...and one of those Boy Scouts, apparently, was Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard! Read all about it on The News Tribune's website:
I'll try to track down a photo of the sign to share with you all.
The Boy Scouts continue to be significant volunteer partners, 89 years later. Last summer, 66 Scouts contributed 433 hours of volunteer service at Mount Rainier.
Monday, March 10, 2014
...and one of those Boy Scouts, apparently, was Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard! Read all about it on The News Tribune's website:
Friday, March 7, 2014
No, we aren't talking about big black birds filling the sky. We're talking about the return of Mount Rainier National Park's Roadside Assistance Volunteers (RAVEN for short) after the program's absence in 2013 due to lack of funding. A $10,000 grant from Washington's National Park Fund will permit us to hire two volunteers and obtain supplies, training, and vehicles.
The RAVEN program operates from June through August, assisting visitors who have locked themselves out of their vehicles or who are having car trouble. RAVEN volunteers also provide traffic control during emergency operations and during times of heavy traffic congestion. Typically, RAVEN volunteers work 6-7 days per week, primarily at Longmire, Paradise and Cougar Rock Campground. We hope to hire our RAVEN volunteers this coming week!
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
As part of the Volunteer Program's contract with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, we have agreed to coordinate a litter patrol between mileposts 2 and 4 on State Route 706 during the month of April in recognition of Earth Day. The area to be policed includes the Park's Tahoma Woods frontage. An enormous amount of litter has accumulated over the winter, and we need your help to tidy up! If you are capable of walking at least one mile and are willing to devote approximately three hours to this public service project rain or shine, we have ten spots available. Sign up soon! The date is Saturday, April 26, hours 10-1. Gloves, "long-armed grabbers" and a short training session will be provided. To sign up, contact Volunteer Coordinator Crow Vecchio at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than April 20.
The 2014 Youth Heritage Project is a partnership between the National
Park Service, the Wing Luke Museum (a NPS Affiliated Area), the
Washington Trust, and the Washington State Department of Archaeology and
Historic Preservation. This summer, as part of the Asian American and Pacific
Islander Heritage Initiative, a youth summit will be held in Seattle.
This four day program runs from July 9 through July 12, and will allow forty students to experience and learn
about heritage preservation and stewardship first hand.
The project works to achieve four primary objectives: 1) to connect youth and teachers to historic places and landscapes; 2) to engage students in historic preservation and conservation activities; 3) to expand tools to support teachers’ educational efforts around the built and natural environment; 4) to excite the next generation of advocates and stewards of our natural and historic resources.
The location and study topics for YHP change annually: in 2014, YHP will take place primarily in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District (C-ID), with excursions to nearby Port Gamble and Bainbridge Island to visit additional sites related to the history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the Pacific Northwest. The program will address several historic topics including immigration, working and making a life in a new country, maintaining cultural roots, incarceration during World War II, and the importance of preserving cultural and heritage resources that tell these stories. Planned program sites include Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Building, the Panama Hotel and Nidoto Nai Yoni Memorial on Bainbridge Island.
Any high school age student may apply. Full scholarships covering lodging, meals, programming, and travel during YHP activities will be awarded to all accepted applicants. Participants are responsible for their own travel to and from downtown Seattle, but additional scholarship funds may be available for travel assistance.
Please visit Discover Washington: Youth Heritage Project for more information or to apply. Applications may be submitted electronically or by mail, and the deadline is April 18, 2014.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
USA Today published a story today about volunteer jobs in the national parks... and mentioned Mount Rainier as an example!
Mount Rainier National Park (Washington): Thirteen volunteer opportunities ranging from campground hosts to working with a butterfly project (June 1-Sept.15).
Read the whole story here.
Monday, March 3, 2014
|An SCA Community Crew poses with Congressman Dave|
Reichert (far left, in black) on the Glacier Basin Trail in 2010
Since 1984, the community program has engaged Seattle-area youth in local conservation activities. In 1994, the program began bringing crews to Mount Rainier for 15-day leadership projects, mostly building and repairing trails. Over the past two decades more than 750 young people have contributed more than 50,000 hours of service at the park.
