Monday, December 2, 2013
Mount Rainier National Park seeks an energetic volunteer to help manage the snow play hill. Duties include directing visitors, enforcing regulations (e.g. no runner sleds), responding to injuries, and in general, maintaining a positive and orderly experience for park visitors. Note that the sledding hill can get very busy on sunny holiday weekends, and weather can turn cold and wet at a moment's notice.
Snow play rangers will work weekends from December 21 through the end of March. Overnight housing may be available during the weekend, but this is not a full-time position.
For more information, please contact Mary King, Mary_E_King@nps.gov, or 360-569-6681. Submit your application at Volunteer.gov.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
As the snow accumulates at Paradise, I have begun receiving e-mails from Meadow Rovers asking about options for winter volunteering. While such opportunities are more limited than they are in the summer months, they are not non-existent, and plans have been developing behind the scenes for winter operations training and supervision. Here’s a quick summary of what’s on the agenda:
|Nordic Patrol training, December 2010|
photo by Phil Hertzog
There are three main options for winter volunteering, depending on your skills, interests, and experience. Nordic Patrol, AKA Ski Patrol, is a partnership between Mount Rainier National Park and the Washington Ski Touring Club (WSTC). Its members patrol the routes above Paradise on skis, coordinated by the park’s division of Visitor and Resource Protection. They provide both preventative and responsive search and rescue, and monitor the ski routes for potential danger. Patrol members should be physically fit and comfortable on skis. To participate, contact WSTC through their website at http://www.wstc.org.
Winter Interpreters, by contrast, work primarily out of the Visitor Center. They assist visitor center staff at the information desk on a regular basis, filling vital slots in our schedule. They are trained to provide informal interpretation and answer questions, and also help with snowshoe walks, usually by serving as a "sweeper" at the back of the line to keep the group together and assist anyone who falls behind. These positions are limited to a few people with previous experience, and all such slots are filled for this year. If you’re interested in participating in the future, stop by the Visitor Center and chat with our staff to let us know!
|John McCarthy, Snow Rover|
Photo by Ed Hunds
It is important to stress that Nordic Patrol, Winter Interpreters, Snow Rovers, and Meadow Rovers are each different volunteer positions, and each requires a separate volunteer agreement. If you are already signed up as a Meadow Rover, for example, you are not automatically also a Snow Rover. The duties and priorities are different, and if you have registered as a Meadow Rover or were a Snow Rover last year but haven’t yet signed paperwork as a Snow Rover this year, you are not authorized to do the work. If you’re interested in participating, contact us and make arrangements to sign up.
How to Be a Snow Rover
If you want to serve with Nordic Patrol, you’ll work directly with the Washington Ski Touring Club. If you’re a Winter Interpreter, then you’ve already been contacted and scheduled by our interpretive staff. If you’re interested in becoming a Snow Rover, then you’ll be working with me. Here is a quick summary of how that works:
- Sign up. As mentioned above, if you have not signed a volunteer agreement specifically for Snow Roving this year, you must do so before venturing out on the snow. Snow Roving is different than Meadow Roving.
- Attend training. If possible, join us on Saturday, December 14 for our winter volunteer orientation. See below for details.
- Choose when to come and where to go. Our greatest need is on weekends at Paradise, especially when the weather is good, followed by Fridays. Weekday roving is less important, but welcomed in the Longmire area.
- Let us know you’re coming. Snow Rovers MUST check in ahead of time so that we can make sure enough radios and other resources are available for you. Let us know if you plan to ride our employee shuttle, which is an option if space is available and you plan on being here all day. The shuttle leaves Longmire at 9:00 am on weekends and holidays, weather permitting, and departs Paradise at 4:45 pm. Also let us know if you’d like to spend the night in the volunteer apartment at Park Headquarters, which has two bedrooms and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Since multiple people will be supervising the program over the course of the winter, the best way to RSVP is by writing to the Meadow Rover mailbox at MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov. Please don’t wait until the day before to RSVP, and please give us at least a two-day lead when requesting the apartment.
