sparks that do you think? Why do people like them?

Doug Leen: you have to ask them. I like them. you know, I, I sat in bookstores in the parks and I’ve watched people shop and, it’s good. It’s a good lesson to learn. I’m not a marketing. I’m a dentist and, probably not good marketing people anyway. But, but I’ve watched people how they shop and they’ll they need to, they need to understand the history of these, but nobody kind of knows what the new deal is and all this alphabet soup of public agency, the WPAP. WAP, the CCC, which started out as the ECW. I mean, who can keep all this stuff straight anyway. But anyway, once people understand the, the history of what the New Deal did, they built Hoover Dam, they built the Department of the Interior building and they made posters. Once they understand that this is a set, a unique set, that other parks were made, they start collecting them, and they want to visit these parks.

Doug Leen: We now produce, I produce, 60 park silkscreen prints in the same exact style. They’re contemporary. 14 are the originals. But people will now call me up, when is the next print coming out, that’s the park I want to go to. And people literally shop the parks as we print posters. And, you know, in the book, back in the bookstore for a minute, people will come in the door. And they’ll walk over to the desk and say, where’s Ranger Doug’s print? And a lot of other people are making these now, for this reason of course. But we’re the only ones in National Park Bookstores. And we’re the only ones that are silk screening. Everybody else is printing on these on demand printers. And it’s not a high quality print.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Your books are notes I noticed that you haven’t personally been to all the parks you printed, like Mammoth Cave. You hadn’t been to Mammoth Cave when the book was printed and I thought that was funny because that’s the one that I liked the most.

Doug Leen: That’s one of the few I have not been to. I try to visit every park

Amy Bushatz: Why is preserving this connection with public land visitors and caretakers, of the past important? Why is this an important part of the posters and of what you do?

Doug Leen: Well, I mean, I think, you know, these, these posters are historic. And, you know, the National Park Service, when they first, first were formed, didn’t anticipate a depression, of course. You know, they, they wanted to build a, unified system. In 1916, all the parks came together under one roof, so to speak, and standardized uniforms and all this kind of thing. And they, of course, then when the Depression hit, they got money from the government, finally. There were senators back in the 20s that said, not one cent for scenery. It’s in Doug Brinkley’s book. Doug wrote my forward. And I’ll never forget that. It’s like, what? What the heck? That’s probably a little too mild, but, but, you know, these These posters, unfortunately, were terminated because of the war, only 14 made. And, you know, I, what I hope to do with the set is to, is to continue the series as, as was terminated so abruptly by the war. And it’d be fun to do all 425 part units. we got a long way to go and a lot of them are very, very tiny. Might have to amalgamate them together, pardon the dental pun there, but, um, couldn’t resist that.

Doug Leen: But, you know, I, I think it’ll, it’ll make people go back and look at how the parks evolved. And it, it happened, because of a few great politicians. Teddy Roosevelt, of course. I found a photograph I put in the book, of, of, Herbert Collins, who was a portrait artist for the National Park Service when it was first formed.

Doug Leen: He did the portraits of Horace Albright, Stephen Mather, and Secretaries of Interior, and, President of Mexico. He painted the, the, murals at Tumacácori in the Southwest at, Grand Teton, painted the, Teepee Village in the Coler Bay Museum. Today they painted the mythology of Devil’s Tower, the bear scratching the rock to make it the columns look it’s an Indian legend. He painted that. And here he is standing on the steps with Fridia Fricksell, who’s first park ranger in Grand Teton. And it was his ideas of the glacier moraine diorama that they It was used as the idea for the Grand Teton poster. It was the first one made, by the way, the Grand Teton print.

Doug Leen: So they brought Fricksell out to Berkeley when they got all this federal money, and they assembled all the great minds at the time. So here’s Fricksell, Herbert Collins, and the third guy standing with him is William Henry Jackson of the 1872 Hayden Survey. He was with Thomas Moran, who painted the parks, and Jackson took the photographs of the Yellowstone.

Doug Leen: And then went to Congress and created the first national park. So here we are, in 1934, standing on the steps of an old broken down bank building that went belly up because the capitalists were greedy. And they stuffed it with, with government paid artists and they made beautiful things for one decade.

Doug Leen: It was incredible. So this history, you know, it’s all welded together. There’s really a second book here. And the Library of Congress actually has called me and wants help, wants me to do it. I’m not so sure I will, but, you know what the park made in this decade is just precious. And up until even last year the guy that ran the program, at western museum labratory was Ansel Hall, and he was former chief naturalist at Yosemite, and then they made him chief naturalist of the entire park service.

Doug Leen: And then when the federal money came in 1933 and 34, right after when, when, FDR took over. Arno Kammer became the, the, director and then he, of course, he is, he put Ansel Hall in charge of the Western Museum Laboratories, this place in Berkeley where they built all this stuff. And, it was Hall that built maps up in Yosemite in his tenure there a decade before that.

