Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Annual Activity and Expense Report

Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Volunteers In Parks

Annual Activity and Expense Report
Mount Rainier National Park
Report Date: Nov 02, 2007
Fiscal Year: 2007

Volunteer Coordinator and Park Information

Total Volunteers: 1,724
Alpha Code: MORA
VIP Coordinator: Kevin Bacher
VIP Coordinator Phone: 360-569-2211
Coordinator Email: kevin_bacher@nps.gov

Volunteer hours by category:

Administration: 1,260.00
Campground Host: 2,136.00
Cultural Resource Management: 2,302.00
General Management: 0.00
Interpretation: 9,057.00
Maintenance: 45,786.00
Natural Resource Management: 8,902.00
Protection/Operations/Law Enforcement: 13,269.00
Training: 1,326.00

Program costs by category:

Housing: $ 84.00
Meals: $ 11,639.00
Recognition/Award: $ 706.00
Supplies: $ 14,235.00
Training: $ 1,097.00
Transportation: $ 7,030.00
Uniforms: $ 4,278.00

Updated 20 November 2007.

Volunteer Program Highlight

In early November, 2006, severe flooding damaged most of Mount Rainier's roads, trails, and campgrounds. Hundreds of people immediately contacted the park with offers of financial and volunteer support. To respond, the park formed a partnership with the Student Conservation Association to recruit, coordinate, and lead an army of volunteers, helping in all aspects of the park, especially trail construction. Partnerships with a coalition of other local non-profit organizations helped with publicity, recruitment, fundraising, and event planning. The result was an increase in our volunteer numbers of 90% over last year, including many individuals and groups who have already expressed interest in returning. Youth corps volunteers alone contributed 26,698 hours of work. Volunteer feedback and media coverage were extremely positive. By working with volunteers, we were able to significantly reduce our flood recovery costs, help preserve wilderness and cultural preservation values, and engage large numbers of people in our community in the ongoing stewardship of the park. Our flood recovery work and partnerships will continue in FY08. Mount Rainier NP has also invested in personnel and infrastructure, in addition to the program costs listed here, to ensure that we can continue building on this year's success into the future.


How many people at the park require VIP Program Mgmt Training: 15

Optional Information Regarding Housing VIPS and Campground Hosts

Number of Campground Hosts: 5
Number of VIPs housed in Permanent Structures: 35
Number of VIPs housed in Trailers: 6

Trailer Pads for Volunteers: 7

Other Information

Number of SCAs: 38
SCA Hours: 18051
Number of Artists in Parks: 0
Artist in Parks Hours: 0
Number of International VIPs: 24
International VIPS Hours: 1144
Number of Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps: 0
Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps Hours: 0

SCA Mount Rainier Recovery Corps 2007 Fact Sheet

Some stats for SCA's Mount Rainier Recovery Corps this summer:

Volunteer projects: 108
Volunteers: 701
Volunteer hours (project start to project end): 4243.5
Volunteer-leading hours (includes prep time): 3963.5
Additional corps hours (including training): 5136.5
Additional corps projects: 93
Total MRR hours: 13,343.5

Start date: 5/14/07
End date: 9/30/07
Corps Members: 11 (including Newman)
Project Leaders: 4
On-site Staff: 3 (PD, Coordinator, Cook)
Wall tents: 9
Park apartments: 2
Kitchen trailers: 1
Vehicles: 6

Snow Trails person days at Paradise: 34
Meadow Roving person days: 69
Frontcountry Campgrounds opened: 4 (Longmire, Cougar Rock, Ohana, White River)
Campsites cleared/maintained: 346
Backcountry campsites constructed: 4 (Nickel Creek)
Historic cabins deconstructed: 1 (Ipsut)
Sherpa projects: 3+
Archaeology testing: 2 locations/ 5 days
Road culverts cleared: 222
Roadside erosion control (woodstraw, mulch, etc.): 40,660 sq ft
Oxeye Daisy eradicated: 10,422
St. John’s Wort eradicated: 12,596
Bull Thistle eradicated: 139
Dump truck loads soil moved: 5
Seedlings planted: 2,000+
Trails brushed: 39,670 ft
Trails raked: 79,700 ft
Side Ditches cleared: 7808 ft
Drains cleared: 1242
Check Steps constructed: 27
Retaining Walls constructed: 9 @ 124 ft total
Stumps removed: 110
Reroute constructed: ~3600 ft

Monday, October 29, 2007

Inside the new Jackson Visitor Center

This has nothing at all to do with volunteers--not directly, anyway--but some of you may be interested to take a peak inside the new visitor center under construction at Paradise. Some of our staff got to look inside today. Here's what it looks like right now (click for a larger photo):

Friday, October 26, 2007

Three days in San Francisco

I just returned from three productive days in San Francisco. I've been invited to participate in a regional advisory committee for the National Park Service's volunteer program, along with volunteer managers from Olympic, North Cascades, Fort Vancouver, Nez Perce, Golden Gate, and Lake Mead. What a great group of people to share ideas with! There's so much creativity in the Park Service's volunteer program right now, and we're all learning from one another.

