Friday, July 3, 2015

Volunteer Newsletter: July 2015


June Highlights


The start of our volunteer season was a strong one in June, with many different events culminating in hours of hard work put in around the mountain.  Here are some highlights from the past month:

Tribal Use Dedication – June 10th
At the junction of the Nisqually River and the Longmire Stewardship Campground lies a recently dedicated piece of land.  This land was dedicated as a Tribal Use Area, as members of the Nisqually Tribe participated in the dedication, showcasing traditional dance and grilling salmon over a fire.

Geocacher’s CITO Event – June 13th
The 8th Annual CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) event was a very productive one, as geocachers and others worked hard in and around the Longmire Stewardship Campground.  They were able to help prepare the campground for the fast approaching summer season by cleaning the campsites, removing debris, erecting platform tents, filling potholes, and giving a much needed coat of paint to an adjacent firebox.  Thanks to their dedication year after year, we are able to provide a spectacular campground for all of our volunteers to enjoy.

Girl Scouts of Tacoma, Washington – June 25th to June 28th
Seven members of Girl Scout Troop 40216 of Tacoma, Washington stayed with us in the Longmire Stewardship Campground and had a blast.  When they arrived, they had a lesson with volunteer coordinator Crow on different forms of photography and lessons on various organisms from a “Penny’s Perspective.”  The second day they spent with members of our Education team and learned all about habitats around Mount Rainier and spent much of their additional time hiking to Carter Falls, cooling off in the Nisqually River, and constructing a small rock dam in the ultimate show of teamwork (they later destroyed it, as it was not to be a permanent structure).  On their final day, they tied all this new knowledge together to participate in our MeadoWatch program.  They walked along portions of trail in the Paradise area, taking pictures of flowers they saw, making note of their exact location, and entered it into an Internet database once they returned home.  The intrepid group of girls pressed on bravely through the sweltering sun in the name of science, and with the promise from their leaders of ice cream at the end.  Work with a Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troop in your hometown and are looking for service projects?  We can help! 

Citizen Science Trainings – Throughout the Month of June
Many citizen science projects kicked off this month with higher numbers of volunteers than ever before.  The MeadoWatch program is designed to allow volunteers of all kinds to help monitor and track the impacts of global climate change at Mount Rainier.  Participants will be collecting information throughout the summer and over many years in the form of noting the stage of development of different species of flowers along a set trail.  Scientists will then study this data and compare it from year to year.  The Cascades Butterfly Project is taking the same approach as the MeadoWatch crew in that they are enlisting the help of dozens of volunteers to help track and identify sensitive indicator species, such as butterflies, in five different locations throughout the park.  They too will be continuing on with this project over many years and tracking the effects of global climate change.  Love science and want to participate in these or similar studies?  There are still spots available!

Meadow Rovers – Throughout the Month of June
This year is on track to be one of the most popular years for visitors in Mount Rainier’s history.  With thousands upon thousands of visitors rambling through the trails, many questions may go unanswered, many flowers may be picked from our pristine subalpine fields, many dogs may chase down those loveable marmots, and many meadows may become stomped.  This is where the Meadow Rover crew comes into play.  Showing in record numbers this year, the Meadow Rovers have one goal: to improve protection of the meadows at Paradise and Sunrise through visitor education.  This devoted group of volunteers spends their time on patrol around the meadows of Paradise and Sunrise, sharing stories with visitors on a wide range of topics, educating guests on a variety of ecological concepts and programming within the park, and assisting those in need while on the trails.  We’d love to have you out roving the meadows at either Paradise or Sunrise!

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Looking Ahead to July

July is looking to be a hot month, but that won’t stop our volunteer crews!  Here are some events coming up in the month of July (and beyond).

