Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Summer is Ending -NO!

Hard to believe summer has ended and meadow roving is slowing down.  This Sunday, October 5, will be the last day for Rovers at Sunrise.  The radios at the White River Wilderness Information Center will be returned to winter storage on Monday the 6th.  The following weekend will be the last for Paradise.  Sadly, my time will end on the Monday the 12th.  I wish to thank all of you for your dedication to keeping the meadows of Sunrise and Paradise from being loved to death.  I could not do the job without you!

One last project remains - to determine the Meadow Rover(s) of the Year.  For this, I need your nominations.  This award is not based solely on the number of hours, but also on the contributions these volunteers have made to educating the public and fellow rovers.  So send me your nominees-via the mora_meadow_rovers@nps.gov  with a brief description as to why you feel they are worthy of this honor.  I will need these by October 10th to allow time for a decision before the end of my season. 

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Tinkering under the hood: national VIP policies now available for public input

The National Park Service's Volunteers-in-Parks program is governed by a set of policies collectively called "Director's Order #7." This policy document is updated periodically to reflect current needs and issues. The last version was enacted almost ten years ago, in June of 2005. A new draft has just been released, and is now open for internal comment through November 10 and public comment through October 26. Here is the complete announcement from our national office (editorial clarifications added in [brackets]):


Memorandum

To:                   National Leadership Council
From:               Chief, Office of Policy
Subject:           Review of Director's Order #7:  Volunteers-in-Parks

The subject Director’s Order--which will supersede and replace the previous version approved by Director Mainella on June 13, 2005--is attached for your [internal] review and comment for a 45-day period, ending November 10, 2014.  

In FY 2012, 257,000 volunteers contributed 6.78 million hours of service to the National Park Service (NPS).  This contribution was valued at $21.79 per hour, for a total value of $148 million, equivalent to 3,260 FTEs.

This edition updates the 2005 Order as follows:
  • The Volunteers-in-Parks program is now administered by the Associate Director, Interpretation and Education.
  • Volunteer reimbursement procedures have been updated as a result of IRS audit findings and newly obtained information on volunteers and travel procedures, in such a way that reimbursements do not create tax liabilities for volunteers.
  • NPS volunteer agreement forms have been eliminated and replaced with an interagency volunteer agreement form, OF 301A.
  • HSPD-12 [Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12] information has been added with guidance for the conduct of background investigations.  Volunteer fee collectors operating a fee booth or station with a point-of-sales system will now be required to undergo an MBI background investigation.
  • Qualified volunteers will now be allowed to apply pesticides.

The draft Order is the subject of a Federal Register notice published on September 26, 2014, inviting comment from the public for a 30-day period.

Joy Pietschmann, the Service-wide VIP Program Manager, will field any comments or questions about the attached Order.  She can be contacted at joy_pietschmann@nps.gov or 202-513-7141.

The draft Order is available online at:  
http://www.nps.gov/policy/Draft_DO7_2014.htm

For comparison, the existing (active) Director's Order can be found at http://www.nps.gov/policy/DOrders/DO-7.htm.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Road Construction Update

Road construction is scheduled Monday to Friday. It begins at sunrise and continues up to 6 PM. Expect up to a 30-minute delay.

Ricksecker Point and Paradise Valley Road (the one-way road from Paradise to Stevens Canyon Road) closed for the season on September 2 and road repairs have begun. Since these areas are at higher elevations, they are more likely to see snow than the lower section of the Nisqually to Paradise Road. Weather permitting, shoulder work, paving and striping continues at Ricksecker Point and the Paradise Valley Road until finished.

Once the construction listed above is complete, the equipment will move down hill. Again, weather dependent, paving and striping will then begin on the road from the Nisqually Entrance to Longmire. This is not expected to start until mid-October.

New guard rails have been installed on the road where Kautz Creek currently flows. Expect minor delays for a few days until this work is completed.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Checking in about National Public Lands Day

Our biggest volunteer day of the year is just a day and a half away now! Plans are coming together to offer a wide variety of projects suitable for everyone. Here's a summary of what's happening:

Saturday September 27, 2014

  • All Day: Entrance fees are waived in all National Parks! Working volunteers will receive a fee free certificate that can be used at any national park on a different date.
     
