Rattlesnakes, overgrown brush concern former Rider Park ranger

Since former Rider Park ranger Ron Beach left that voluntary position last summer, he has been thinking quite a bit about how the 867-acre park and its 15 miles of trails are being maintained.

He admitted he resigned because he was not at all “pleased with the decisions” being made by the managers of the park. Also stepping down were volunteers Larry Gehr and Harry “Skip” Stackhouse, two men who were very dedicated workers, Beach said.

“The park was left to the people of Lycoming County,” said Beach, who, as a volunteer, also oversaw maintenance of the park.

“I’m concerned that nobody is really doing maintenance,” said Beach, who visits the park on a regular basis.

“It’s not being cared for the way it used to be,” Beach said, adding that he fears many open fields are likely going to be “overgrown” with brush.

He believes the park’s maintenance is going by the wayside.

“The trails are not being maintained the way they should be. Vistas have to be cleared every so often because brush keeps growing up or you’re not going to have the clear views to look out and see,” said Beach, a retired employee from both the state Department of Transportation and the state Game Commission.

“Some of the trails are being maintained, but I certainly believe others are not,” said Beach, a native of Balls Mills.

He also shared a concern he had regarding what he sees as a public safety issue in the park.

“There is a lot of wildlife in the park,” he said. The park is part of Eldred and Gamble townships.

“The park is a godsend to the people of Lycoming County. They have a treasure here. I have a love for that park,” said Beach, who has four children and three grandchildren.

“I’m sure that people who use the park on a regular basis can see that it is not being maintained.”

A lot of hikers and bikers who use the park are “oblivious” to what’s there, he said.

“There are lots of rattlesnakes. There is a healthy population of black bears and everything in between,” Beach said.

In the 15 years he served as a park ranger, Beach investigated a handful of cases of dogs being bit by rattlesnakes and one dog mauled by a bear.

“Any time you combine wildlife with people and their pets, you’re going to have conflict,” he said.

He remembers an incident – when he was a park ranger – when a female rattlesnake gave birth to eight rattlesnakes.

“She was one and there were perhaps others congregated there. So at one time, you could easily have anywhere from four to 15 rattlesnakes just in one area. Concerned about public safety, I would put up ‘Restricted Area’ signs” in an effort to keep hikers and walkers with their dogs clear.

“To my knowledge, I don’t believe there is any law enforcement in the park at all,” Beach said, adding that his position never was filled after he left.

“I’m concerned about the rattlesnakes on the trails. If you let you dog run loose in the park, it’s going to go on the trail, and I’m afraid it could get bit,” Beach said.