Web Extra: Friends with the Devils
Texas Highways intern Brenna Burkarth interviews Devils State Natural Area Park Ranger Emmitt Brotherton.
How long have you been a park ranger?
Have you worked at any other parks before? Which ones?
Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site
What do you like most/least about being a park ranger at the Devils River State Natural Area?
The thing I like the best is making it available to the public, you know, making it a good, safe park for the public. I like working, if I can, outdoors. The thing I like the least is the paperwork.
Describe what a normal day is like for you? What are your duties?
I spend a lot of my time in the office doing administrative work. That’s because I’m the manager and that’s what I do. I do some park patrol and park maintenance.
What is unique about working at Devils River?
Devils River is very remote, very distant. We’re out here by ourselves. There’s no stores; if you don’t have it with you, you don’t have it. The nights are beautiful, there’s no lights to mess it up. And the stars, you just feel like you can reach up and grab them. It’s just really pretty out here, especially if you can catch it right after rain. My favorite time is just after a rain because everything starts blooming and the animals come out and everything, it’s just a lot prettier.
What is your favorite recreational activity in the park?
I like exploring, you know, hiking down these canyons . There’s lots to see out here. I like really doing it all. We have a bunch of bird researchers right now and it’s really interesting to talk to them about the birds. And then we’ve got some archeologists doing some work here and it’s interesting. Just what we do—preserve the flora, the fauna, the cultural and natural resources.
What is the most beautiful site in the park?
It’s all pretty. I just like Golden Creek itself. It’s phenomenal, it changes at every water crossing and runs almost through the middle of the park in the canyon.
Do you have a favorite campsite?
I live here on the park, so this would be my residence. Occasionally, we [the park rangers] sit outside with a cold glass of tea and take field glasses and do a little bird watching. We check the animals, see if there’s any deer, that’s fun.
How do you think the facilities at Devils River State Natural Area compare with facilities at other Texas state parks?
Our facilities are pretty rustic. They’re adequate and nice, but just updated on what was here. They fit the natural area. We’ve got old hunting cabins that have been made into bunkhouses, and of course, the bathrooms and showers are already in there, and so we just fixed them up. It’s more like home than a commercial-type park.
What didn’t get into the article that you would like to have read?
I thought it was perfect for the concept of traveling the Devils River. It wasn’t just about the park, but what you could see traveling the loop on Devils River. They hit it just right, they sure did.
According to Ranger Brotherton, he has received several phone calls on Dolan Falls, which is not open to the public. The story says the Devils River has water in it all the way to Sonora. However, currently it only has water about 3 miles above the Hwy. 163 crossing.
From the June 2012 issue.