Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Success on Mount Rainier

I had a great climb on Mount Rainier this past weekend. The weather was crystal clear, conditions were generally good, the climbing was hard but fun, and everyone came home safely.... So what helped inspire me? The generous folks who helped sponsor my Rainier Challenge to help fix trails at Mount Rainer and across the Cascades.

Read more by Andrew Engelson on WTA's blog, "Signposts!"

Park's Resurgence Requires Heavy Lifting

A Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane thundered over Mount Rainier National Park on Monday, lifting more than 50,000 pounds of steel I-beam bridges to three backcountry locations. The bridges, and the $104,000 bill for the Sikorsky, are part of the park’s $36 million effort to recover from flooding in November. The work, said park superintendent Dave Uberuaga, is progressing faster than expected…. Uberuaga is pleased with the park’s recovery after being closed 180 days by the flooding. Credit for that goes to park employees, the hundreds of volunteers who have given their time, energy and sweat, and the money to make the repairs happen, he said.

Read more in an article by Jeffrey P. Mayor in The News Tribune!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Excitement at Camp Muir

The Mount Rainier climbing blog doesn't mention volunteers specifically, as Mike Gauthier relays information about current climbing conditions and high altitude rescues, but it's engrossing reading--especially when you know that many of the rangers working so hard on the upper mountain are, in fact, full-time volunteers, who receive, for their efforts, only a small reimbursement for living expenses, some climbing gear, and a chance to spend the summer living on an extraordinary mountain.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Focus on the Wonderland

The Wonderland Trail suffered tremendously from the floods of last fall. Because it circles the entire park, many sections of the trail are damaged, and hiking the whole trail is not being permitted this summer as a result. In some sections of the trail, bridges were taken out by the floodwaters, making the trail impassable. In other parts, whole sections of trail were washed away, leaving drop-offs where trail used to be. In these areas, it’s necessary to plan and construct a “reroute”--an entirely new trail to replace the old one that was washed out. The Mount Rainier Recovery Corps is working alongside the park’s trail crew so that this great trail can be reopened....

Read more by Mount Rainier Recovery Intern Susan Newman on SCA's Rainier News Blog!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cantwell Praises Park Staff for Repair Work

Mount Rainier National Park has paid employees more than $1.67 million for flood-recovery efforts alone. Washington’s Sen. Maria Cantwell’s recently commended park employees at Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades national parks for their work to restore public access after the fall floods....

As we all know, volunteers have played a major role as well! Read more on the website of The News Tribune, or read Senator Cantwell's comendation in its entirety.

Storm Repairs, Commendations, and August Events

As the summer moves along, Washington state storm recovery efforts are heating up. SCA and WTA programs are making great strides repairing damaged trails, bridges and campgrounds. Perhaps more importantly, this volunteer outreach is creating a feeling of ownership for the park's future among park volunteers....

Read more on the Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition blog!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2,000 Set Out to Care for Rainier: Students Lead Repairs on Storm-Damaged Rainier

Looking like a Civil War re-enactment, nine canvas tents sit in a row in the middle of an abandoned campground at Mount Rainier National Park. Lined up next to the moss-covered remains of picnic tables, under towering Douglas firs, the tents and a converted carnival-concession trailer are base camp for the crew leaders who will be directing an army of 2,000 volunteers on the mountain this summer....

Read more in an article by Colin McDonald on the website of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Deputy Secretary Scarlett Presents 2007 National Take Pride In America® Award Winners

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett today recognized the 2007 Take Pride in America National Award recipients at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The individuals and groups from across the country were acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to local, state and federal public lands.... "These are extraordinary individuals and organizations who have tapped into the power of volunteerism to enhance our public lands and improve the experiences of visitors to those lands," Deputy Secretary Scarlett said.

The Student Conservation Association received the "Outstanding Take Pride Supporter" award. Congratulations, SCA!

Field Notes

Things are now humming along smoothly with Mount Rainier's volunteer program. Our long-term summer volunteers are comfortably trained and working wonders alongside their counterparts in green-and-grey; and our partnership with the Student Conservation Association is paying off with large numbers of public volunteers and volunteer hours. Many of the trails are being repaired, and the flood recovery map maintained by the Washington Trails Association has more and more blue markers on it every day.

In fact, we're hearing from visitors, more and more, that they don't see what the problem is, because so little of last winter's storm damage is still obvious to the casual eye. Our road crews patched up mileposts 5 and 9 to the point where you can't tell the road was undermined a few months ago. The Kautz Creek bridge looks a little odd with barely a trickle of water flowing under it, but the new 12-foot culverts a quarter mile to the east look like they've always handled the full flow of the river. Major damage remains on Highway 123, but a long stretch of the road remains closed entirely to public traffic while an estimated 1600 loads of rock are delivered by massive trucks to fill the gaping holes in the road. The West Side Road and Carbon River Road are also off limits to cars, and no one knows yet when that will change, if ever.

You can't hike up Highway 123 for safety reasons, but a short walk up the West Side Road, Carbon River Road, or any of a dozen trails in the park would remind any visitor of the serious damage that still remains. Trail crews and volunteers are hard at work rebuilding major sections of the Wonderland Trail below Cougar Rock, in Stevens Canyon, and both east and south from Carbon River. The Glacier Basin and East Side Trails remain heavily damaged despite more than a month of work.

