Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Field Notes

When I was given the opportunity to serve full time as Mount Rainier’s volunteer program manager, rather than just part-time, I thought, great! Now I won't be so insanely busy during the summer! What wishful thinking!

This year I've been busier than ever—but for all the right reasons. The volunteer program is running smoothly, and if anything, the number of people signing up for volunteer projects has gone up a bit. (For complete details, download SCA's Progress Report in pdf format.) Thank you to all of you who are helping out! There is still lots of work to get done before the end of the year. Check out our calendar of public projects, or download this flyer; or, give Project Manager Jill Baum at call at 360-569-2211 ext. 3414 if you have a group that would like to contribute.

I spent Monday afternoon hiking from Longmire to Kautz Creek on the Wonderland Trail with Mike Lanza of Backpacker Magazine, who is researching a story on the park's flood damage and our efforts to rebuild with the help of volunteers. He was definitely impressed by the outpouring of support we've received, and I'm sure that sentiment will be featured prominently in his article. I hadn't been out to Kautz Creek since the flood, and I was amazed all over again by the extent of the trail damage there, and how raw it still looks. That's one of the many places that are now "passable" but still need a lot of work to bring back to the trail standards we were used to before the storm. This sentiment is echoed on the Washington Trails Association’s Storm Damage Map, which still shows an awful lot of red and yellow "damage" markers in comparison to the blue "repair" symbols.

Volunteer patrol ranger George Coulbourn ran into a high school trail crew at Carbon River last Saturday. He reports, "Kudos to the Carbon SCA team. These High School incoming and outgoing seniors worked hard, and left our trail in as good shape as I've ever seen. I met with them numerous times and complimented them on their work frequently. Yesterday, I made a point of thanking each one individually and telling them how proud they should be of what they had done this summer." I've heard similar comments about every one of the volunteer crews we've had out this year.

In other news, planning continues for next year's volunteer program, and we have lots of exciting ideas about how to make the banner success of this year's effort even better. We welcome your ideas, too, so if you have a brainstorm in the shower, please share it with me! Next month, the local community of Ashford is celebrating its sixth annual Rainier Mountain Festival, which will involve several days of fun activities and special guests, as well as a volunteer project in the park and a raffle to raise funds for trail restoration. Plans are also developing for National Public Lands Day, coming up on September 29, which will be a day of volunteer activities followed by a celebration of the role volunteers have played this summer at Mount Rainier. Mark your calendars and watch this space for further details. I hope to get another newsletter out next week, with more stories and photos, and to post more pictures of volunteers in action on our photo page.

Finally, a great big thank you has to go to Susan Newman of SCA, who has helped out tremendously this summer by photodocumenting the Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative and is now returning to college at Cornell University, and to Marilyn Darling, who always seems to show up, like a super hero, when my need is most dire and my paperwork and correspondence have gotten most out of hand!

Check out the news clippings that follow, as well. There's been a lot going on, and a lot of really fine people are helping to make it happen.

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