Mike Zieker is Salem’s first and current park ranger. He has held the position since January 2017. His responsibilities include patrolling Wallace Marine, Marion Square and Riverfront Parks as well as the Salem portion of Minto Brown Park.
It is a sprawling area of over 1,000 acres with more than 25 miles of paved and dirt trails, territory Mike generally covers on his bicycle, year round, rain or shine.
Zieker, raised near Albany, New York, acquired his love of the outdoors in his youth while exploring the vast Adirondack State Park. Among other adventures he assisted in a number of climbs up the long trail to the summit of historic Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in New York.
His interests led him West. He graduated from Oregon State and worked as a park ranger both with Oregon State Parks and in Colorado. Asked about working outside year round in Oregon rain, he says, “Our rain is nothing compared to the snow and ice of Colorado.”
As Salem’s park ranger Zieker’s duties involve enforcing park regulations. He is not a policeman assigned to enforce the criminal law. Instead, he sees that pets are leashed where appropriate, that bans on smoking and camping are respected, that the prohibition on swimming from docks is followed and similar park rules are maintained. He does not provide lifeguard services at Wallace Marine Park.
Before Salem built the Courtney Bridge, some were concerned that it would be used by transients who would overrun Minto Brown Park. Zieker has not seen this development; rather he says he gets “to see and interact with park users enjoying the new bridge.”
Zieker’s duties take him throughout the four parks on a daily basis. Park users welcome his presence and often he can guide them or answer questions.
Their support and the chance to roam these scenic grounds are why he loves his job.