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HomeNewsArchivesOn Island Profile: Mark Marschall

On Island Profile: Mark Marschall

March 2, 2007 — V.I. National Park Chief Ranger Mark Marschall can't think of one thing he doesn't like about St. John.
"I really enjoy the people I've been working with," he says. "It's such a nice blend of people born and raised here and people from other parts of the country."
Marschall says he likes the variety that comes with his job, with each day different than the one before. He also enjoys the challenges, including protecting the natural resources. In particular, he says, he likes protecting the coral reefs because they've come under attack from things like anchor damage and problems caused by boats running aground.
"I feel like rangers can prevent damage through enforcement," he says.
Protecting the conch and fish from people bent on illegal fishing gives Marschall satisfaction, and he likes protecting the turtles.
A native of Biloxi, Miss., Marschall, 53, took the chief ranger's post in October 2006, moving to St. John after spending most of his working life in the granddaddy of all national parks, Yellowstone. He started out pumping gas at one of Yellowstone National Park's service stations while still a student at Ohio State University, a job that convinced him to change his major from computer science to natural-resources management.
"I realized I loved being in the park and at the gas station," he says. "I realized I enjoyed giving information and explaining the natural history of the park."
That realization and the switch in majors made him enjoy the rest of his college career even more, Marschall says. After graduation, he returned to Yellowstone as a naturalist. In 1979, he switched gears to the park's law-enforcement team, and worked most of the next few decades as a back-country ranger.
In 2001, he moved to Yosemite National Park in California because his fiance, Joy, had moved there. The couple has since married.
Even though the National Park Service labels its St. John posts a hardship with tough living conditions, in many ways St. John life is easier than living in Yellowstone or Yosemite, Marschall says. Those parks were a long way from anywhere and, in the case of Yellowstone, required a three-hour drive for major grocery shopping. In Yosemite, it took only one and a half hours on the road to get groceries.
"Even getting on the barge, the grocery stores are closer," he says.
Except for fresh produce, Marschall says he doesn't find the grocery store prices too shocking compared to California. Gas is more expensive, he says.
"But then, you don't drive that far," he says.
And Marschall says St. John offers a choice of 30 or so restaurants, a far cry from the few concession restaurants available at Yellowstone and Yosemite.
The nuts and bolts of St. John life aside, Marschall says he finds the scenery wonderful. He says he always thought the Yosemite Valley was beautiful, and almost surreal with its cliffs and waterfalls. However, he says, St. John is just as lovely with its beautiful water, palm trees and pelicans flying overhead.
"And I always liked warm, humid weather," he says.
Marschall and his wife enjoy every minute of their free time.
"We've been going to the beaches and entertaining a lot of guests," he says, laughing.
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