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Defending Park Safety

The publicity generated by the Yosemite murders may cause some vacationers to alter their plans, but a spokesman for the National Park Service tells CBS This Morning that such fears are unwarranted.

"I think all the national parks are among the safest places in America," says Destry Jarvis, director for external affairs at the National Park Service.

There are about 1,500 rangers employed by the National Park Service, deployed across the 83 million acres of the national park system. Sites that attract the most visitors, like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone, are assigned more rangers than more remote parks, like in Alaska.

But, says Jarvis, the presence of rangers is not the only safety measure made available by the National Park Service.

"Our No. 1 task is educating those visitors before they get to the park," he explains. "They do want to relax but we want them safe."

Visitors are asked to familiarize themselves with their surroundings, studying maps and talking to rangers.

"Campgrounds and national parks are like small towns," explains the ranger. "Like any other place, you have to be aware of what is going on around you. You have to tell people where you're going. You have to hike in groups or at least in a couple. Not alone."

As for the high-profile murders in and around Yosemite, Jarvis calls them isolated, tragic incidents.

"We believe that the ranger force in Yosemite was involved in the solution to this tragedy," he says, "and we think it is an isolated incident relative to the 300 million visits that the national parks will get this year."

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