Saturday, June 2, 2007

National Trails Day

We had volunteers all over the park today for National Trails Day. I spent the afternoon checking out two different projects near Longmire. I am continually stunned by the extent of the damage caused by last November’s floods—on the Wonderland Trail sections we were working on today, a full 2,000 meters of trail was affected, with trees down, chunks of trail missing, and long stretches ruined by water erosion.

I am also continually amazed at the energy of our volunteers, and their willingness to jump in, learn new skills (tread repair, using a crosscut saw), and get the job done. In one spot, in the space of three hours, half a dozen volunteers (out of a larger group four times that size) transformed a rough cut through the forest into something strongly resembling a National Park Service quality trail. In addition, the remains of the old trail were covered with brush, and many of the forest plants growing in the new trail corridor had been carefully transplanted. The finish project looks amazing.
Our SCA-led Flood Recovery Corps had three projects going today, while our partners with the Washington Trails Association led others. Meanwhile, Carl Fabiani, Mount Rainier’s trails foreman, was in Stevens Canyon, evaluating the options for another section of the Wonderland Trail that needs to be rebuilt, either with a long reroute or a shorter but more difficult reconstruction along a steep hillside. The amount of work that remains to be done parkwide is sobering. But the energy that I see on the trail, brought by our volunteers, gives me a lot of hope that we’ll make good progress this summer.

Speaking of which, there are several new positions posted on our long-term volunteer opportunities page, from managing cultural landscapes to developing computer databases. I’ll be posting a few more shortly, including ongoing opportunities to help with soundscape monitoring and breeding toad surveys. Exciting stuff. We’re looking for people who want to help out a day or two per week, or a few times per month. If you know of such individuals, spread the word and send them our way!

Whatever you’re able to contribute, from one day per summer to one day per week, we’re grateful for your help. If you hike the Wonderland Trail from Longmire to Carter Falls any time soon, you’ll be grateful, too.

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