National Park Service Launches Investigation After Bullet Hits Ranger’s Vehicle at Petrified Forest

by Emily Morgan

The National Park Service is investigating an incident in which a bullet from a gunshot struck an unmarked National Park Service vehicle at Petrified Forest National Park. The incident occurred on Tuesday in northeastern Arizona.

According to a press release from the park service, the NPS and various law enforcement agencies are now looking into the shooting that occurred in the morning.

Two NPS employees were in the car when the bullet struck the vehicle. However, no one was injured, according to the release.

Currently, the main park road is open during e park’s regular operating hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, following the shooting, officials closed multiple trails on Tuesday.

The Blue Mesa Loop Road and all trails leading into the Blue Mesa area within the park are closed until further notice. According to the release, this will give law enforcement access to the roads.

In addition, authorities have not yet identified any suspects, and the investigation is ongoing.

In a much happier story, visitors to Petrified Forest National Park now have a new space to let their dogs off-leash. The park’s new dog park, aptly dubbed the Petrified Fur-Rest Bark Park, is located near the Painted Desert Visitor Center.

Petrified Forest National Park now home to new bark park

The new puppy park was constructed with the help of Petrified Forest maintenance staff, Youth Conservation Corps participants, and a local Girl Scout member.

The Bark Park includes two separate areas, one for big dogs and one for small dogs. In addition, owners have their own benches to use.

Park Manager Jeannine McElveen conceived the initial idea for the project. “We get so many visitors traveling along Interstate 40 with their dogs,” she said in an interview.

“I kept seeing people walking their dogs in the area where the dog park is now located. It just seemed like a great place to build something fenced where dogs can safely be off leash.”

Soon after the idea was born, Elizabeth Parker, a local girl scout, wanted to help in any way she could.

“I worked for two summers at Petrified Forest with the YCC crew,” Parker said. “When I heard the park manager was considering creating a dog park, I immediately went to talk with her and came up with a plan for my Gold Award Project.”

As a result of her work, Parker was later awarded the Girl Scout Gold Award. The award is the highest in the girl scouts and is awarded to less than 6 percent of Girl Scouts annually.

“I’ve grown up going to National Parks,” she said. “My family has visited many of the national parks over the years. My brother and I have the national park passport stamps to prove it.”

Now, visitors and their pups seem to enjoy the dog park. It’s also the only official dog park inside a national park. Plans for additional shade structures and more wheelchair-accessible parts are also being constructed.