In 2012, a new partnership with Joint Base Lewis-McChord added military families to those served by the community program. Last summer almost half of Mount Rainier's Community Crew members were from JBLM.
If the award is approved, it will be presented to SCA's Seattle office by the Director of the National Park Service, Jon Jarvis.
The full text of the nomination follows. I've added some photos of SCA crews in action over the last several years.
|A 2013 crew repairs a section of the Trail of the Shadows|
SCA first brought Community Crews to Mount Rainier National Park in 1994, and since 2000 has fielded an average of three 15-day crews per year. Participants have constructed, rebuilt, repaired, and maintained dozens of miles of trail: creating tread, installing water bars, constructing retaining walls, building bridges, clearing brush, laying gravel, planting and transplanting native species, and digging out hundreds of stumps and boulders. After Mount Rainier’s floods in 2006, Community Crews almost single-handedly rebuilt almost four miles of the Wonderland Trail above Longmire and helped reconstruct the Glacier Basin Trail.
Even more important than the program’s construction statistics, SCA’s Community Crews have introduced generations of students – and often their families and peers – to a lifetime of stewardship. Many graduates of the program go on to serve on SCA national crews, as SCA interns in positions around the country, and most significantly, as seasonal and permanent employees with the National Park Service and other agencies.
Since 1984, SCA has introduced over 750 students to conservation leadership at Mount Rainier National Park. Over the past decade alone those students have contributed 29,600 hours of service at the park. This investment in the park’s natural, cultural, and human resources will pay dividends for generations to come.
|Crew members work at Longmire in 2013|
Today’s SCA Conservation Crew members are tomorrow’s Park Rangers, and SCA continues to innovate to open doors to help make that happen. Programs like SCA’s National Park Service Academy seek to bridge the gap between community outreach and national service. New outreach to military families further expands SCA’s national influence. Almost half of SCA’s Mount Rainier’s crew members in 2013 came from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and will take their experiences with them as their families move to new postings all over the world.
A very specific example of SCA’s national significance will be present at the Community Program’s 30th Anniversary celebration in April: Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, whose parents served as crew leaders in Mount Rainier National Park in 1970-1971, will articulate the impact that visiting those crews had on forming his environmental ethic.
|Community Crew members (in blue) work with the|
Washington Trails Association on a section of
the Skyline Trail at Paradise in 2012
First, in November 2006, 18 inches of rain fell in 36 hours in Mount Rainier National Park. The resulting floods washed out roads, trails, and campgrounds throughout the park. Within a month, Jay Satz, Regional Vice President of the Seattle Office of SCA, met with the park’s Superintendent to propose a new level of partnership, which would bring together park employees, conservation groups, Community Crews, and public volunteers to rebuild the park’s infrastructure. The logistics of coordinating 3500 volunteers over two years were staggering, yet SCA pulled it off and in the process helped double Mount Rainier’s level of volunteer participation. Community Crews played a key role in getting the work done, and a special Mount Rainier Recovery Corps helped organize and lead public volunteers in trail repair, landscape restoration, and campground reconstruction.
The second challenge is less specific but more far-reaching. With a limited budget to support the volunteer program, Mount Rainier National Park has never been able to guarantee long-term funding of our partnership with SCA’s Community Crews. Instead, every year involves fundraising, grant writing, and gathering of support from whatever quarter it can be found to piece together the program, often at the last minute. And yet the program has survived for over 20 years without a break. SCA’s Seattle staff has worked tirelessly to ensure survival of our Community Crews, cobbling together National Park Service funding with support from grants, donations, corporate sponsorships, and partnerships. We dream of a day when funding is guaranteed for multiple years, but in the meantime, we couldn’t be in better hands.
Third, SCA’s commitment to youth outreach must be singled out as second to none. Long-term success by such programs depends on providing young people with not just a single transformative experience, but a continuum including a second, and a third, each building on the last to culminate in employment or, at least, a lifetime commitment to conservation. No partner understands this better than SCA, and they have achieved great success in following up with Conservation Crew members to lead them to the next step in the process, both through their own programs and through partners like the North Cascades Institute and eventually the National Park Service. The National Park Service Academy is a recent example of such innovative youth outreach.
|Superintendent Randy King checks in with a crew|
member working in Stevens Canyon in 2011
Many of them will trace their roots back to Seattle, and to fifteen days spent on a Community Crew at Mount Rainier National Park directed by the Student Conservation Association. No other partner has done more to help us achieve this vision, and it is for this reason that we nominate the Community Crew program of the Student Conservation Association in Seattle for the Director’s Partnership Award.
|Crew members take a photo break on|
National Public Lands Day in 2008
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
For twenty years, students from Waseda University in Tokyo have been coming to Mount Rainier National Park to volunteer. Now, the park is nominating the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association for a George Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, in recognition of their work. Nominations for this award are submitted by parks around the country and face stiff competition, but we feel that J-VIPA stands an excellent chance of receiving national recognition for their efforts.
We've written a lot on these blog pages about J-VIPA over the years; but now we'd like to share with you the things that make them the worthy recipient of an award presented by the Director of the National Park Service. Here is exhibit A, a letter of support from our Superintendent, Randy King:
In 1994, a group of students from Waseda University in Tokyo came to Mount Rainier National Park to serve as volunteers and built a brand new, wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and viewpoint at Kautz Creek. Twenty years later, the “Japan Volunteers in Parks Association” (JVIPA) has a legacy of more than 23,000 hours of service contributed by nearly 400 students and University staff. Their work on trails, viewpoints, campsites, picnic areas and natural landscapes can be seen all over the park. Many of the Mount Rainier staff have formed life-long friendships with members of the group.
JVIPA is one of the longest and most productive volunteer partnerships in Mount Rainier’s history. As they wrap up their time with the park and move on to other projects, it is impossible to overvalue their influence. Park staff have worked alongside them and hosted them in their homes. They have shared with the park a dedication to the mission of the National Park Service, improving facilities for today’s visitors, and restoring natural and cultural resources for future generations.
It would take many pages to list all of the things JVIPA accomplished over the past two decades, but I would just mention a few highlights. A few years ago, group members built an ADA-accessible trailhead at Paradise, dramatically improving access for visitors with mobility challenges to one of the park’s most beautiful wildflower meadows. The previous year, JVIPA arranged for the donation and construction of a $70,000 “Bio Toilet” at Cougar Rock Campground to demonstrate sustainable design. Hidden inside the structure are the signatures of the Japanese students who built it. Some projects have taken many years: construction of a trail at Round Pass, for example, and the rehabilitation of a viewpoint at Paradise. Many students have chosen to return multiple years at significant personal expense to see these projects through to completion.
Last summer, two dozen students, many of them alumni of earlier programs, a few now with children of their own, gathered for the last time at Mount Rainier. As they have always done, they stayed with host families (park employees and community members in Ashford and Eatonville), commuting daily to the park. They combined educational and recreational activities with hard work, including the construction of ten solid, historic-style picnic tables for our Longmire Stewardship Campground—tables that will be used by volunteers, school groups, tribal members and other park partners for decades to come.
Over the years, our partnership with JVIPA has led to other exchanges as well. Our education program has profited from an active (and ongoing) collaboration with teachers in Japan. Park managers and advocates have come to the U.S. from Japan, and the park has participated in conferences there in return. I had the great privilege of addressing such a group myself a few years ago, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Volunteers-in-Parks program was established by Director George Hartzog as a means for including in the stewardship of the National Parks those for whom the parks were created. It is a tribute to George Hartzog’s legacy that these stewards include several hundred members of the International community who have donated twenty years of service and good will at Mount Rainier National Park through the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association. We are grateful for their hard work, and I am honored to recommend them for the George Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.
Mount Rainier National Park
Submitted along with Superintendent King's letter, here is the official nomination text. I've taken the liberty of inserting a few photos from J-VIPA projects over the years.
Brief Summary of Exceptional Accomplishments:
|J-VIPA volunteers build picnic tables in the|
Longmire Volunteer Campground in 2013
This year’s volunteer effort marks the final year of a 20-year partnership with J-VIPA that began in 1994. Since that time, a total of 386 individual program participants have contributed 23,040 hours of voluntary service to the park, improving park facilities and the park’s natural and cultural resources (see details below). Some students have returned multiple years, traveling to the U.S. at their own expense for up to three weeks of volunteer service and staying with host families in communities around the park. The J-VIPA program is one of the largest and most enduring international volunteer partnerships in the National Park Service.
After 20 years, the J-VIPA program is retiring its partnership with Mount Rainier to focus on volunteer efforts closer to home, especially in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in 2011. We seek to recognize them not only for their work in 2013, but for twenty years of sustained effort that has had a profound and positive effect on the park, its visitors, and its staff.
Magnitude of Work: What was the extent of the work accomplished? What made the work, project, contribution, or program exceptional? Was the program well-managed and efficient? In what ways did the nominee demonstrate creativity or originality?
|A J-VIPA volunteer works on restoring a storm-damaged|
campsite in the Ohanapecosh Campground in 2012
Visitors can see J-VIPA’s contributions to Mount Rainier in almost every part of the National Park. J-VIPA volunteers planted, weeded, and repotted plants in the park’s greenhouse. They removed invasive species along the Westside Road and planted native species at Paradise. They built an accessible boardwalk and viewpoint at Kautz Creek in 1994, and rebuilt it in 2005 after it was damaged by flooding. They built historic-style picnic tables at the Longmire Stewardship Campground in 2013. In 2008 J-VIPA members helped build and dedicate a prototype composting toilet at Cougar Rock Campground, donated by Groundwork Mishima, an environmental organization in Japan. They improved the popular Nisqually Vista viewpoint at Paradise in 2000, and in 2009 built a paved, wheelchair-accessible trailhead for the Skyline Trail behind the Jackson Visitor Center. Over the years they rehabilitated and rebuilt picnic sites at Paradise and campsites at Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, and White River in response to long-term use and storm damage, and built, improved, and maintained miles of trail all over the park.
The managers of the J-VIPA program, notably its director, Hiro Yamaguchi, have spent twenty years creating a highly successful program that runs smoothly and efficiently despite the significant challenges inherent to an international program. Every year, Hiro works with the staff of Mount Rainier National Park to organize volunteer projects, satisfy visa requirements, and arrange host families. He has built a program that creatively combines service work with educational and recreational field trips, potlucks, and other opportunities for the students to learn about the Unite States. Over the past two decades, 386 students have participated in the program, some of them multiple times, including 24 in 2013.
J-VIPA is exceptional as a model for long-term international volunteer service. I know of no other program in the National Park Service that has maintained such a high level of participation over such a long period of time.
Meeting the Mission: How has the volunteer, group, or program improved conditions for the park facilities or operations, resources and/or visitors? How did the nominee support the NPS mission?
|In 2009, J-VIPA crew members built a new ADA-accessible|
trailhead at Paradise that bypasses these steps
It is safe to say that a high percentage of our visitors make use of facilities built or maintained by the J-VIPA program – whether it’s stopping at the popular Kautz Creek viewpoint built in 1994, or camping at Longmire or Ohanapecosh in sites restored in 2012 and 2013, or enjoying picnic areas, trails, or natural landscapes constructed or rehabilitated over the twenty years of our partnership.
Challenges: Describe any challenges the nominee may have faced.
|J-VIPA members in traditional costumes pose with park|
staff and host families at their farewell party in 2007
In addition, any international program inherently involves additional challenges. Hiro has worked patiently with the U.S. State Department and the National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs to comply with ever-changing standards for obtaining international visas. He’s coordinated dozens of flights between Tokyo and Seattle, moving hundreds of student volunteers back and forth across the Pacific and then on to host families and daily work sites.
Mount Rainier’s staff has changed frequently over the years, so J-VIPA’s managers have worked with a long series of Superintendents, supervisors, and volunteer coordinates to keep the program running. And because Mount Rainier doesn’t have enough housing within the park for groups of up to two dozen volunteers, Hiro and his staff have arranged for park employees and community members to host students in their homes, in the process enhancing opportunities for cross-cultural experience and education for everyone involved.
Partnerships: How did the project or program build partnerships or boost public interest? Please explain.
|The BioToilet at Cougar Rock|
Campground is inscribed with the
signatures of the J-VIPA members
who helped build it in 2008
- Over the winter of 2002-2003, Mount Rainier’s Superintendent and Chief of Interpretation were invited to Japan to participate in a conference discussing issues facing national parks in both countries. The participants in this conference included two agencies (Japan’s Ministry of Environment and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation), two conservation organizations (Fujisan Club and Washington’s National Park Fund), and a university (Tokyo’s Waseda University).
- During the summer of 2003, several members of Tokyo’s Fujisan Club visited Mount Rainier. The group is dedicated to protecting the natural areas surrounding Mount Fuji (which was designated a “sister mountain” to Mount Rainier all the way back in 1936). Over a period of several days, the visiting Fujisan members explored Mount Rainier’s trails, visited its facilities, and met with its managers to discuss common issues of resource protection, visitor service, and volunteerism.
- From time to time, J-VIPA volunteers have stayed on or arrived early to serve as individual volunteers at Mount Rainier. In 2007, for example, Tamaki Yasuoka spent three weeks working with the park’s interpretation and education programs.
- In 2008, Groundwork Mishima, a Japanese environmental organization, donated a prototype “BioToilet” to Mount Rainier to demonstrate sustainable park management practices. The high-tech bathroom, still in use at Cougar Rock Campground, operates with almost no maintenance or effluent.
- Mount Rainier’s education program spent several years working with teachers in Japan to develop curricula that could be used in both Japan and the U.S. to teach students about volcanoes by comparing and contrasting the geology and cultural significance of Mount Rainier and Mount Fuji. The project culminated in a visit to the U.S. by six Japanese educators in 2010, and a trip to Japan by our staff in 2012, to share and compare and resources and training. (See http://www.nps.gov/mora/forteachers/sister-mountain.htm.)
- This spring—in March 2014—15 people will fly to Japan for a week-long cultural exchange, staying with host families and participating in two days of volunteer service at a site near Mount Fuji. The group is made up of members of Mount Rainier’s staff and surrounding community (some as young as age 13) who have worked with J-VIPA students during its 20 years here, and represents an opportunity for us to return the favor, in a very small way, for the many years of service the program’s members have donated to us. Planning for this trip has been going on between staff at Mount Rainier and the Ministry of Environment in Japan since 2012.
- While J-VIPA has been working with us at Mount Rainier, they have also been increasingly active in volunteer efforts back home in Japan. This work accelerated and took on new urgency following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. J-VIPA students make expeditions (sometimes weekly) to communities hard-hit by the natural disaster, helping to rebuild homes and trail systems in coastal towns and parks.
After twenty years of service, J-VIPA is now wrapping up its partnership with Mount Rainier National Park and applying the lessons learned to build a vital volunteer program at home. Our own park, volunteer program, and community have all been enriched beyond measure, and it is for this reason that we nominate the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association for the 2013 Hartzog Volunteer Group Award.
Learn more about the Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, including last year's recipients of the award, on the National Park Service website.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
|Painting by Allan Dreyer, Mount Rainier volunteer|
Please join us for an uplifting presentation about the current state of our national parks in Washington. Mt. Rainier Superintendent Randy King, Laurie Ward, Executive Director from WNPF, and Ranger Kevin Bacher will talk about the current challenges, recent achievements and plans in the future.
RANDY KING: Randy King is the current Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park.He has worked all over the US, and even in a World Heritage Area exchange in Australia. Randy grew up in Michigan, and remembers spending most weekends outdoors with his family. Randy describes Mount Rainier National Park as “a powerful place that encompasses all you would expect from a national park.” He likes to get outside as much as possible, and still goes out to hike with his family almost every weekend.
KEVIN BACHER: Kevin Bacher is the Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager at Mount Rainier National Park. He has a Master's Degree in Natural Resource Management from Cornell University, and has been working for the National Park Service since volunteering at the Grand Canyon in 1986.
