Saturday, April 7, 2007

Field Notes

Park Ranger Alison Robb describes the proposed site for the Student Conservation Association Field Camp to SCA project managers Willie Ehrenclou and Jill Baum

It may not look like it on the surface, but behind the scenes, there's a tremendous amount going on in preparation for our summer volunteer season. Most significantly this past week, Jill Baum and Willie Ehrenclou, both project managers with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), arrived to help coordinate our volunteer effort for the summer. They have hit the ground running, and are busy identifying volunteer projects, hiring crew leaders, and developing a field camp in the old Longmire Campground where our crew leaders will live for the summer season. In addition, Ali Saperstein in the Seattle SCA office is assisting us part-time to improve our ability to effectively match up park supervisors with potential volunteers.
We sat down on Thursday with Carl Fabiani, Mount Rainier's Trails Foreman, to discuss specific projects for our volunteer opportunities calendar. In most cases, it's still too early to put anything definite down on paper yet, because the snow is just beginning to melt out at the lowest elevations, and because our trail crew leaders are just now coming on board for the summer. Carl's assistant, Julie Okita, will arrive April 16, and with her help, we should be able to start filling the early part of the calendar with specific trail projects. We know there will be lots of work to do--our patrol rangers recently discovered another 3/4 of a mile of trail washed out on the way to Glacier Basin, for instance, and our owl survey crews have reported several more bridges out on the East Side Trail.

We're starting to get projects from other programs in the park as well. Like the trails program, now that seasonal staff is starting to arrive, we're able to plan more effectively what our work for the summer will be, and how we'll add volunteers to the team. By the end of this month, we anticipate that we'll have a healthy list of short-term volunteer opportunities on our projects page.
We're also organizing our mailing list, so that as projects are identified, we'll be able to match them up with those of you who've already offered to help. Some of you may be getting return phone calls in the next few weeks, either with specific project proposals, or to confirm tentative project dates, with details to be determined later. We understand that you need to plan ahead too! It looks like, with a few exceptions, most of our work will begin in May: when our seasonal workforce arrives, when the snow melts a little more, and (a matter of no small importance) when our roads reopen. With more staff, we can better plan and begin to supervise our summer projects; with bare ground, we can better see what's damaged and what needs to be done; and when the first of our roadwork is completed--hopefully around the end of this month or the beginning of next, between Nisqually Entrance and Paradise--we'll actually be able to get to the places where we need to work.
I'll be joining my family for a week of spring break starting tomorrow, but Jill and Willie will be working hard in my absence to continue our preparations for the summer. I'll look forward to updating you on all they've accomplished when I return.

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