On a bitterly cold day, twenty one rangers turned up for the volunteers meeting at the Visitor Centre last Friday.
Ben outlined the latest aims and objectives of the Trust as far as rangers are concerned, with new documents and maps. It was an interactive meeting, with an outdoor session looking at typical problems of rights of way. On the new aspects of the ranger role at Ashridge, the Trust would like to encourage us to individually adopt or take responsibility for one or more Estate zones. This will hopefully help individuals find a sense of pride in their own patch, will ensure a coverage of the whole Estate, and improve efficiency. There is no enforcement on individuals who may not wish to cover particular areas, and Ben reminded the gathering of the need to enjoy the role of the volunteer ranger. As a consequence a schedule of named individuals has been produced covering the fifteen Estate Zones.
Managing rights of way on a regular basis is a key aim of the Trust, and a Role Guideline has been produced so that Ashridge can be more pro-active with maintenance. Rangers would undertake the tasks of clearing around way-mark signs, and the trimming back of vegetation on legal rights of way – footpaths and bridleways but not on other paths. Litter picking and the cleaning of signs in car parks is also included in the role of the ranger, and the condition of gates and fences would also be part of the remit.
Engaging with the visitors and dealing with difficult situations is another key issue for the Trust. Rangers are expected to be advocates for Ashridge, speaking to and assisting the public, but they are not required to police the Estate. To this end a Guideline for Managing Incidents has been issued covering specific eventualities, but rangers are not expected to try to enforce the legal rights of the Trust and should report any incidents. To help implement this role the Trust will be producing specific leaflets for walkers, dog walkers, horse riders and bikers which can be handed out by rangers to support their actions. The leaflets will outline the legal rights of the Trust and the public. Where visitors require a permit or licence for their activities it is quite reasonable for rangers to ask to see their pass.
Where issues of concern have occurred, we are required to report the incident by email to five stated recipients, with a photograph if possible using the format on the Reporting Form.
Looking to the Spring, Emily is planning an early-morning sortie to Northchurch common, to engage with the dog walkers, explaining the required code of conduct when exercising their animals. As far as commercial dog-walkers are concerned there will be a licensing system in place by then. In a positive move towards bikers, it is hoped to develop a circular route around the Estate dedicated to cyclists.
To view the maps on the blog click on the option “Maps & Documents” on the navigation bar or use the individual links below.