Our calendar remains full of vital projects that need help from volunteers. The same thing is true at Olympic and North Cascades National Parks, Mount St. Helens, and on all of our local National Forests. It's important to keep the momentum going, so that as much repair can be done as possible before the next winter's storms move in, starting just a few short months from now.
And so, thank you to all of the great volunteers who have helped so far. (I've posted several dozen new pictures on our photo page of flood recovery volunteers in action--high quality, suitable for publication--so check them out!) A big thanks especially to those volunteers who keep coming back. Jean Millan, you're awesome--eight volunteer projects so far this summer, and counting! Mary Jane Wiley, you and your garden club are such an inspiration to our interpreters at the Jackson Visitor Center, who all want to grow up to be just like you and spend their retirement years roving the meadows at Paradise! Jack Leicester, I heard from someone yesterday who'd seen you on the trail at Sunrise, and was inspired by your dedication to give me a call and offer to volunteer. Flash Parlini, I know you're out there at Carbon River, helping visitors almost every week on the trails, in your quiet and unassuming way. John Titland, your Mount Rainier Associates group has been such a help to our trail crews this year, and Washington Trails Associates, the same goes for you too! And, of course, to our Student Conservation Association volunteers, including our dedicated Rainier Recovery Corps, you are truly amazing. You're breaking new ground, both literally and figuratively, for our volunteer program, and giving more and more people all the time a chance to have a great experience participating in making Mount Rainier a great National Park.
There are others too, of course, but if I listed everyone, it would be too long to read! I even saw a "Flat Stanley" here at Longmire today, and I'm sure I saw him pick up a rake and do a little trail maintenance as he hiked the Trail of the Shadows... Next time one shows up, I'm going to try to get a photograph for the blog. There's plenty of room for you out there, too, and we have lots of new projects on our calendar, including some family-oriented projects restoring the historic Longmire Campground, which we hope to turn into a great place for volunteers to camp while they're here serving in the park.

Plan now for the stories you'll be telling your grandkids: that you were here when it all happened!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rebuilding Rainier vol. 2.3

Volume 2.3 of our volunteer newsletter is something special. It features eleven stories by a cross-section of Mount Rainier's volunteers--from all four corners of the park; short-term volunteers and those that have been here for decades; Flood Recovery Corps members and volunteers; Rainier Ambassadors and WTA trail builders. The stories are touching and compelling. Reading them, I'm struck by two things: first, that our volunteers have wonderful stories to tell even after their first visit; and second, that the longer someone volunteers, the richer their experience becomes.

Click on the newsletter, and read some of our volunteers' stories--in their own words.

The Voice of a Volunteer

I have been visiting Mount Rainier since I moved to Washington in 1983 and have spent many enjoyable days hiking the wonderful trails throughout the park. I consider Mount Rainier like a second home. Then the floods came and the winds blew....

Read more by Rainier Recovery Volunteer Jean Millan on SCA's Rainier News Blog!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Field Notes

PowerPoint: Mount Rainier's Volunteer Program and Flood Recovery Corps(21.3 Mb--for best results, use right-click-save.)

New PowerPoint Presentation: Last night, Jill Baum (SCA's Mount Rainier Recovery Corps leader) and I were the featured speakers at Mount Rainier's Speaker Series in Cougar Rock Campground. I put together a nice summary of the roles volunteers play at Mount Rainier, especially in the wake of last November's floods, and the vital help we're receiving this summer from the Student Conservation Association. It has good information about our program, and more importantly, a lot of great pictures! Click the link above to download the presentation. It's large, so it'll probably work best if you right-click on the link and save the file to your own computer first.

New Projects: The July calendar is full of projects, and August is filling up rapidly as well! You'll find a summary list on our projects page, and a calendar with links to sign up online on SCA's Mount Rainier Recovery page. There are some exciting projects happening all over the park--now that most of the snow has melted, we're able to get into some areas with really stunning scenery!
Next Newsletter: Watch for our next volunteer newsletter early next week, hopefully Monday. Here's a preview from one of its contributers, George Coulbourn, a long-time volunteer at Carbon River:

"When I’m asked why I volunteer, I respond that I began for altruistic reasons. Having spent many rewarding days in the Park I felt that I had arrived at a good time for pay back. Doesn’t work. Like most volunteer activities, the volunteer gets more that he gives, and the harder he tries, the more he gets."

Statistics: It's too soon for general volunteer program statistics, but I can report that our SCA-led Mount Rainier Recovery Corps has, as of yesterday, worked with 325 public volunteers on 41 different projects so far this year! The summer's just getting started, so I'm confident that we'll set some major records with volunteer participation this year. Thank you all for your help!

Backcountry Bridge Building

This past week, we embarked on our first multi-day, backcountry trail work project. For five straight days last week there was a group of four corps member and one volunteer fixing up the Huckleberry creek trail on the north side of the park, returning after work each evening to their cozy base camp 2 miles away from any trailhead. Program Director Jill Baum and I went out to help them for a day and a half. It was my first experience backcountry camping.