But, we weren't in San Francisco just for the brainstorming opportunities. We had some very real issues to resolve, including budget, training, strategic priorities, and the volunteer program's role in the National Park Service's "Centennial Initiative." Here are some highlights from our meeting:

The proposed FY2008 budget includes base funding increases to support 44 VIP program manager positions service-wide—12 of them in the Pacific West Region. A few parks will receive $96,000; most will receive $48,000. Parks may use the money in any way they feel best supports their program—by funding a new position, by increasing the stature of an existing position, or by a combination of strategies.

The Status of the FY08 budget is still uncertain, with Continuing Resolutions possible through next spring. New VIP positions cannot be implemented until the budget is passed, though parks are being encouraged to be ready to advertise positions as soon as this happens. Any funding for positions that aren’t filled will be expected to be used to support volunteer programs in other ways, or will “lapse” back to the regional or national volunteer program (not to the park).

Beginning in either FY08 or FY09, both regional and park budgets will be based primarily on volunteer numbers reported by the parks. We will be initiating discussion about achieving greater consistency among parks in the ways volunteer hours are tracked—and in which hours are considered to be “volunteer” hours.

Basic volunteer program training will be offered at Golden Gate in March, which will include a “train the trainers” element for members of the VIP Advisory Committee. Similar training has been proposed for Mount Rainier in the spring, possibly May. Advanced volunteer program training will be offered next fall, possibly at Fort Vancouver in November in association with the National Interpreter’s Workshop in Portland. Basic orientation to the NPS volunteer program will be added to (or expanded in) NPS Fundamentals and other leadership classes.

Issues and Expectations
At a meeting with Regional Director Jon Jarvis, he said that “the key to the Centennial Initiative is early and visible success.” The expectation is that the increased funding we expect in the FY08 budget will lead to visible increases in staff and services, and increased volunteer opportunities and participation. “Rebuilding the NPS” (through the Centennial Initiative), he said, “will require redefining our role as a Service—more toward facilitating work by partners and cooperators, and serving, ourselves, in roles as leaders, coordinators, facilitators, and evaluators.” We are encouraged to “think outside the box,” including developing new partnerships; exploring new technologies; pursuing new recruitment options; and coordinating strategies at the Network level (i.e. in cooperation with Olympic, North Cascades, and other Columbia Cascade parks).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

67,000 hours later...

From the blog of the Northwest Interpretive Association:

The Mount Rainier Recovery Corps, led by the Student Conservation Association, has just wrapped up an incredible year of volunteerism on behalf of our beloved mountain...

A new WTA record for volunteer hours!

From the Washington Trails Association blog, The Signpost:

...As of today, WTA has hosted 742 work parties in 2007, providing a whopping 76,856 hours of volunteer service on trails! 1,850 volunteers spent at least a day with us helping trails this year. We've already surpassed our volunteer record and it's only October!

Friday, October 12, 2007

National Public Lands Day Report

After a tremendously successful summer, the first season of the Mount Rainier Recovery program came to a triumphant close recently with a final, festive day of hands-on service and celebration.

Over 150 enthusiastic individuals of all ages showed up on this chilly autumn day to honor the park and National Public Lands Day and do one more favor for the mountain. Most of the volunteers were people who had served the park this summer and were returning to connect with others who had been part of this marvelous effort. The feeling of camaraderie was evident in smiling faces and cheerful conversation as we worked on projects of re-routing a washed-out trail, clearing debris from a flooded campground, and planting willows in flood-damaged areas.

Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga spent the day smiling broadly and thanking volunteers. After a celebratory barbeque dinner, he addressed the group, expressing deep gratitude for everything the attendees and others have done to help the park this season. The numbers are still being tallied, but at least 1,600 volunteers have come to the park’s aid this year, contributing an unprecedented 67,000 hours of service. Over half the trail work completed in the park this summer was done by volunteers. The monetary value of this service donated to the park exceeds 1.3 million dollars.

