Tourist trail hit by Countryside Rangers cuts

Council cutbacks to the Countryside Ranger Service from seven staff to just two in Galloway could have a major impact on the region’s primary tourist attractions, according to elected members.

At Monday night’s meeting of Wigtown and District Community Council, local councillors had concerns that the lack of a ranger service to organise projects and walks for visitors to the Dark Sky Park, the Forest Park and the Wigtown Bay Nature Reserve could see these unique attractions go to “rack and ruin” because of the current financial squeeze on local authority.

Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes said: “This is really worrying for the staff as their department has not quite been decimated but it’s akin to being obliterated. This will impact on this part of the world because there is a compelling reason for these services here.”

A council spokesman said: “The Council recognises the importance of the region’s natural assets and is focusing on developing strategic projects that will bring in additional funding to support the role that the natural environment plays in the regional economy. Under the terms of the Council’s retirement process, the post will not be replaced and alternative arrangements have been put in place to ensure support is available for sites across the region. The Council is actively working with partners to support other key areas of work within the region, such as the Biosphere and the Dark Sky Park, and has committed to funding in partnership the delivery of a three-year project to promote and enhance the Biosphere and the Dark Skies Park, which has seen the redevelopment of the Biosphere Website, communications and branding strategy, Sense of Place toolkit, Dark Skies Rangers, and work to support signage across the region.”