- Call ahead to check conditions. Current road and weather information is available by calling 360-569-2211 and listening to the recorded message. This includes an estimate on when (or if) the road to Paradise will open, and whether chains or 4WD will be required. Note that state law requires you to carry tire chains in your vehicle during the winter, even if current road conditions do not require putting them on.
- Check in when you get here. Snow Rovers must check in in person when they arrive, either at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (open weekends and holidays) or at the Longmire Information Center (open seven days a week). Our rangers will give you current information on weather, avalanche, and trail conditions, and may ask you to help with specific tasks such as resetting the poles marking trails, or checking on trail conditions in a certain area.
- Check out a radio. Safety is your highest priority – for both you and the visitors we serve! No one should be out on the trail without a radio and knowledge of how to use it, especially in the winter (in addition to the rest of the 10 Essentials).
- Be safe!
- Check back in when you return. Check your radio back in, report anything relevant, and log your hours and visitor contacts in the volunteer notebook. If the notebook is not available, send your hours via e-mail to MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov when you get home.
Winter Operations Training
If possible, plan to join us on Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 9:00-4:00 for Winter Operations Training. We’ll meet at the Community Building at Longmire and, weather permitting, move up to Paradise in the afternoon. Details of the agenda are still being worked out, but topics will include safety, logistics, and emergency response. This training is highly recommended if you plan to participate as either a Snow Rover or Winter Interpreter, and is also an excellent opportunity to update your paperwork if necessary.
5-Minute Presentations Are Needed! We will begin the Winter Operations Training with a series of brief presentation on winter safety topics, such as the 10 Essentials, preventing falls, snow shoveling, hypothermia, dehydration, frostbite, winter driving, cold and flu prevention, etc. If you would like to put together a 5-minute presentation on one of these topics, or something similar, please let us know when you RSVP, and we’ll put you into the schedule!
Please RSVP to MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov so that we’re sure to have plenty of chairs and snacks. Use the same e-mail address if you have questions. See you there, and we look forward to working with you this winter!
Monday, November 25, 2013
Here, at last, is this year's Annual Activity and Expense Report for the volunteer program. As always, I will follow this soon with an analysis of where changes occurred between last year and this year, and why. From the outset, though, two things jump out: first, our total number of volunteer hours is down dramatically (from 74,615 last year to 62,736 this year); and second, our total number of volunteers remained almost steady (1,804 last year, 1,784 this year). A quick look at the numbers reveals that most of the changes are reflective of fewer full-time volunteer and intern positions. We had fewer full-time volunteers in the Paradise Visitor Center and Climber Information Center; fewer Emergency Roadside Assistance ("Raven") volunteers; fewer Historic Architecture positions; and so forth. Even if just a few positions are lost in each division, they carry with them thousands of hours of volunteer time. We lost a few thousand hours of volunteer time at the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center alone.
Most of these positions seem to have been lost for the same reasons that our numbers of paid staff have declined: volunteers are inexpensive but not free, incurring either housing, per diem, and vehicle costs, or commitments to the Student Conservation Association and other partners, and with reduced budgets, we've had reduced capacity. It is also likely that under Sequestration whole programs have shrunk, volunteers and all.
The silver lining is that, clearly, individual interest in volunteering has NOT declined. While we've had fewer full-time volunteers parkwide, our number of itinerant volunteers has remained roughly the same, in spite of the shrinkage of some programs. As revegetation opportunities have declined, citizen science opportunities have increased, for example, and our total number of volunteers this year is the second-highest ever, just slightly behind last year's number.
I will work on bringing these statistics and conclusions into sharper focus over the next few weeks, and will report further when I have more information. For now, here are the raw data!
