Friday, March 28, 2008

State’s badly damaged national parks, forests need more help from volunteers

From today's News Tribune, a great summary of the flood damage that still remains in Washington's National Parks and Forests:

Why do our public lands need help? I can give you $65.9 million worth of reasons. That’s the current storm damage estimate for Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades national parks, plus Gifford Pinchot, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic national forests. Simply put, windstorms and rainstorms have battered public lands around the Puget Sound in the past two years. Consider these examples:
Check out the News Tribune's website for the full article. If you'd like to help out, here are links to the websites of the volunteer programs mentioned in the article:

Mount Rainier National Park
Olympic National Park
North Cascades National Park
Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Olympic National Forest
Washington Trails Association

Every one of us still needs help cleaning up flood damage, including Mount Rainier. Consider planning a statewide tour of volunteer projects... See the Northwest! Volunteer in our National Parks and Forests!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Volunteer program does well in park's budget planning process

This week, I've been finalizing the broad outlines of our volunteer program budget for the coming year. Like last year, our program is much bigger and more complex than it was two years ago! We now have a major partnership with SCA to manage, several grant applications pending, support from the Park Service's Centennial Initiative, and a big chunk of the flood recovery funding left over from last year's special appropriation in response to the November 2006 flood. Since my volunteer program manager position has become full-time, I've also taken on the responsibility of coordinating our Youth Conservation Corps program, and will probably end up playing a major role in the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks program too.

All of these elements have fared well in terms of funding. I'm sure the most important reason for this is that we demonstrated, last year, in no uncertain terms, what a good return on the investment we could provide. If you total up every piece of our volunteer operation, including staff salaries, equipment, and investments in infrastructure, we spent about $400,000 last year parkwide on expenses related to volunteers. In return, we received the equivalent of $1.6 million of service.

So, when SCA made their plans for this year, continuing our flood recovery partnership was an easy decision to approve. We are competing well for several grants, including NPS Special Project Funding and Youth Partnership Program funding, and with SCA's help recently won a $93,550 award from Boeing Corporation. Mount Rainier was selected as one of a few parks nationwide to receive a $48,000 base funding increasing to help pay for a full-time volunteer program manager position, rather than the 30% collateral duty we've had up to now. (I'm currently doing the job full-time, but under a temporary assignment.)

The park still has about $11.5 million left in our flood recovery account--a lot of money, but there's still a lot of work left to do. Like last year, we'll need to spend the money as efficiently and responsibly as possible. Every proposal for how that money would be spent was reviewed carefully, including our volunteer program. In the end, a few projects were cut, some were delayed, others were modified. But the volunteer program survived intact. We've set a good precedent, and I look forward to continuing to demonstrate the value of our volunteer partnerships in caring for Mount Rainier National Park.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Volunteers help with Northern Spotted Owl demographic monitoring

In my "in box" today is our division of natural resources' 2007 progress report on monitoring Northern Spotted Owls and their habitat within Mount Rainier National Park. The report is mostly methods and data, but it's the result of a lot of work by a lot of people. Like most things at Mount Rainier, those efforts include volunteers, especially since "demographic monitoring is labor intensive and often quite costly." A total of 166 visits were made to 31 monitoring sites in 2007.

Mount Rainier is one of the largest relatively undisturbed areas of Spotted Owl habitat in the western Washington Cascades. Declines in Spotted Owl populations have been documented throughout the region. Research here at Rainier and elsewhere suggests that factors in addition to habitat loss may be responsible, including possibly increased numbers of Barred Owls, climate change, and avian viruses. In addition, collisions with vehicles seem to be surprisingly common, with eight documented owl fatalities in or near the park over the past ten years, half of those Spotted Owls.

Last year's owl crew included Alyssa Herr and Emily Slayton, both of whom started surveying owls as volunteers a few years ago and then were picked up as paid rangers in 2007. Russel Gibbs has been helping with wildlife surveys of all kinds for years--Spotted Owls, Harlequin Ducks, etc.

By the way, if this sounds interesting to any of our readers, we're working on some new volunteer projects this summer surveying amphibians in backcountry locations. It would involve several days of work spread out over the summer. Watch this space or our job listings for an announcement, probably in June. (You can also e-mail me to get on our volunteer program mailing list.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Congratulations, Pierce County volunteers!

This past Saturday, Pierce County recognized 93 individuals and 7 groups for outstanding volunteer service. According to Pierce County's website, they are part of 4,000 individuals who volunteer for the county. Award winners include Debbie Lowe, who helped form the Anderson Island Citizens Advisory Board; Sheriff's Cadet Lt. Kevin Pressel, who developed policies and procedures for the cadet program and helped lead the "McGruff the Crime Dog" program; Walt Bosch, who coordinates the Master Gardeners program; the WSU Pierce County 4-H Teen Ambassadors, who have helped with storm damage cleanup and providing care kits for children of deployed servicemen and women; Bob Cole, who has ridden in the Sheriff's Posse for 36 years; and Renee Paine, who has been a Master Gardener for 25 years.

