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Palo Cedro man receives rare National Park Service honor

Dick Martin
By Dylan Darling
Dec. 26, 2008

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Although it's been three years since he hung up his flat-brimmed hat for good, a Palo Cedro man only recently was honored for his four decades as a park ranger.

The National Park Service honored Dick Martin, 70, with the Harry Yount Award for Lifetime Achievement in "rangering" earlier this month. Martin said he's the sixth recipient of the award in its 20-year history.

"Dick Martin is the quintessential ranger," said Mary Bomar, Park Service director.

The award is named after a 19th-century outdoorsman who is considered the first park ranger, according to the Park Service.

During his 43 years on the job, Martin worked in numerous national parks, including Yosemite, Death Valley, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

He retired as superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon near Fresno in 2005. Martin said he'd been drawn to being a ranger by the work environment.

"I'm basically an outdoors lover," Martin said.

As a ranger, he said, that meant learning to love working outside when weather was good and sunny or bad and stormy.

And while the job sometimes took him to the back corners of the different parks' backcountry, Martin said the public always played a major part.

"You have to really like people," he said.

Martin said he couldn't single out a national park among those he worked at he preferred.

"It's kind of like trying to decide which one of your children is your favorite," Martin said.

Of Martin's four grown children - three boys and a girl - only one of the boys followed in his boot steps and became a park ranger.

His wife, Mary Martin, has connections with the Park Service though, having served as the superintendent at Lassen Volcanic National Park for two years before retiring last summer.

Mary Martin said the two, who have been wed for 23 years, met and married in Yosemite.

She said her husband wasn't expecting to receive the award, which the Park Service presented at an annual meeting for the Association of National Park Rangers in Santa Fe, N.M.

"I don't think I've ever seen him so surprised," Martin said.

Reporter Dylan Darling can be reached at 225-8266 or ddarling@redding.com.

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