SCA is honored to have been a leader in the Mount Rainier Recovery effort this year, and we’re already working to build on this momentum for even greater accomplishments at Mount Rainier in the coming year. We would like to extend our most sincere appreciation to all of you who have contributed your time, energy, or savings to SCA and the Mount Rainier Recovery program.

We’d like to leave you with a few of our favorite memories from the summer. Here's a link to several videos highlighting the experiences of some SCA members who made this summer such a success.

Jill Baum
Program Director
SCA Mount Rainier Recovery

Congressman Recognizes Volunteers at National Public Lands Day

Congressman Dicks with the Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition. From left to right: Sean Smith (NPCA), Shane Farnor (NPCA), Gina Ottoboni (The Mountaineers), David Graves (NPCA), Congressman Norm Dicks, Lauren Braden (Washington Trails Association), Eleanor Kittelson (Washington's National Park Fund), Dave Uberguaga (superintendent), Jay Satz (SCA), and Kevin Bacher (volunteer program manager). NPS photo.
National Public Lands Day had a little more meaning than usual this year at Mount Rainier, as the park continues to recover from the devastating flooding that occurred in November 2006, when 18 inches of rain fell in 36 hours and closed the park for six months.
Recovery efforts at Mount Rainier have made tremendous headway thanks to the help of over 1,500 volunteers in 2007 (a park record) and the assistance of Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition partners.
Congressman Norm Dicks (WA), who serves as chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, visited the park on Saturday, September 29th, for the third time since the flood, thanking volunteers, energizing staff, and crediting the volunteers and park service for the tremendous work that have occurred in the park’s flood recovery efforts.
Volunteers have made a huge contribution to Mount Rainier’s recovery by contributing 70,000 hours to the park this year, at a value of over $1.3 million. Congressman Dicks applauded volunteer activities at the park as a way to encourage young people to get outdoors and into parks and wilderness areas.For more information, please visit www.nps.gov/mora or contact Alison Bullock, public information officer, Mount Rainier National Park, at 360-569-2211 x2336.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A neighborhood Park in Vancouver gets a facelift!

From the "trail talk" section of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"...noteworthy in itself, this was the largest trail crew work party WTA has ever held. Pretty cool! Previous record, 90 REI folks at Mount Rainier."

Congratulations to WTA for breaking the record they set on June 30th at Cougar Rock!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

If Mount Rainier could, it would give hugs, too

From the full story in The News Tribune, October 4, 2007:

Uberuaga and each of the staffers I’ve talked to in recent weeks appreciate every shovel of dirt turned, every stone lifted, every tree limb moved and every sapling replanted. In thanking the more than 100 people gathered in the gym, Uberuaga said the volunteer effort – now topping 69,000 hours – was the equivalent of hiring 83 workers for every day of the summer season.

Volunteer labor worth $1 million-plus helps rebuild Mount Rainier trails

From the full story in The Seattle Times, October 4, 2007:

The cumulative volunteer turnout — expected to total more than 1,700 people when final numbers are tabulated — will not quite match the scale of the endless procession of headlights drawn to Ray Kinsella's Iowa farm in the closing frames of the movie "Field of Dreams." Yet Kevin Bacher, manager of the volunteer program at Mount Rainier since 2002, thinks a similar, mystical magnetism pulled people into the park when news of its storm-ravaged condition became known.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

National Public Lands Day

It's pouring down rain outside my office window at Longmire. In fact, it's been doing so, for the most part, since Saturday evening, just hours after our National Public Lands Day volunteers came in off the trail. What good fortune!

National Public Lands Day was exhilerating. In all, we logged 115 volunteers, who contributed 529 hours of time on 10 projects. Volunteers worked on restoring the Longmire Campground and cleaning up Sunshine Point; planing willows at Milepost 9 and rehabilitating construction areas at Kautz Creek; repairing the Wonderland, Pinnacle Peak, High Lakes, and (on Forest Service land) the Tatoosh Lakes Trails; carrying a new backcountry toilet in to Pyramid Creek; and cleaning up campsites along Skate Creek Road. Congressman Norm Dicks kicked off the event at Longmire, and representatives from Mount Rainier National Park and the Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition wrapped it up at the end of the day with a barbecue, door prizes, and slide show.

And then the rain began!

Things are much quieter now; while some volunteer projects will continue through the winter, most will now wait till next spring, especially since the higher elevations of our park are now getting buried by snow. Now we rest from our summer labors, and finalize our budgets, and compile the statistics that document our accomplishments, and plan for next year.