Eatonville 4th of July Parade – July 4th
This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wonderland trail, the 90+ mile loop trail that encircles the mountain.  Come cheer us on, or if you’d like, join us walking the parade route!  For more information, contact Jim Ross at Jim_Ross@nps.gov, or just show up at 11:30 on Penn Avenue in Eatonville and look for the ranger vehicle. Wear your trail maintenance helmets and show your support for the Wonderland Trail!

SCA Community Crew #1 – June 6th
On June 6th, we welcome our first of three youth crews from the Seattle area as part of the Student Conservation Association’s Community Crew program.  These volunteers will spend two weeks working in the backcountry alongside trail crews, improving many miles of trails.  If you hike past them, make sure to express your support for them and all of their hard work! The second crew will then be arriving on July 27th and staying through August 10th.

Mount Rainier National Parks Associates “Deveg” – June 11th
The next MRNPA volunteer work party will be on Saturday, June 11th.  The primary focus of this work party will be exotic plant removal, or “deveg,” at the site of the new Carbon River Ranger Station, just west of the Carbon River Entrance.  They are meeting between 8:30am and 9:00am in front of the ranger station and no prior experience is needed; all training necessary will be provided on site.  If interested, please contact MRNPA at volunteer@mrnpa.org with information of how many volunteers you are expecting to accompany you.

Washington Trails Association Trail Work – Every Weekend of the Summer
The WTA is a longstanding partner of Mount Rainier National Park, and every weekend they are having volunteer work parties that are designed to improve sections of trail that are commonly traveled.  For information on where their next work project is in the park and how YOU can join them, visit www.wta.org.

Volunteer Picnics – August 14th and 15th
Remember that our annual Volunteer Picnics (Longmire on the 14th and Sunrise on the 15th) will be held in August.  Food will be provided at both events, and more information will be posted on the volunteer blog (rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com) soon!

Wow, These Trails Look Beautiful!


There are many miles of trails surrounding the namesake volcano in the center of Mount Rainier National Park, and they constantly need some love.  BUT!  Don’t you fret, because the Washington Trails Association is out there every weekend this summer leading groups of volunteers on projects that keep those trails as stunning as can be!  There is always room on our trails for YOU to come out and help!

The Washington Trails Association is the largest nonprofit, state based organization in the United States, and is doing work right in our backyard.  With a core mission looking to preserve, enhance, and promote hiking opportunities in Washington State, the organization has a strong focus towards volunteerism.  Beginning in 1966 with a single magazine, WTA is now a large community of hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts looking to maintain those beautiful trails and pathways to awe inspiring wilderness for generations to come. 

                Acting not only as a voice for hikers, the Washington Trails Association also heavily relies on volunteers to continue the legacy that the founders started nearly 50 years ago.  In 2010, volunteers donated over 100,000 hours of their own time working on the trails, making this the largest program of its kind in the nation. 

                Throughout the summer here at Mount Rainier National Park, you may run into volunteer trail crews, sporting their forest green WTA hardhats, working hard to keep the trails that you are hiking on in immaculate condition, but there is always more to be done.  The WTA has partnered with Mount Rainier in an effort to maintain and improve sections of our almost 300 miles of trail, and they do this by having volunteer weekends every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the summer.  Those volunteering are eligible to receive free camping in the park for the duration of their service, if requested at least one week prior to volunteering.

You can help for one, two, or all three days, or for every weekend this summer, and any work done is appreciated by not only the trail crew, but the nearly 2,000,000 visitors Mount Rainier receives every year.  For more information on the Washington Trails Association or how to get involved, check out their website at www.wta.org/volunteer .

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Face in the Volunteer Office


Hello!  My name is Ian Harvey and I am a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the National Park Service for this upcoming year, and you’ll hopefully be seeing a lot of me!

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I have always had a strong interest in the outdoors.  This ranges from sitting under my great-grandmother’s blue spruce, listening to the birds singing above in her backyard when I was only a few years old, to pursuing a degree in Conservation Ecology from California University of Pennsylvania.  While a student at CalU, I was involved in many volunteer projects and eventually became the President of their branch of Habitat for Humanity.