  • 8:00 a.m. (Longmire): Registration, by the National Parks Conservation Association, will begin at their tent in front of the Transportation Exhibit, between the bathroom and the National Park Inn.
     
  • 9:00 a.m. (Longmire): Welcome by the Acting Superintendent and Volunteer Program Manager, followed by the introduction of project crew leaders.
     
  • 9:00 a.m. (Sunrise): Crew leaders will meet planting volunteers in front of the Sunrise Visitor Center.
     
  • 3:00 p.m.: Most work will wrap up mid to late afternoon. However, if you need to leave earlier, that's O.K. too -- just let your crew leader know.

Weather Forecast 
  • Partly sunny. Freezing level near 9500 feet. (That's about as perfect as a September work day can get!)

Projects
  • Skyline Trail
    Location: Skyline Trail between the Visitor Center and Alta Vista
    Project: Finalizing and cleaning up a trail project that has been going on all summer
     
  • Paradise Trail Winterization
    Location: Trails above Paradise, including Deadhorse Creek and Skyline
    Project: Taking down ropes, bringing in rebar, and preparing trails for the coming snow
     
  • Narada Falls Trail
    Location: Between Narada Falls and the Wonderland Trail
    Project: Building a turnpike with the Washington Trails Association for a muddy section of trail
     
  • Longmire Campground Winterization
    Location: Longmire Stewardship Campground
    Project: Taking down platform tents and storing them for the winter; scattering storm debris; stacking and storing firewood; and otherwise preparing the campground for winter
     
  • Longmire Landscaping
    Location: LongmireProject: Remove alders and conifers growing within 18-24 inches of the rock-lined trails throughout Longmire
     
  • Sunrise Campground Restoration
    Location: 1 mile hike from Sunrise Visitor Center
    Project: Planting native plants in the old Sunrise Campground
    Note: Meet for this project at 9:00 a.m. in the Sunrise Parking Lot
Objectives
  • Have a safe, fun day contributing to the stewardship of our National Park!
  • Finish up some important work and prepare the park for the coming winter
  • Improve trails and meadows for the enjoyment of visitors
Thank you for your participation in this year's National Public Lands Day!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Volunteers will work on trails and campground restoration at Mount Rainier on National Public Lands Day, September 27; Entrance fees waived


Mount Rainier National Park will celebrate National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 27, 2014, with several volunteer projects open to public participation. The work day caps a busy summer in which nearly 2,000 people have contributed to the protection of Mount Rainier’s natural and cultural treasures and helped serve its visitors.


National Public Lands Day is an annual celebration of public involvement in the stewardship of America’s national, state, and local parks and forests. More than 170,000 individuals are expected to participate in events all over the country. In recognition of this, entrance fees will be waived at all national parks for the day. Volunteers will receive an additional coupon for free admission on a day of their choice.


Members of the public are invited to join in the day’s work. The National Parks Conservation Association will help coordinate registration for the event beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Longmire, six miles inside the southwest entrance to the park. After a brief welcome at 9:00, participants will divide into work groups. The Washington Trails Association and Park Service crew leaders will lead trail maintenance projects at Paradise, while other crews will winterize a campground at Longmire that is used by volunteers, school groups, and other park partners. Trail work is suitable for ages 16 and up, while campground maintenance is good for all ages. Additional projects may be added as well.


Another project, revegetating a former campground near Sunrise, will put a small number of volunteers to work on the east side of the national park. Volunteers interested in planting should meet crew leaders in front of the Sunrise Visitor Center at 9:00 a.m. and plan for a mile-long hike to the project location. This project can only accept about a dozen volunteers. Please RSVP to Kevin Bacher at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov. Volunteers should come prepared for cool, wet weather, with warm clothing, rain gear, sturdy footwear, and gloves. Knee pads are also recommended for planting. If the weather is nice, sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats are recommended. Volunteers should also bring water, snacks, and a lunch.


Free camping at the Longmire Campground is available both the day before and after National Public Lands Day for event participants. Kevin Bacher at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov to reserve a campsite.


