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As the District Ranger for the Canyonlands National Park River District, Steve ‘TBerry’ Young, has provided exceptional leadership throughout the southeastern corner of Utah for the past 22 years as an employee with the National Park Service (NPS). TBerry has shaped the river program that is responsible for protecting the Green and Colorado Rivers through Stillwater, Meander, and Cataract Canyons. He has been a member of the River Management Society (RMS) for several decades and has supported the organization in more ways than we can remember. He and his team participated in the 2009 Southwest Chapter River Ranger Rendezvous in Green River, hosted a 2010 RMS Southwest Chapter float through Cataract Canyon, and facilitated discussions during the 2019 Southwest Chapter River Ranger Rendezvous on the Colorado River through Ruby Horsethief and Westwater Canyons.

TBerry supports and mentors the park’s river rangers and all of the NPS employees in the Southeast Utah Group of parks: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Natural Bridges, and Hovenweep National Monuments.  This includes providing essential training and guidance on river operations and needs such as boat operations and swift water rescue.  Each year his program partners with American Conservation Experience, Student Conservation Association, and other intern programs to mentor and develop future river stewards instilling conservation techniques and sharing a passion for all aspects of river management.  There are many river rangers and land managers that have been trained by TBerry and they continue to teach and train others. Every year, TBerry and his team complete a myriad of river projects, including removal and chemical treatment of non-native invasive vegetation (including use of his personally fabricated innovative tripod tamarisk stump puller), revegetation and associated irrigation projects as well as cultural and archeological site monitoring and protection, campsite/trail/boat ramp maintenance, river launch education programs, law enforcement operations, high water safety operations and permit compliance checks among other projects.

He works across all the park’s divisions, including the Law Enforcement, Interpretation, Education, and Visitor Services Division, and provides annual educational river trips for park employees.  He works closely with the park’s commercial concession operators, organizing bi-annual river trips to promote and support collaborative relationships and river stewardship.  He is a primary leader for the park’s search and rescue program, acting as the Incident Commander for large, often lifesaving incidents throughout the parks. He fills the role of Incident Commander for other emergency operations, including wildland fire and law enforcement. He has fostered an excellent working relationship and regularly collaborates with Grand and San Juan County Search and Rescue Programs (SAR).  He has participated in countless interagency SAR operations during his tenure with the NPS. For more than two decades, TBerry has assisted Grand County SAR (GCSAR) with river operations, search management, and high-angle rope rescue training as an instructor. TBerry was a founding member and leader of the Grand County Winter Rescue Team and created the framework, training, and organizational structure for the very successful volunteer team of over-snow rescue personnel that continues today (the snow melts and flows into the river). TBerry’s expertise in river operations and equipment is sought by Grand County SAR leadership in terms of new river equipment purchases, repairs, and maintenance of specialized river equipment.

He has a unique personality that focuses on the value of the resource. He consistently aims to educate visitors and improve their understanding while crafting his messaging so everyone can relate to and understand the message(s).

  • Initiating and leading a park effort to begin a visitor use management effort for the river corridors with an eventual comprehensive river management plan
  • Working tirelessly to address boat ramp issues and needs outside of but critical to the park’s river users
  • Supporting and shaping Leave No Trace messaging efforts and campaigns for the river and backcountry permit program
  • Obtaining and leading a project to paint artistic murals in backcountry toilets at boat ramps and backcountry campsites
  • Leading a complicated operation to remove a vehicle from the Green River after an unfortunate accident

TBerry’s influence and leadership extend beyond the river program, supporting the protection of the entire connected park and surrounding lands.  A prime example is a project he led to repair an existing fence and build a new flood fence in a very remote section of the highly treasured Horseshoe Canyon, the location of the protected Great Gallery archeological site.  Wild burros from surrounding public lands threatened the sensitive riparian canyon bottom and the surrounding archeological resources.  Fencing, including a robust flood fence, was considered the best option for protecting this area and deterring additional damage from the burros.  TBerry fabricated a fence that was relatively easy to install and cost-effective, which was essential given the remote nature of the area. He also leads patrols of other areas of the park, often heading up efforts to repair damaged areas and park facilities. His efforts to protect the uplands directly affect the riparian canyons and river corridor by reducing erosion, the spread of non-native invasive plants, and protecting a relic genetically intact herd of bighorn sheep from interaction with wild burros. If left to wander freely, the wild burros would find their way to the river and create irreparable damage.

TBerry and the river program have recently taken ownership and are maintaining the Canyonlands National Park wildland fire type 6 engine. This engine is available to assist with interagency fire and rescue needs that benefit National Parks and the neighboring lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Utah State Parks, and the United States Forest Service. TBerry saw a need to maintain this engine and took over the responsibility to ensure its functionality and availability.

TBerry continues to advance the field of river management through science, education, interpretation, research, and law enforcement, and he does so with diligence and a unique style. Drawing from his work as a guide before joining the NPS, he uses his awareness of commercial and private whitewater operations to develop effective, fair evaluation practices and strategies for working with river guides.  He is excellent at relating to commercial operators; listening to responses to management practices and needs.  Each year he represents the NPS at the Utah Guide and Outfitters annual meeting to ensure he is listening and working with the guiding community.  Over the past few years, he has supported and worked closely with the Returning Rapids Project (, providing valuable insight from his many years on and familiarity with the Colorado River.  He has assisted with numerous other science-based projects in the park. He works closely with the park’s Special Use Permit program to manage activities in support of preserving park resources and visitor experiences.