Upon graduation, I began teaching outdoor education all over the north east, including Yellow Springs, OH, Freedom, NH, Silver Bay, NY, Charlton, MA, Andover, CT, and many other locations.  I have found that by working with thousands of students over the past few years that there is a strong interest in the outdoors in many people, and an even stronger urge to want to do something to help.  That is where I am today.

As the SCA’s Centennial Volunteer Ambassador, I will be working closely with the volunteers, communities, and surrounding areas of Mt. Rainier National Park to encourage people of all backgrounds, ages, and experiences to get out and enjoy the parks through hands-on service.  I believe that it is through these types of projects that people are able to form those much more personal connections to the lands around them and pass those feelings on to future generations!

I would love to hear from you, the volunteers, about your personal connections to the park, why you volunteer, and even your favorite memories at Mt. Rainier.  I can be reached via e-mail at ian_harvey@partner.nps.gov and can’t wait to hear from you and work with you out in the field soon!

N2P Road Update, July 2-9

Click to enlarge to readable size


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Have Experience with Surveying or GIS?

The Longmire Stewardship Campground was a favorite of park visitors from the mid-1920s until the 1980s.  Now, it is “home-base” for hundreds of volunteers and park partners each year, exclusively.  Many projects recently have involved work in and around the campground area, and now we are seeking an outstanding volunteer with a very special set of skills.  We are looking to upgrade our maps of the campground from the current hand drawn version to a much more accurate and aesthetically pleasing version.   
Brief Job Description:  Survey the features of the Longmire Stewardship Campground and create a map to be used by the general public and Park Service Employees.
Duties:
  • Plot key points around the campground, including campsites, fire pits, electrical hook-ups, etc.
  • Include adjoining trails and roads
  • Map the perimeter of the campground
  • Create a user-friendly map to be used by volunteers, partners, coordinators, and the National
Park Service
Anticipated Results:  The end product will be a more practical and useable map of the Stewardship Campground.
Qualifications:
  • Experience with mapping and surveying programs and processes
  • Ability to work independently or in a small group
  • Physical ability to hike the entire campground area
Benefits:
  • Free park entry for the entire duration of the project
  • Availability of Longmire Campground for the length of the surveying, including night prior to beginning and day following completion
For more information, please contact Kevin Bacher at 360-569-6567 or via email at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's Have A Parade!



It's almost time for the Eatonville 4th of July Parade. Be a part of the park's participation in this special event.

This year we will be celebrating 100 year of the Wonderland Trail.

We need  a set of "banner babes and/or dudes", flag wavers, folks smiling, waving, and giving high fives. As usually you can wear your uniform. But you can also dress to hike the Wonderland Trail. Or better yet, dress to work on the trail.  I'll have trail crew tools for you to carry!

Park staff, volunteers, scouts and their family members are welcome to join.
 
If you wish to take part, we gather at 11:30 AM, usually on Pennsylvania Ave., near Lynch St., one block west of the football stadium at Eatonville High School.  The exact spot is different each year and is not known until we arrive.  Just look around for some ranger hats.  For more information contact Jim_Ross (at) nps.gov
                                                                               
Please join us!

Jim

Meadow Rover Notes



First, I would like to thank all of you who attended the training sessions on June 13th and 14th.  I was overwhelmed by the response and the eagerness of both the new and returning rovers.  We gave Crow 57 new rover agreements and 65 returning!  A few of you did not turn in the volunteer agreement and will need to do so if you have not signed a new agreement since last year.

To date, I have held orientation for 15 new rovers at Paradise with 3 more scheduled for this weekend.  Lynn has also had several new rovers at Sunrise and they have been open less than a week!
For those of you who have done your orientation and completed your first solo rove, please remind me you have earned your “Meadow Rover” patch!  If I have forgotten to give it to you…feel free to tell me.  I am another year older after-all.
The weather is definitely hot – even at Paradise and Sunrise.  Please bring extra water, sunscreen, and bug repellant.  Your health and safety is paramount.