Read more by SCA intern Susan Newman on SCA's Rainier News Blog!

Cool things are happening to trails at Mount Rainier

WTA volunteers have been busy at Mount Rainier this summer. So far, WTA volunteers have contributed over 30 days of work on trails around the Park, totaling 3,923 hours with the participation of over 200 individual volunteers. What exactly have all of these volunteers accomplished? Here's a glimpse...

Read more by Alyssa Kreider on the Seattle P-I's blog!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Setting Goals, Climbing Higher

I'll be attempting the summit of Washington's highest peak the last weekend in July with some climbing friends, and conditions on the mountain look good... I've been using this attempt of Rainier to raise money for damaged trails at Mount Rainier National Park and across Washington. There's still time to sponsor my challenge.

Read more by Andrew Engelson on WTA's blog, "The Signpost!"

New Bridge Will Provide Access to Hiking Trail

In a report he wrote last week, Mount Rainier National Park volunteer George Coulbourn expressed concern that he was seeing lots of hikers clad in tennis shoes. Coulbourn works in the Carbon River backcountry... "If you're going to put forth the effort to go hiking, do the right thing both for yourself and the environment: Wear a good pair of boots, and use hiking poles. You'll have more fun, and you'll look like you know what you're doing."

Read more by Jeffrey P. Mayor in the News Tribune!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pick up a pulaski

Volunteers have been stepping up to help repair trails damaged by storms. WTA has reached over 41,000 volunteer hours already, and we're on pace to break a new annual volunteer record. Thanks to all who got dirty to repair our trails!

Read more on WTA's blog, "The Signpost!"

Monday, July 9, 2007

Residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul volunteer most; Seattle ranks 5th

A report released today by the Corporation for National & Community Service and reported in the Seattle Times ranks Seattle 5th among the nation's 50 largest cities for volunteer participation, with an average of 36.3% of its residents volunteering each year over the past three years. Portland ranked 6th with 35.8%, compared to a national average of 28.1%.

In terms of number of hours volunteered, Seattle actually ranked 4th, with 53.5 hours per volunteer, and Portland 5th, with 51.0 hours. The national average is 36.5 hours per volunteer.

The full report, "Volunteering in America's Largest Cities," can be found on the NationalService.org website, along with a report released last December entitled "Volunteering at the State Level."

The reports say that volunteerism is at a 30-year high, with the rate among older teens (age 16-19) up especially dramatically to 28.4% in 2006, more than double the rate of 13.4% in 1989.

Washington is 4th in the nation for volunteer participation by young adults (age 16-24), at 34.4%, compared to a national average of 23.4%.

Washington state, as a whole, is 3rd in the nation for number of volunteer hours per year, with 54.5 hours per volunteer. Oregon is 6th, with 50.3.

Good job, Seattle, Portland, Washington, and Oregon! Your participation helps make our Northwest public lands great!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Volunteers Venture into the Backcountry

Mount Rainier Recovery Corps members recently completed the first of many 5-day, backcountry trail restoration projects planned this season. Living and working deep in the forest along the Huckleberry Creek Trail...

Read more by intern Susan Newman on SCA's Rainier News Blog!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Leaders of student group learn about park needs

There's a nice, short article in today's Tacoma News Tribune about our volunteer program and its partnership with SCA. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

A Junior Ranger joined four other volunteers and three Park Rangers in the Eatonville 4th of July Parade. Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Field Notes

New Links: The Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition now has a combined calendar posted at my.calendars.net/nw_storm. Here, you can find links to projects sponsored by any of the coalition members, all combined into one master list! You can also, of course, visit each of the coalition members directly, and contribute in whatever way works best for you. Click here for a summary of our Coalition partners and the roles they're playing in Mount Rainier's volunteer program, recovery efforts, and ongoing park protection efforts.

New Projects: There are a lot of exciting things coming up this month! Check out SCA's calendar for family projects, wilderness cleanup, 5-day backpacking trips, roads maintenance, and of course lots of trail maintenance and repair. WTA's calendar includes trail projects in all four corners of the park, too!

Statistics: The numbers are in (some of them) for the month of June! You--yes, you, 255 of you--have contributed 1,256.5 hours of volunteer service on 30 projects in cooperation with our Flood Recovery Corps since the park reopened this spring. That does not yet include all of you who worked on trail projects with WTA, nor those who worked as part of groups directly with NPS supervisors, nor those dedicated individuals who help staff our visitor centers, patrol our trails, and do all the other things volunteers do for us even in a "normal" year. It doesn't even include the volunteer time contributed by our Flood Recovery Corps itself. Considering that these are all early-season numbers from projects conducted while our staff was still being trained and oriented, when the final numbers are tallied, we're looking forward to reporting record-breaking volunteer participation at Mount Rainier this year!

The View from the Breakfast Table

The place we call home is a historic campsite. The campground is nestled in behind the Longmire Community Building - across the Nisqually River from the rest of Longmire - and unseen by most visitors...

Read more by Susan Newman on the Student Conservation Association's Rainier News Blog!