Volunteers at Mount Rainier National Park maintain trails, patrol park roads and wilderness areas, assist and educate visitors, conduct research as citizen scientists, and plant native plants. Last year, 1,784 volunteers contributed 62,736 hours of service, an effort valued at $1.4 million.


Information about Mount Rainier’s volunteer program, including a list of open positions, a calendar of activities, and pictures and videos of volunteers in action may be found on Mount Rainier National Park’s website at www.nps.gov/mora, or on its volunteer program blog at rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com.

- NPS -

Monday, September 15, 2014

Road Construction Update

Road construction is scheduled for Monday, September 15 to Friday, September 19, from 8:15 am to 6:00 pm. Plan for a maximum 30-minute
delay, including multiple short stops along the seven mile road.

  • Work continues at the Westside Road intersection.
  • Guardrails will be installed at the double culverts in the Kautz area.
  • Ricksecker and the Valley Road remain closed for the season.
  • Some paving near Longmire should begin toward the end of the week.
  • The paving schedule is weather dependent and subject to change.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Toadlets are Here!

Received the following message from our amphibian biologist - Scott Anderson:

I checked Tipsoo lake a couple days ago and Western Toad tadpoles are just beginning to metamorphose into toadlets.  The next two weekends (Sept 19-21, 26-28) would be a great time to have some meadow rover presence along the trail around Tipsoo.  The Toad numbers are not huge this year but there are at least several hundred in addition to hundreds of Cascade froglets.  The newly emerged Cascade frogs have reached the trail and by next week I suspect the toadlets will be crossing the trail.  Both species are concentrated around the inlet creek on the south side of the lake.  I have included a couple of pictures from my recent visit.  The idea would be to help prevent trampling of the toads and frogs as they cross the trail.  Here again is the list of folks who helped Laura and may be interested in helping out.  Please feel free to email or call if you would like additional information.  I will probably send another email out on Monday or Tuesday.  I know it is short notice but this weekend could also be a good time for meadow rover presence but next week will be best.  In the photos note size of toadlets (< 1/2 inch) and cascade froglet ( ~ 3/4 of an inch).





 
 
So Meadow Rovers, how about a fun day saving froglets and toadlets  at Lake Tipsoo.  A radio will be made available at the White River WIC.  Send an e-mail through mora_meadow_rovers@nps.gov.
 
Thanks so much for helping save the plants and animals of Mt. Rainier National Park.
 
Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers



Saturday, September 13, 2014

MVP Walt Reid

Photo courtesy of Walt Reid
Walt Reid, this month's MVP, has been a part of Mt. Rainier’s Volunteers-In-Parks program with his major contributions occurring after the Great Nisqually River Flood of 2006. As a retiree with a background in Forestry and time on his hands, Walt answered the Park’s call for volunteers to help repair and restore the damaged areas near the Nisqually River. He used the Park often and like many volunteers, considered it "give-back" time.

His various contributions include trail work, collecting wildflower seeds, transplanting seeds in the nursery, planting new vegetation around the new Paradise parking area, and digging out Sunrise from under the snow in the Spring. Not only that, he helps rope off restricted areas around Paradise that are still covered in snow, and he helps get the Longmire Campground ready for its volunteer guests in the Spring. He also helps with the Mount Rainier Volunteer Adopt-a-Highway program picking up litter.

As a native of Tacoma, Walt remembers taking trips to Mt. Rainier where he came to consider it "my mountain”. He graduated from the University of Washington and Yale University with degrees in Forestry and spent 41 years working for a local forestry company. After his retirement, his time was freed up to enjoy more hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing at Mt. Rainier. He has a cabin in the Ashford area which gives him easy access to the Park. When not at the cabin, he spends the rest of his time at a farm in Palouse.

When not volunteering at the Park, Walt belongs to an organization of US Masters Swimmers, a program for adults that provides opportunities for fitness and competition throughout the world. For the last 35 years he has been the keeper of the competitive swimming records in the USA and for the last 22 years he has served as the Masters Recorder keeping the competitive swimming records for the World Swimming Organization (FINA). This has given him the opportunity to travel to the Masters World Swimming Championships all over the world!

