Rangers of Fort Casey

A day in the life of a Fort Casey State Park ranger
by Carlos Snellenberg-Fraser

The rangers who guard, care for, and protect the Fort Casey State Park wear many hats in their roles, and Brett Bayne can attest to the unique set of challenges that rangers are presented with. 

Bayne, a park ranger III operations manager at Fort Casey, did an internship through Western Washington University in 1986, grew up on the south end of Whidbey Island, and has been a Fort Casey Ranger for about 30 years. 

Brett Bayne, a Fort Casey Ranger, stands next to his patrol truck.
Photo by Carlos Snellenberg-Fraser

“A day in the life of a ranger at all levels at some degree, we wear tons of hats. Pretty much everything you can think of, we do,” Bayne said. “Overall, I consider our positions to be caretakers and stewards. We are janitors, landscapers, gardeners, police, equipment operators, teachers, a ton of stuff, and we deal with wildlife.”

Bayne explained that just recently, the park rangers responded to an injured owl. They were able to transport it to an animal hospital safely, and they have even had people bring baby seals to the ranger’s office. According to Bayne, his favorite part of being a ranger is that no days are the same.

“There is always something new going on. For example, we just got back from our yearly weeklong law enforcement training at Fort Warden,” Bayne said. “It is just the diversity of the job, doing something different every day.”

While Bayne often enjoys the work he does, sometimes he is confronted with people who don’t have respect for the park and at times damage the property with graffiti or litter. 

“The not-so-fun part is dealing with people who don’t respect the park and are trying to do harm or bother other people,” Bayne said. 

Bayne explained that there are often volunteer events and community volunteer work on the site. 

“We have everything from scout troops out here doing their campouts and doing service projects for us, on up to more organized things,” Bayne said. “We have a friends group that volunteers, they actually have a tool trailer that we provide and take to them, and they do larger projects. The Navy also comes out to help with things.”

He said that there used to be three separately managed parks, but when the recession hit, the rangers expanded their coverage to all three parks; Fort Ebey, Fort Casey and South Whidbey. 

“We take care of everything from Joseph Whidbey all the way to the South End close to the ferry at Possession Point. It takes close to an hour to get from one point to the other,” Bayne said. 

Bayne explained that their staffing was reduced in the past years, but that they are slowly building up. He said during the pandemic, they were busier than other areas. During the initial lockdown, Bayne frequently found himself alone at Fort Casey, but he said he enjoyed the revival of wildlife around the property. 

“We were just as busy, if not busier, than other areas because we were the only game in town. You couldn’t go out to dinner, you couldn’t go to sporting events, but we were open, except for the initial complete lockdown,” Bayne said. 

Now that the pandemic is easing and people are enjoying the parks again, Bayne’s role is getting busier. 

To learn more about Fort Casey State Park, click here