BLM Law Enforcement Ranger Achieves Unique Status
BLM Kremmling Field Office Law Enforcement Ranger Rebecca Merritt is the first permanent female Law Enforcement Officer to wear the badge of four Federal land management agencies. International Game Warden Magazine recently featured an article touting her achievement and touching on highlights of her career.
As the daughter of parents in law enforcement, Merritt did not initially consider a law enforcement career. A childhood of camping, hunting, and fishing instilled in her a strong love of the outdoors. She started out studying medical microbiology and immunology at the University of Wisconsin. AmeriCorps caught her eye during her final year at the university and she became a seasonal interpretive ranger on the Tongass National Forest. That experience led to her interest in natural resources and she finished her degree with a blend of biology and natural resources management.
Like many federal employees, Merritt’s career began with seasonal positions with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. Her first permanent positions were with the U.S. Forest Service working in fire. After a few years of working up through the fire ranks, Merritt began to consider a career in natural resource law enforcement. She graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 2007, becoming a third generation law enforcement officer.
Merritt’s first LEO position with the U.S. Forest Service lasted about one year. She then switched agencies to be closer to her husband who worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon. Merritt spent five years as a refuge officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Her patrol area of Oregon and Washington was extensive and kept Merritt busy traveling, eradicating marijuana grows, doing undercover work, and doing investigations.
In 2014, Merritt’s husband moved to Missoula, Montana. After more than a year of commuting between Washington and Montana, she became a Park Ranger at Glacier National Park, where she was in the thick of interacting with visitors, providing medical support, conducting search-and-rescue, responding to wildfires, and handling bear and other wildlife management issues.
After five years with the National Park Service, Merritt’s husband retired, creating an opportunity for another career change. Always a fan of Colorado, Merritt began looking around and found an opportunity for a Law Enforcement Ranger with the BLM in Kremmling, Colorado. Her outstanding experience, diversity of knowledge and skills, enthusiasm, and proven law enforcement track record made it easy for hiring officials to select Merritt for the position in November of 2019. After two decades and four federal land management agencies, Merritt still loves the job and welcomes work each day. She aspires to be a role model for young women who are considering a career in natural resource management.
Merritt frequently hears the question: “Which agency should I work for?” It is one that she can answer with expertise. She plans to spend the rest of her career wearing BLM khaki, and her coworkers are happy to hear it.