This incident summary from last week presents another excellent opportunity to recognize and thank the important contribution of volunteers in our Search and Rescue efforts. Over the past year (Fiscal Year 2013), Mountain Rescue units contributed more than a thousand hours of volunteer time at Mount Rainier. The previous year -- a year with an exceptionally high number of such events -- the number was almost twice that. I've said this many times, but it applies even more vitally when lives are at risk: there is no way we could serve our visitors or the natural and cultural resources we protect as well as we do, without the help of volunteers. Thank you, Mountain Rescue!
November 21-22, 2013
The rescue of an injured skier in the Panoramic Point area above Paradise overnight was made more complex when word came to rangers that a snowboarder was reported lost in the same area. At 3 pm, word was received that a 36 year old skier from Packwood, WA, had fallen down a 200 ft. icefield and had severely broken his knee. By the time rangers were able to reach and assess the subject, waning daylight precluded the safe use of a helicopter as a means of extricating the 36 year old skier. As Ranger staff began setting up a technical raising of the skier, it became apparent that to conduct this operation safely, additional outside resources would be needed. Six members of Tacoma Mountain Rescue, and six members of Olympic Mountain Rescue, all trained volunteers, responded from various areas around Puget Sound, to help conduct the rescue. In the meantime, a tent and sleeping bags were sent up to the site to protect the skier from the elements. Although skies were clear and calm overnight, temperatures were in the 20’s throughout the ordeal. The laborious task of carefully raising the subject, and sledding him down to Paradise under darkness took most of the night.
In the meantime, at approx. 9 pm while the rescue was underway, the park received a report that a 36 year old solo snowboarder from Edmonds, WA was lost. He had texted his girlfriend on his cellphone to report that he was snowboarding in the Pebble Creek area above Paradise, was trying to make his way back to the parking lot, but because of darkness did not know his way back. This area is on a ridge with steep icefields and gullies along the way. The stretch of freezing weather that had occurred created a hard, slippery ice crust throughout the area, and a slip or fall could be deadly. Attempts to reach snowboarder by phone after the initial text message were unsuccessful. The Incident Commander of the skier rescue, Park Ranger Kevin Ross, re-directed several of the rescue volunteers to begin a hasty search in the area of Pebble Creek. At approx. 1220 am, searchers heard a voice responding to their calling out of the subject’s name. The snowboarder was located in cold, but good condition near Pebble Creek. He was safely walked out to Paradise, and did not suffer any injuries. All parties were safely taken off the mountain between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning. The skier was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Puyallup, WA.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Secretary Jewell Launches Ambitious Initiative to Expand Opportunities for Youth on Nation’s Public Lands
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined with local business, health, education, non-profit and conservation leaders in San Francisco to launch a national campaign to expand opportunities for youth on public lands. Today’s kick-off comes on the heels of Secretary Jewell’s major speech last week, in which she outlined conservation priorities for Interior, including an emphasis on fostering the next generation of environmental stewards, scientists, and natural resource managers.
“There is a growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors – and it’s a gap that Interior has the power to help bridge,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, Interior will expand its efforts to pass on our nation’s rich conservation legacy and to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.”
In the morning, Jewell hosted a roundtable discussion with local leaders in San Francisco to outline her vision and to hear what efforts are underway in the area to boost youth engagement and employment. Following the roundtable, Jewell participated in a service project with local youth conservation corps members at Crissy Field in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
“San Francisco is really a model for what can be accomplished when it comes to leveraging public-private partnerships to connect young people to the great outdoors – whether it’s in the classroom, through volunteer work, or with a job working on public lands,” Jewell added. “Through this initiative, we hope to expand that success around the country, so that young people and veterans can not only accomplish meaningful work and gain important professional skills, but they can also build a lifelong connection to the outdoors.”
The goals of Interior’s youth initiative for the next four years include:
- Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over the next four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.
- Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation’s K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature’s classroom, we are developing and strengthening new online education resources, to reach more students.
- Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the numbers we have now. We know that many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, we will place a renewed emphasis on volunteer coordination and management. [Emphasis added]
- Work: To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work & training opportunities to young people within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, we aim to raise an additional $20 million to support the youth work and training opportunities.