PARADISE PARKING

Crazy as usual!  Your best bet is to try the lower lot or picnic area.  If you wish to ride up with Interp crew, they leave at 8:45 and 11:30 from the Field Office.  The first shift generally has room for 3-4, the second 2-3.  I can take 2-3 with me around 9.  Please let me know ahead of time so I will wait for you.  Return times are around 5 and after 7pm.

TRAILS –
The Paradise trail crew has been working to rope troublesome areas and prevent damage.  They are constantly checking with me to hear of any reports from Rovers regarding trail conditions or hot spots.  Feel free to leave these on my desk or on the white board.  Sunrise Rovers can also leave reports with Lynn.

It has been a wonderful start to the summer.  So far visitor contacts have been very positive and the general population quite friendly.  So come on out and have some fun.  Thanks for being so positive about the job you do.

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers
360-569-2035

Monday, June 29, 2015

N2P Construction On Hold For 4th

Construction on the Nisqually to Paradise Road will cease over the upcoming holiday weekend, July 3 - 5.  While visitors can normally expect to experience delays on weekdays during daylight hours there will be no work this Friday, July 3.

It is still important to remember to drive safely when traveling along the park’s roads.  The roads are narrow and winding.  Roads throughout the park can be rough and uneven.

Construction along the road from Nisqually Entrance to Paradise began in May and is expected to continue through the end of July.  Work will resume again in early October. Delays of up to 15 minutes at each stop and no more than 30 minutes total through the project can be expected.

The road construction project is needed to address deteriorating road conditions that are due to many factors including abundant precipitation, structural and design deficiencies, large traffic volumes, and normal wear.  These improvements will preserve the road’s integrity as a popular scenic drive, and provide continued safe access for years to come.

Additional information on this important project is available on Mount Rainier National Park’s website: http://www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/nisqually-paradise-road.htm. Also, Follow MountRainierNPS https://twitter.com/MountRainierNPS on Twitter for updates on road construction status. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Park-wide Fire Ban In Effect

New this afternoon:

"There is a parkwide fire ban in effect due to ongoing drought conditions and a red flag warning for the Mount Rainier area. Cooking by propane and white gas stoves and charcoal is permitted."

This ban affects all campgrounds in the park, including the Longmire Volunteer Campground.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's going to be hot... be careful out there

Mount Rainier's recreational forecast is predicting hot temperatures this weekend, peaking on Saturday with a high of 84 degrees at Paradise. While this is nowhere near the mid-nineties predicted for the lowlands, it's still a very intense temperature, especially when you factor in ultraviolet exposure at 5400 feet elevation (or higher at Sunrise). Please be careful!

From the National Weather Service's Special Weather Statement for the weekend:

...HOT WEATHER IS EXPECTED FRIDAY THROUGH THE WEEKEND AS WELL AS
RISING FIRE DANGER...
 
DURING HOT WEATHER IT IS IMPORTANT TO STAY HYDRATED BY DRINKING
PLENTY OF WATER. IF YOU ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE HEAT...STAY
INSIDE IN AIR CONDITIONED AREAS. AVOID LEAVING CHILDREN AND PETS
UNATTENDED IN CARS...AS TEMPERATURES INSIDE PARKED CARS CAN RISE
VERY QUICKLY TO DEADLY LEVELS. REMEMBER TO APPLY SUNSCREEN IF YOU
ARE OUTDOORS. 
 
There are a lot of activities scheduled in the park this weekend. The Washington Trails Association will be working on trails... Meadow Rovers will be out in force... Citizen Scientists are in bloom... and our intrepid volunteer program assistant, Crow, is still looking for people to help with Adopt-a-Highway litter patrol on Sunday morning.

Please make safety your number one concern. Watch your hydration and sun exposure, and take shelter if it becomes too much. Remember: the first rule of having fun is to STAY SAFE!