A current seasonal employee, returning for his fifth season stated, “TBerry has always gone above and beyond in mentoring employees, everything from basic boating skills to far-reaching river management level decision-making.  This has prepared me to grow into the next generation of river managers.”

TBerry leads the river Law Enforcement operation with the stated goal of “solving problems before they need enforcement action.”  Rather than simply write tickets to violators in the field, TBerry and his staff focus the program on early communication with river users to prevent violations before they cause resource damage.  He updates permit information and provides a boater information packet for each river permit before their launch.  TBerry built the staffing in the river district to allow River Rangers to check in the majority of river users at the ramp.  This approach has significantly reduced resource damage and led to a more cooperative relationship with the boating community.

TBerry is innovative and embraces the challenge of adaptive river management. His unique skill set includes welding aluminum to fabricating frames, gear, and equipment for the river program saving program funds, and filling the program needs. TBerry has led the way in developing and maintaining a river management framework based on an outdated river management plan from 1979, that does not adequately address the dynamic current and future visitor use.  This has required him to rely on his extensive knowledge of river users and park resources, work with an interdisciplinary team, and rely on adaptive management efforts.  A prime example is his development of specific stipulations for pack raft users in the Cataract Canyon corridor to ensure the NPS goals of safety and resource protection while also recognizing the uniqueness of the user group. He modified the permit structure and regulations to embrace the new type of use. TBerry recently purchased an electric boat motor to facilitate efficient, quieter patrols and emergency response. The new motor reduces the auditory impact on visitors resulting in a more pristine wilderness experience. He has put in countless hours securing funding and support for a robust river operation and river permit operation that focuses on connecting visitors to the park.

In addition, he continues to coordinate with Glen Canyon National Recreation Area regarding the management of the take-out options for Cataract Canyon, formerly Hite Marina and now North Wash, for both commercial and private boaters. TBerry leads the management activities in the transition zone between Cataract Canyon and Lake Powell.  As the lake level drops, a dynamic river zone is constantly in flux, and the river currents carve through decades of lake mud deposits.  TBerry has managed this area for the continued recreational use of boaters by investing staff resources into clearing dense invasive species from the mud benches to allow for campsite development.  A register of active campsites is kept constantly updated so that boaters can plan for the shifting conditions.  He has been instrumental in developing and modifying safe take-out procedures at the North Wash primitive take-out.  Due to fluctuating lake levels, this take-out can vary from a simple dirt ramp to 70 yards of uneven mud on a 26-degree slope.  Take-outs often involve high tension winch operations pulling the 5000 pounds NPS Snout rigs up the slope on roller tubes.  TBerry continually updates procedures and materials to make this operation safe and communicates this information to the NPS concessionaire partners and the public.

TBerry’s influence, leadership, and partnership extend beyond the National Park Service, as evidenced by his well established relationship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the State of Utah, State Parks and Forestry Fire and State Lands Sovereign Lands Program, as well as the United States Forest Service and Grand and San Juan Counties. TBerry and his team have assisted the BLM for many years and have been involved consistently since 2009 in providing logistical support for non-native vegetation removal trips in Westwater Canyon. They have conducted numerous rescues and extractions in Westwater Canyon by sharing their expertise and unique equipment. TBerry’s river program staff have been instrumental in assisting the BLM with suppressing human-caused wildfires along the Green and Colorado rivers and aiding with the fire investigation. In addition, TBerry utilized his welding skills to fabricate a ‘water deck gun’ to spray water on wildfires along the riverbank from a jet boat.

Each year there is an interagency river managers meeting to discuss policies, regulations, new management issues, and challenges. TBerry is a highly valued member who contributes significantly and always seeks solutions. He and his team provide a regular presence at the Mineral Bottom boat ramp conducting permit and required gear compliance checks with boaters, as well as cleaning toilet facilities, irrigating native Cottonwoods that will hopefully grow and provide shade to the area and talking with boaters and recreationists of all types: mountain bikes, OHVs, BASE jumpers and campers. The river crew is always willing to work with partners to successfully manage the shared river corridors, assist with management challenges regardless of jurisdiction and encourage stewardship while increasing the knowledge and appreciation of recreationists.

The most recent innovation TBerry has embraced is working with an Artist in the Park to paint murals inside two vault toilets located at the Mineral Bottom boat ramp along the Green River. The interior toilet murals depict an underwater scene with native fish and amphibians, as well as geology and the history of boat travel from John Wesley Powell to the present-day river runners. The hope is that people will gain a better understanding of the local wildlife and history while also being respectful of the murals painted inside the toilet buildings (‘Choose a loo with a view’ says Moab artist Pete ‘PiMo’ Apicella – The Times-Independent (

TBerry is an outstanding advocate for professional river management and clearly shares his vision with visitors, river guides, concessionaires, interns, volunteers, fellow employees, interagency partners, and elected representatives. In time, he will retire from NPS Law Enforcement, and we hope that he will find a way to continue working on and around the rivers and unique riparian areas in the desert lands that surround Moab.