Youth engagement has been a signature part of President Obama’s conservation agenda, and today’s initiative will build upon the ongoing partnership with USDA and other members of the federal family through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC, launched as part of the America’s Great Outdoors program, is a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s natural and cultural resources. The 21CSC engages young Americans aged 15-25, and veterans up to age 35.
An initial group of 91 organizations has been recognized for their commitment to the principles that the 21CSC embodies. All partner organizations have agreed to offer job and training opportunities to young people and veterans in America’s great outdoors.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Sunday November 2nd, is the official end of Meadow Roving for
2013. It is a good day to end as the
meadows are covered in snow. Winter has
definitely set foot on the mountain.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Each and every one of you has made a difference in Mount Rainier National Park and I for one could not ask for better people with whom to work. However, the time has come to announce the Meadow Rover of the Year Awards. These awards are given not only for the number of hours spent volunteering in our meadows, but also for the manner in which the individual approaches their duties. The following individuals have been standouts this summer among the many nominations:
Jodie stepped up to handle the coordination of the Meadow Rovers at Sunrise. With the changes in the program this year, Jodie handled all the new regulations with ease. She implemented an excellent reservation system for the radios and constantly monitored her territory to place people where they were needed. On top of this, she roved in her free-time and also assisted at the information desk. As overall coordinator, I could not have survived without her work on the east side.
David is a familiar face in the Sunrise area. He has accrued a whopping 303¼ hours of roving time between July 1st and September 30th. During this time, he has made 5623 contacts. But more than hours, he was the volunteer who assisted Lynn as she stepped in for Jodie. When she nominated him, Lynn reiterated how instrumental David was in helping her keep the program running smoothly.
As a brand new Mt. Rainier Volunteer, Gwen managed to accumulate over 100 hours of meadow roving between July and September. Her enthusiasm never waned even on the longest, craziest days in late August. Visitors were highly entertained by her humorous messages among them the poor flower screaming "don’t step on me!" But amongst the laughter, they rallied around to pass on the message of protecting the meadow.
Each of these individuals will choose between lunch with the park administrator of their choice or a hike with one of the park scientists.
We will have two more weekends of roving at Paradise -- 10/26-27 and Nov 2/3. Snow continues to linger hiding parts of the trails, but not deep enough to protect the vegetation. Some visitors have arrived with sleds hoping to catch the slopes. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous... warm and sunny with crisp blue skies. Come up and have some fun.
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers
Thursday, October 24, 2013
In the flurry of busy-ness this past week as we've reopened after the Government Shutdown, I almost missed this wonderful editorial in the local Dispatch newspaper in Eatonville, Washington. Good work setting an awesome example, National Public Lands Day volunteers!
"It’s ironic that just three days before partisan politics pushed the federal government into a shutdown that forced the closure of Mount Rainier National Park and associated economic impacts affecting the lives of furloughed workers and businesses with fewer potential customers, the place was imbued with a selflessness that our leaders in Washington, D.C. could learn from."
Friday, October 18, 2013
While we were closed, the Mountain has changed its face. The Paradise meadows are white, and the trails are
covered too. The foliage has turned
orange, yellow and red. Check the webcams to see the beauty- http://www.nps.gov/mora/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm#CP_JUMP_636381.
Better yet, we could still use some help on the weekends thru November 3rd. With the sun shining, I expect many visitors
to reclaim their park. The snow is not
deep enough to protect the vegetation so we will need rovers to help people
find and stay on the trails and return sleds to their cars. I am not working today-Friday, but will be at
Paradise Saturday and Sunday. Even if
you are in the ½ mile radius, you will be helping visitors and the resources
alike. I will try to have as many radios
as possible charged and ready for your use. For our Sunrise friends, the road and trails to Sunrise are closed for the winter, so come visit us at Paradise.
Come breathe the fresh air and enjoy the changes October has given.
Once again thanks so much for all your help and especially thank you for the support and encouragement given during the shutdown.
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers