Friday, April 29, 2016

Cayuse Pass Opens Today, More Access to East Side of Park

From a press release issued from the Washington State Department of Transportation on Tuesday, April 26, 2016:

UPDATE: The pass opened to traffic around 3:15pm Thursday, April 28.  Crews were able to complete roadway damage repairs early and the highway reopened ahead of the scheduled noon Friday opening.

Despite roadway damage and debris, Washington State Department of Transportation crews have reopened State Route 123.  WSDOT and the National Park Service have been working to reopen the pass since the beginning of March.  Crews have cleared all of the snow off of State Route 410 between Crystal Mountain Boulevard and State Route 123 near Stevens Canyon Road.  However, roadway damage repairs are still needed this week prior to reopening, along with additional debris clearing work in the weeks ahead.

The great spring weather made snow removal a quick process this year, but the havoc left behind from winter windstorms is making clearing a challenge.  More than 40 trees came down over the roadway.

WSDOT Photo


Starting noon Friday, the Stevens Canyon Entrance to the Park will also reopen up to the Grove of the Patriarchs trailhead, where public restrooms will be available.  The rest of Stevens Canyon Road is projected to open in late May.  White Rive Road and Sunrise Road via the White River Entrance remains closed.

Crews from the east side of the mountains are making progress in clearing Chinook Pass as well.  They hope to have it open by Memorial Day.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

REI Foundation Invests in Next Generation of Stewards at Mount Rainier

This week The REI Foundation announced an unprecedented $1 million investment in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) to inspire, educate and engage the next generation of outdoor stewards. Decades after Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the New Deal, during which Americans planted more than 3 billion trees and created 800 parks, supporters of the outdoors are contributing to a national effort spearheaded by the U.S. Department of the Interior to establish quality jobs, career pathways and service opportunities for youth and veterans in America's great outdoors.

Inspired by the 21CSC's goal to "preserve, protect and promote America's greatest gifts," The REI Foundation is funding projects in 19 national parks throughout the country, forming part of the co-op's multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership with the National Park Foundation.
 
"This is a once in a lifetime chance for REI to invest in the leaders who will help keep our parks healthy and accessible for the next 100 years," said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO.
 
 
The projects that The REI Foundation is investing in will connect new communities to the outdoors. Young people—including underserved high school and college students, inner-city youth and multicultural groups—will get real-world work experience in nearby parks. They will be paid as stewards of the outdoors, revitalizing the nation's most iconic and inspiring places, building and maintaining trail access and improving safety to help visitors go deeper.
 
"We're grateful for private sector partnerships with companies like REI that encourage a lifelong ethic of stewardship of the great outdoors," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "Thanks to REI's generosity, we're putting young people and returning veterans to work restoring and protecting our nation's land, water and wildlife while creating a connection to nature and public lands that can last a lifetime."  
 
Several projects will take place at a specific national park location—from the Santa Monica Mountains in California to Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.—while others will span multiple national park sites this summer. The REI Foundation also supported four projects last summer at Colorado's Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and in the Flagstaff area's National Monuments. 
 
 
The following projects are made possible by The REI Foundation's investment, in partnership with supporting nonprofit organizations and other donors:
  • California (Latino Heritage Internship Program): The Hispanic Access Foundation and Environment for the Americas will host more than 40 college students—including one intern per location—to develop interpretive programs, support museum and archival work, participate in archaeological fieldwork and engage in community outreach. These projects will take place at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park over 10 weeks.

  • Colorado (Rocky Mountain National Park): A crew of 10-16 high school and college age youth will join the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to improve the Bierstadt Lake Trail.

  • Georgia (Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area): The Greening Youth Foundation will offer an employment opportunity for up to six high school youth to build and maintain trails during this four-week program.

  • Montana (Glacier National Park): Spanning four to 10 weeks, 12-24 high school and college age youth will join the Glacier Conservancy to reconstruct the iconic Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass.

  • Washington, D.C. (Rock Creek National Park): Fourteen inner-city high school students will work with the Student Conservation Association to repair the Valley Trail over eight to 10 weeks.

  • Washington (Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park): A group of young people will help restore the iconic Wonderland Trail and Enchanted Valley Trail.

  • Various states (Groundwork Green Teams): Groundwork USA will partner with up to 120 youth ages 14-18 to provide summer experiences that combine community service, outdoor recreation and leadership development. Projects range from two to six weeks at up to seven national park sites, emphasizing water-based recreation and work activities.

  • Various states (Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative): The Greening Youth Foundation will work with approximately 50 college students to improve river access, provide ocean sciences education and convey social justice through art across multiple national park locations. This project will also support one to two interns per site to work with the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to develop case studies for water recreation.
 
 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mount Rainier's 2015 Astronomy Geoscientist-in-the-Parks' Photo Featured on US Postal Service Stamp

 

Mount Rainier's 2015 Astronomy Geoscientist-in-the-Parks intern and volunteer Matt Dieterich has something to write home about now that one of his images captured after leading an astronomy program at Paradise last summer will be immortalized on a Forever Stamp by the United States Postal Service. 

Matt was quoted saying "This night is one that I will never forget.  After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed that there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lakes to capture it."

"To capture star trails photos like this," he added "all you need is a digital single lens reflex camera, a wide angle lens, tripod, and shutter release cable.  So what are you waiting for?  Grab your gear and get out under the stars!"

The June 2 day-of-issuance ceremony for the National Parks Forever Stamps pane will take place at New York City's Jarvis Center at 11:00am as part of the World Stamp Show - NY 2016.  Dedication ceremonies will happen at or near each of the National Parks depicted on the stamps.  Keep an eye out for an event coming to Mount Rainier National Park to celebrate Matt's great accomplishment!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

MRNPA April 30th Work Party

From John Titland:

Here are the details of the Mount Rainier National Park Associates volunteer trails work party happening on April 30th.

We will meet at the Carbon River entrance to the Park between 8:30 and 9:00 AM.  Our cars will be parked inside the locked gate so drive right up to the gate and someone will open the gate and let you in.  Be ready to head out by 9:00 AM.  The word I get Is: Most likely you will be going up the Boundary Trail.  For those of you that haven't been up the Boundary Trail - expect a good uphill workout just getting to the work site.  Be sure to bring a warm jacket and good raingear.  We have had several cold, wet days when working at Carbon River this early in the season.

If you plan to attend, please reply to this email to indicate that you are coming and to tell me how many volunteers you are bringing with you.

There are safety equipment requirements for all MRNPA trail work volunteers. (These rules apply to all trail workers.)  Anyone using an aggressive tool - like a Pulaski, ax, shovel, etc. - or anyone working near them - is required to wear a hard hat and safety glasses.  People working with or near a less aggressive tools are not required (but will be encouraged) to wear a hard hat.  If you own a hard hat that you can wear, please bring it.  If you do not have a hard hat, we and the NPS have hard hats that we loan for the day.

Wearing safety glasses is encouraged at all times. Not all safety glasses are comfortable for everyone and some will not fit over eye glasses.  Because of cleanliness issues, some people don’t like wearing safety glasses that have been worn by other people.  For these reasons, and probably many others, please purchase (acquire, find, dig-up, whatever) a pair of personal safety glasses that you will wear.  The local hardware store is a good place to start shopping.  A serviceable pair or safety glasses will cost about $10.  And be advised that shatterproof eye glasses do not meet the requirement for safety glasses. Safety glasses all have side protection which eyeglasses do not.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

MRNPA's First Work Party of 2016

This is an excerpt from an email sent out by John Titland, Volunteer Coordinator for the Mount Rainier National Park Associates.  If you are interested in joining on this work party or learning more about this exciting partner group, please visit mrnpa.org.

The first Mount Rainier National Park Associates trails work party of this season will be on Saturday, April 30th.  I do not yet know where we will be working.  It has been a good snow year, not like last year, so we will most likely be working at either Longmire or Carbon River.  I will inform you as soon as I know. The meeting time is, as always, between 8:30 and 9:00 AM.  Be ready to head out by 9:00 AM.
 
If you plan to attend, please reply to this email to indicate that you are coming and to tell me how many volunteers you are bringing with you.
 
There are safety equipment requirements for all MRNPA trail work volunteers. (These rules apply to all trail workers.)  Anyone using an aggressive tool - like a Pulaski, ax, shovel, etc. - or anyone working near them - is required to wear a hard hat and safety glasses.  People working with or near a less aggressive tools are not required (but will be encouraged) to wear a hard hat.  If you own a hard hat that you can wear, please bring it.  If you do not have a hard hat, we and the NPS have hard hats that we loan for the day.

Wearing safety glasses is encouraged at all times. Not all safety glasses are comfortable for everyone and some will not fit over eye glasses.  Because of cleanliness issues, some people don’t like wearing safety glasses that have been worn by other people.  For these reasons, and probably many others, please purchase (acquire, find, dig-up, whatever) a pair of personal safety glasses that you will wear.  The local hardware store is a good place to start shopping.  A serviceable pair or safety glasses will cost about $10.  And be advised that shatterproof eye glasses do not meet the requirement for safety glasses. Safety glasses all have side protection which eyeglasses do not.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Mount Rainier Love Story

Over the winter, VIP Eve Dumovich researched and compiled stories of the Pacific Northwest, and wanted to share this traditional Cowlitz tale.

______________________________________________



Among the most romantic Native American legends about Mount Rainier is from the Cowlitz tradition and tells a love story between Lawiswis, Queen of the Fairies, and the Great Spirit Nekahni. This story is told in the “Brief History Of Mount Rainier National Park” in the park archives and  in “Echoes of the Forest” a collection of  poems inspired by Northwest Native American tales by William Edgar Brown, as well as in other historical documents.
 
Nekahni, the Great Spirit, lived on the slopes of Mount Rainier in the upper portion of Paradise Valley. There he kept his flocks of wild goats, and from there, he watched and ruled the earth spread out below him. He only left the mountain when he had to meet with Col├ęsnass Cold Wind, with Skamson Thunder Bird, or with Yootch, Thunder Chief,

 The lovely Queen Lawiswis lived in the lower part of the Nisqually Valley and ruled over everything beautiful. When she went to the seashore, the seashells worshiped her and caught the morning dew as nectar for her to drink.
When Lawiswis was up in the Paradise Valley, she was served by the roses, who in those days were pure white and had no thorns. They captured the morning dew for her in their cupped flowers.

Nekahni fell in love with Lawiswis and so that he could be with her, built her a bower in Paradise made out of the snow-white gentle roses. When he was not busy with his goats, or visiting his weather chiefs, he stayed with Lawiswis and love blossomed with the high alpine flowers.

At the same time, deep in the dark gorge of the Nisqually River, a terrible, ugly and angry witch called Memelek developed a hatred for Lawiswis. Memelek wore strips of cougar skins tied together with skins of fairies she murdered. Poisonous snakes clustered around her neck and waist. Whenever she wanted to kill anything, she sent her army of snakes to do the job.

So one day, while Nekahni was busy with his goats high on the massive and square-cut Gibraltar Rock on the southeastern side of the mountain, Memelek decided to take care of the unsuspecting Lawiswis.

 Memelek left her home in the canyon, climbed the mountain and crept through the morning mist to the rose bower where the Queen lay sleeping. Once there, Memelek would let her snakes loose so they could kill her target.

Luckily, the mountain mist is everywhere at once so it warned the roses about the danger to their mistress. What could they do? The roses used the mist to send a message to Nekahni who sent a spell back.

Just as the snakes reached the bower, the roses turned red and sprouted sharp thorns that pierced the snakes and made them rush back to their mistress.

So it was that the Queen of all that is Beautiful was saved and the evil Memelek was banished to the deepest darkest gorge of the Nisqually where she has remained ever since. To this day, there are thorns on the red roses and snakes on the Paradise side of mountain are not poisonous.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Remember that Awesome Centennial Coin?

We have finally entered the National Park Service's Centennial Year!  I'm sure you may have heard a word or two about the Centennial this year, and one of the nationwide goals is to engage communities through volunteerism.  Well, I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but volunteers are really what make the NPS work, especially here at Mount Rainier.  So, we have a new incentive just for 2016 that may be of interest to you!


Registered volunteers who contribute 201.6 hours of service between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 can earn a Centennial Volunteer Challenge Coin!




Here's how it all works:
  • Recipients must be registered national park volunteers.
  • Centennial Volunteer Challenge Coins are issued for hours served between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.
  • Awards are issued for volunteer service only.
  • Court-ordered community service does NOT qualify.
  • Volunteers must track their own hours and provide dates, hours served, and a brief description of the service provided.
  • Service must be approved and verified by the program manager.
  • Only hours served during the 12 month period of the centennial year will count towards the award.
And that's it!  The coins are just beginning to enter production, but once they are made and have entered the park, keep an eye out for more information!

UPDATE:  Here is the official memo and an hours sheet to help you keep track of your hours through 2016!



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Future Rangers



And remember... many of our Today Volunteers are also Future Rangers!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Guess Who is Coming Back?

If you guessed the Student Conservation Association's Community Crews, then you would be 100% correct!  But, why are we so excited?  Well, read on to find out...


The SCA's Community Crews have called Mount Rainier National Park home for quite a few years now.  Last year, the SCA brought eighteen 14-18 year olds into the park for two weeks of back country trails projects, front country projects, education programs, and countless interactions with Rangers from all over the park.  Completing 2160 hours of volunteer service in 2015 alone, the SCA Community Crews helped complete over 7,500 feet of trail brushing and installed 34 check steps along some popular trails, like the Skyline Trail and the Nisqually Vista Loop, as well as some lesser traveled trails, like the Snow Lake Trail and the North Puyallup Trail. 


 
 



Either setting up shop in the Longmire Stewardship Campground or spiked out to Klaspache Point, the Community Crews were always in high spirits and spent much of their free time exploring all reaches of the park.  Odds are, if you had volunteered this summer, you probably met at least one crew member.


We have recently learned that the SCA Community Crews will return to Mount Rainier, thanks special funding coming from the National Park Service's Youth Partnerships Program.  So, when you see those bright blue shirts and blaze yellow hardhats on trail this summer, make sure to stop and say "hello!" and "thank you!" to these amazing crews.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Short Drive to Sunrise

After spending the day sharing their experiences as Volunteers at Mount Rainier National Park with Browns Point Elementary School students, Pete and DiAnne Sabin made a quick side-trip to the Lemay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma, where they were so thankful for the Sabin's service to the parks, they let them borrow a car and take it up to Sunrise!