LAURIE WARD: Laurie Ward is the Executive Director of Washington’s National Park Fund, where she has served since spring, 2010. She has a Master’s in Education from the University of Wisconsin. In her free time, she and her husband enjoy hiking in our national parks and forests with their yellow lab, Brady.
Monday, February 24, 2014
As many of you probably know, over the past week and a half Paradise has gotten a lot of new snow. When I took the total measurement on Sunday morning, the reading was 177 inches. The snow was still falling as the wind blew it into the already covered trees, creating a scene as picturesque as the inside of a snow globe. With all this new snow, there is even more fun to be had out on the trails volunteering with the snow rover program!
Contact Ben Monroe at MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov to sign up to volunteer!
|Citizen Scientist Karen Murante collects|
MeadoWatch data on Mazama Ridge in 2013
NASA's grant program seeks to find useful ecological or natural resource management applications for its Earth observation products, in combination with biological observations by citizen scientists. The grant will fund a one-year feasibility study, which could be followed by three years of additional funding if the first year produces promising results.
In our case, the project is based on four premises:
- Snow disappearance can be forecast from MODIS Snow Cover imagery, captured by satellite, in combination with SNOTEL data collected at the Paradise weather station.
- Snow disappearance influences the timing of wildflower bloom. (Previous research by Elli Theobold, beginning in 2002, has shown a strong correlation between the two.)
- Quantifying wildflower "phenology" (the dates of budding, flowering, and setting seed) is feasible through Citizen Science.
- Natural resource management and conservation would be improved by a better understanding of the dates of snow disappearance and wildflower bloom.
|NASA imagery from January 2014|
(for a comparison with 2013, see the
Cliff Mass weather blog.)
Meanwhile, volunteer will continue to be a key component of the research. This summer, MeadoWatch volunteers will return to the Paradise trails to watch and document the flowers as they bud, bloom, and set seeds. These ground-based, human-gathered data will be combined with high tech satellite imagery to come up with new ways of understanding our world.
If you'd like to participate in the MeadoWatch program, visit the project website at https://sites.google.com/a/uw.edu/meadowatch/, or contact Anna Wilson, MeadoWatch coordinator, at email@example.com. You can also upload your own wildflower photos to the group's Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/groups/meadowatch/.
Here is the original project proposal that won the NASA grant:
|Snow, Montane Wildflowers, and Citizen Scientists|
HilleRisLambers, Lundquist & Rochefort
The timing of key life events like reproduction (i.e. phenology) is tightly linked to climate. For example, alpine wildflowers emerge and flower within a few weeks of snow disappearance, and complete their life‐cycles before first frost in early autumn. Because annual variability in snow disappearance is large, the timing of seasonal wildflower displays also varies annually, influencing visitation and staffing needs within parks. Additionally, as climate change causes earlier snow disappearance, wildflowers that cannot shift their phenology to match this altered “climate window” may decline. Thus, resource managers and conservation biologists need the ability to seasonally forecast snow disappearance and wildflower phenology as well as monitor their long‐term annual trends to better conserve and manage high mountain wildflower meadows.
To address these issues, we propose to combine MODIS‐based images of snow covered area (SCA), citizen science observations and models to develop decision‐making tools at Mt. Rainier National Park (Washington). Specifically, we will develop and validate snow models driven by MODIS SCA and daily observations of temperature, precipitation and snow (from a SNOTEL climate station) that generate spatially explicit forecasts of snow disappearance date. Next, we will use date‐stamped photos of wildflowers from photo‐sharing websites to develop phenological forecasts driven by snow disappearance date. Phenological models will be validated with data from an existing citizen science program, which will be expanded in scope to meet monitoring goals. Finally, we will partner with the National Park Service to create a long‐term monitoring program of snow dynamics and wildflower phenology. Operationally, these estimates will 1) help managers plan where and when trail maintenance, conservation/restoration activities, and monitoring can occur, 2) allow visitors to better plan trips to view and photograph wildflowers, and eventually, 3) help resource managers identify the climatic and biological signs of climate change.