Doug Leen: Now all these maps were thrown away last year and I called the park up. And I was there to get them. And they’re now stored, they’re in an Air Force hangar in Merced, California. And I’m trying to, like the posters, which are simple, these maps, one of them is 40 feet long, comes in 16 sections. Yeah, 16 sections. So these maps, it’s the next book, if you will. And the dioramas, where did they go? The Teton diorama took three years to build. Actually, it took five years to build. But they worked on it for three years. A guy named Lorenzo Moffett drove a Model T Ford a thousand miles out to the Tetons, skied 18 miles to measure the spot, took some photographs, and then went back and they built the diorama, delivered it, and in 1973 it was cut in half with a chainsaw and taken to the park dump. I wasn’t there to save it.

Amy Bushatz: What is the best way for people to continue to help really preserve this kind of history other than watching their, their attics and whatnot for the two missing, missing posters, which I know you’re still hoping to find. But, you know, more broadly, what is the, what is the best way for people to preserve this stuff to really be advocating for that?

Doug Leen: Well, first they have to visit parks. I mean, they have to know what, you know, they have to know what’s out there. And a lot of, many people never, never get out of the cities. These kids that I taught in Olympic Park back in 1969, these inner city kids, none of them had ever been to a national park. So we have to get into our parks. Two is we have to vote. We have to vote for people, and we have to, we have to vote for the people that are going to support our public lands. And there’s a huge, schism today between people that think they can kind of walk anywhere they want on land without any regulation. It’s not true. I mean, these lands are purchased with public funds and for public use. And we, look at Alaska. I mean, you know, what, 60, 70 percent of Alaska is still owned by the federal government. You know, so what? The 750 people that live there today. Get to run rampant over this, these lands. No, we do have regulations and we have, you know, stipulations about what lands are for what purpose and it’s doled out, I think, fairly, but we need to educate our, our legislators and I’m gonna be going to Washington, DC in about a month, and I’m gonna be meeting with, people in the interior department. I’m gonna be meeting with some congressmen and I’m gonna demand that they fund our national parks fully. I was last in Washington, D.C. I met with, Secretary Zinke.

Amy Bushatz: hmm.

Doug Leen: And we had a very good talk and he, we talked about the $70 carload thing and he wanted to charge the public $70 a car to get into their national parks. I said, you can’t do that. And he said, why not? And I, he said, Disneyland’s 125 or something, ridiculous amount. And I said, because the people already own these parks. There our parks. And it is America’s best idea, Wallace Stegner. Borrowed by Ken Burns, and now you hear it today, but you know, the public lands are owned by the public, pure and simple.

Doug Leen: But anyway, we need to fund our parks. And I personally think we should be developing our our national parks to their best and get people out into them

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Doug, thank you so much for joining us today. If we were going to walk out of this conversation with you, maybe recollecting a favorite moment you have outside, maybe in one of these parks, maybe on one of your adventures, can you describe a moment outside for us that you really enjoyed as we, as we leave this conversation?

Doug Leen: Hmm. boy the one place I think that is most memorable or unique is Antarctica And I was fortunately because I was a park ranger. I applied for to be a guide to the historic huts in, in Antarctica. There’s I think five or six in the McMurdo Sound area, but three principal ones and I was a guide for this Scots hut at Cape Evans.

Doug Leen: And I’d walk out, you drive about 15 ,20 miles north of McMurdo on the ice in a big huge uglu truck and it’s full of people like a bus, like a Soviet bus with the 10 foot high tires or something. But we’d get out and walk across and I’d sit up on the ridge above this cabin and here’s a little tiny cabin. You’re looking out over at Cape Royds Which is where Shackleton’s Hut is six seven miles away and you look at the immensity of this Continent you’re sitting on and it’s frozen just incredible. And right behind, to your right, if you’re looking down at the hut from this ridge, is Mount Erebus. It’s the only continually erupting volcano in the world, and it’s spewing out, volcanic ash and, and, other stuff, just constantly. And you, you, you look out at this vast continent, which is thousands, plus miles across thousands and these men 100 years ago, you contemplate these men 100 years ago coming here in a boat and it was a steam powered boat, but it had sailed, sailed in bouncing around of icebergs.

Doug Leen: And you just imagine what these people were thinking. Are they crazy or are we crazy? You know, here we are a century later, you know, in our down coats, in our, our big, fancy, automobiles and this kind of thing but to sit and wa sit up on this ridge and overlook the Shackleton’s hut and all of, imagine what went on for years, you know, the, the, the heroic age of discovery in Antarctica is just incredible. And, that probably is my most memorable outdoor experience.

Amy Bushatz: Well, Ranger Doug, thank you so much for joining us today on Humans Outside. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you, hear about this history, hear about the art. Folks can find your book, your tabletop book, on your website, which we will link in the show notes. And it is a beautiful collection of all of the posters and really wonderful storytelling around each of them, and the art itself and, uh, and the park history. So thank you so much for joining us today.

Doug Leen: Well, thank you very much for having me.

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