Meanwhile, if you weren't able to come to our end-of-season celebration, you can celebrate vicariously by downloading your own copy of our "volunteer scrapbook," the PowerPoint presentation I shared on Saturday evening. You just might find your own picture included! If not, make a note on your calendar to come join us again next year--and keep watching this site for volunteer program updates.

We've moved!

Mount Rainier’s volunteer program blog will now be here, at rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com. I’ve been reluctant to make the move, believing strongly that a National Park Service website should stay on the National Park Service server. Unfortunately, the tools for maintaining an effective blog just aren’t available on our server. The new site will provide options for comments and feedback, better search capabilities, improved cross-linking with other blog sites, automatic archiving (something I currently have to do manually), and easier access to archived posts. It will also be much quicker, easier, and reliable for me to use—and as busy as I am during “high season,” that can make the difference between having time to update you all on program news, and not having time to do so.

I will gradually copy the summer’s blog postings to this new site, and will leave them archived on the old site as well. You’ll also continue to find all of the other features of our volunteer program at the NPS address, www.nps.gov/mora/supportyourpark/volunteer.htm, including job listings and general information. Photos are still there too, though now that I’ve made the switch to Google’s blogspot, its photo management cousin, Picasa, looks tempting as well. We’ll see.

What do you think? This new website is interactive. Leave a comment and let me know!

Public Lands Day: A Flood of Help!

From the NW Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition blog:

This last Saturday, the NW Storm Recovery Coalition hosted a very successful National Public Lands Day event at Mount Rainier National Park.

In total, 115 volunteers contributed a total of 529 hours. Teams of volunteers worked on ten service projects that included trail repair, campground restoration/clean up and other projects throughout the park. The day started with a speech and send off by Representative Norm Dicks. Representative Dicks has been a strong supporter of park storm recovery making several trips to the park over the past year.

That evening a celebratory gathering included an informal dinner and presentations at Columbia Crest Elementary School near Ashford. Phil Freeman, owner of Copper Creek Restaurant and Resort in Ashford, presented proceeds from the Music for the Mountain fundraiser held this past spring totaling over $5,000 to Mount Rainier National Park (via Washington’s National Park Fund), the Nisqually Land Trust, and Friends of the Upper Nisqually.

The NW Storm Recovery Coalition wishes to extend its thanks again everyone who helped out this past summer.

Park Honors Volunteers

From the full story in the Eatonville Dispatch, October 2, 2007:

Over 1,500 people gave their time and sweat to repairs, amounting to over 67,800 hours valued at over $1,290,600 in savings to the park. Ninety volunteers did additional work Saturday before the lunch and program held at Columbia Crest Elementary School.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

America the Wild

Hey, check out this radio interview by Sean Smith, of the National Parks Conservation Association, that aired on a nationwide talk show called "America the Wild!" Choose Segment 2 from Show #104 on September 29.

Mount Rainier Recovery

From the website of the Student Conservation Association:

The first season of the Mount Rainier Recovery program came to a triumphant close last Saturday with a final, festive day of hands-on service and celebration. Some 150 enthusiastic individuals showed up on this chilly northwest autumn day to honor the park on National Public Lands Day by donning their warm layers and setting out to do one more favor for the mountain. Find pictures and stories soon on the park's volunteer blog page!

After a celebratory barbeque dinner, Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga addressed the group, expressing deep gratitude for everything that the attendees and hundreds of other citizens have done to help the park this season. Here are some of the impressive numbers:

• Volunteers: at least 1,600
• Hours of service: over 67,000
• Estimated value of volunteer work: exceeding $1.3 million
• Portion of trailwork completed by volunteers: over half
• Campsites cleared/maintained: 335
• Days of Meadow Protection duty: 69
• Road culverts cleared: 222
• Roadside erosion control areas: 10,800 sq ft+
• Trail brushed: 31,970 ft+
• Trail raked: 59,560 ft+
• Check steps constructed: 27+
• Trail reroute constructed: ~3600 ft

SCA is proud and honored to have been a leader in the Mount Rainier Recovery effort this year, and we are already working to build on this momentum toward even greater accomplishments at Mount Rainier in the coming year. We would like to extend our most sincere appreciation to all of you have contributed your time, energy, or savings to SCA and the Mount Rainier Recovery program. See you next year!

In our view: Clearing the Trails

Complete story at The Columbian, October 2, 2007:

There is some heartwarming news in the wake of all the destruction. Some 1,500 volunteers from all over the world contributed a total of some 67,000 hours of their time to rebuilding trails, bridges and campsites in Mount Rainier National Park... The 93-mile Wonderland Trail that encircles the Northwest's signature peak is among the routes now open, thanks to their work.