He was asked what in particular he likes about his Park volunteer work. His reply, “It gives me the opportunity to give back some measure of what the Park has given to me. I get satisfaction in knowing that I am making a difference and that someone appreciates what I have done. I also like the opportunity to spend time with some very interesting people.”

Walt also has a special message for Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager and Petrina "Crow" Vecchio. “I especially want to thank (them) for doing all the planning and organizing of the volunteers. They make it easy for us to know what is available, how to sign up and always give a big ‘thanks’ when the job is done."

~Jean Millan

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Volunteer Newsletter, September 2014

National Public Lands Day! Saturday September 27

Mount Rainier National Park's biggest volunteer day of the year is coming up in a few weeks! This year's event will kick off at Longmire at 9:00 a.m., with registration as early as 8:00 a.m. by the National Parks Conservation Association in front of the Transportation Exhibit next to the National Park Inn. We'll have several trail projects available at Paradise on the Skyline Trail, led by park crew leaders and the Washington Trails Association. A contingent of volunteers will take down platform tents and prepare the Longmire Campground for winter. Additional projects are still being lined up. If enough plants are available, we'll also do revegetation at the old Sunrise Campground. Watch the Volunteer Blog at http://rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com for updates!

Free camping is available for NPLD participants on either Friday and/or Saturday nights. Please RSVP to Nancy_Mortensen (at) partner.nps.gov with details of your request, including your name, contact information, nights requested, number of people, and number of tents (or size of RV -- no hookups are available and campsites are small).

Park entrance fees will be waived for everyone on September 27. Volunteers will receive a fee-free coupon to use at a later date.

Share your photos and stories!
As the busy part of our year winds down, we're interested in hearing about your experiences as a volunteer. Send us your anecdotes and photos, and we'll publish them on our volunteer blog and Facebook page. Watch for a special series of blog entries later this month!

Trail maintenance and Meadow Roving continues throughout the month
If you're still looking for ways to volunteer this year, consider joining the Washington Trails Association for trail maintenance projects at Paradise through the end of the month. Visit WTA's website at http://www.wta.org and click on the "volunteer" tab for a full list of projects. Look for the ones marked "Mount Rainier" for details and to sign up.

Meadow Rovers continue to be invaluable as long as there are meadows to stomp! If you're signed up as a Meadow Rover, we welcome your continued presence at Paradise and Sunrise through the month of September and into October or beyond, as long as weather permits!

Boy Scouts and Community Crews and REI, oh my!
August is always the busiest month of our volunteer program, so let me take this opportunity to thank the many individuals and groups who helped keep the park humming! This includes the Mount Rainier National Park Associates, Boy Scouts of America, ArrowCorps, Recreational Equipment Inc., Starbucks and Microsoft employees, Washington Trails Association, Washington's National Park Fund, Washington Conservation Corps, and Student Conservation Association, to name a few, and my apologies if I missed anyone!

Many of our full-time summer volunteers and interns wrapped up their seasons in the past month as well, and to them we say an additional thank you for their extended service. In addition to "unaffiliated" volunteers, we worked with interns this year through the Student Conservation Association, Geologic Society of America, Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program, Evergreen State College, and University of Washington.

Visit us at the Washington State Fair
If you "Do the Puyallup" this year, stop by the Northwest Outdoors building and say hi to the rangers and volunteers representing Mount Rainier National Park! You can also get a preview of our winter season by taking a "strawshoe" walk with volunteers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September is still trail maintenance month for WTA

Autumn is definitely setting in in the mountains, with cool nights and lots of amber grasses in the landscape. Still, the days are sunny and beautiful with blue skies, and the Washington Trails Association is still busy maintaining trails at Mount Rainier National Park! If you're looking for a late-season volunteer project, check out the full list of WTA projects at http://www.wta.org/volunteer/trail-work-parties, and look for the ones labeled Mount Rainier. This month's work is scheduled for the gorgeous Skyline Trail at Paradise.

A reminder, too: Saturday September 27 will be National Public Lands Day, so mark that on your calendar and plan to come out and help! We'll be doing multiple trail projects in the Paradise area on that date.