In our own neighborhood, the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition was honored for its work to develop trails between Puyallup/Sumner and South Prairie. The group is currently working on developing a system of trails and greenways from Puget Sound to Mount Rainier. Some of our own Mount Rainier volunteers also volunteer with the Rails-to-Trails Coalition.

Congratulations to all of the Pierce County volunteers for contributing in a positive way to our community!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mount Rainier in the news

Lots of things in the news and blogs lately that have a volunteer element:

The Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition blog has a good summary of our event at REI on Monday, "Taking the Parks by Storm." While fewer people showed up than we'd have liked, those who attended were attentive and engaged and asked some really good questions after presentations by representatives of three national parks, two national forests, two Congressional districts, and a state senator. The discussion ranged from the status of storm damage and repairs, to the role of global climate change, to how people can help as volunteers, to the implications for future policy decisions. Reporters from Q13 Fox News and TVW, Washington State's Public Affairs Network, were at the event, and in fact TVW will air it in its entirety tonight at 7:00 p.m. Pictures from the evening, by photographer DJ Bradley, can be found here. The irrepressible Jeff Mayor from The News Tribune was there, too.

Thanks to Sean Smith at NPCA for directing my attention to a great piece in the December issue of Outside Magazine, naming Mount Rainier's flood recovery efforts, including your work as volunteers, as one of the top 100 good ideas of 2007.

Over at the Washington Trails Association's blog, there's a good summary of storm recovery efforts throughout the region, including ways that you can help. WTA played a very positive role in lobbying for federal support of flood recovery efforts at Rainier and elsewhere last year. They also now have a presence on Facebook--a fascinating idea intended to reach out to young audiences. Maybe we should try it with our volunteer program too, what do you think?

Another SAR

For those of you who have been following the news, we're just wrapping up another "Search and Rescue" operation here in the park. Unfortunately, this one didn't come out well, as the body of Devin Ossman was found late this morning by NPS searchers. Like so many of our searches, this one involved help from two volunteer-based dog team organizations, German Shepherd Search Dogs of Washington State and Northwest Bloodhounds Search and Rescue. We are infinitely grateful for their help.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mount Rainier's volunteer program nominated for a George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Mount Rainier's volunteer program--that means you, folks!--was nominated today for a George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award is named after a former NPS Director, who established the Volunteers-in-Parks program back in the 70s and promoted volunteerism in the parks throughout his career.

Every year, the National Park Service presents three such awards: one to an individual; one to a group; and one to a volunteer program. Past awards have recognized individuals, groups, and programs throughout the Service. Winners in our region have included Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Crater Lake Ski Patrol. Mount Rainier has submitted several strong nominations over the years, including Clay and Dixie Gatchel (who did not win the Hartzog Award, but went on to win the national Take Pride in America Award for their years of service); Clyde and Lois Ambacher; and the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association.

Mount Rainier, of course, has always had a strong volunteer program. But this past year, we outdid ourselves (by which I mean, you outdid yourselves). The flood response last year raised our program from the level of "strong" to one of the best in the nation. That's my own opinion, of course. Now we'll see what a national committee of nomination reviewers thinks!

Some exerpts from our nomination:

"The public response and the successful flood recovery volunteer program is one of my career highlights. We truly engaged our public and through a very positive program, created thousands of new citizen stewards." - Superintendent Dave Uberuaga

"These partnerships [with SCA and the NW Storm Recovery Coalition] will continue, and with their help, and the help of existing park volunteers, the lasting legacy of the 2006 flood will not be devastated roads and trails, but a renaissance of public partnership in support of park stewardship." - Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher

"Not only does senior management at Mount Rainier recognize volunteers as the true resource they are, but they recognize an even more important element to the equation. The foundation of Mount Rainier’s VIP program is not to just get work done that might not other wise be possible, it is also very deliberatively engaging the public to take ownership of their park."

"I am often asked by people why I choose to volunteer. One simply needs to experience ths subalpine meadows in the summer and see the grandeur of the environment; the explosion of color, the richness of the smells, hear the marmots whistling your approach, watch the variety of birds above and below you, hear the distant rumble of the glaciers as they groan, see the lines of climbers that seem like insignificant 'spots' on the snow heading toward Camp Muir and simply see the slopes of Mount Rainier towering above and you find the answer. As one experiences the treasure of Mount Rainier, you understand the need to protect and conserve this resource for the future and it is truly an honor as a volunteer to be able to participate in a small way in this effort." - Meadow Rover volunteer John Walsh

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Parks assess damage after winter storms

This on HeraldNet today, about ongoing flood recovery efforts, including contributions by volunteers, at both Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks:

"Winter storms have battered the Pacific Northwest's national parks each of the past two years, with damages in the millions of dollars. After last year's massive repairs to Mount Rainier National Park, the latest victim is Olympic National Park, where craggy alpine peaks, forested lowlands and miles of Pacific coast offer visitors the trifecta of a wilderness experience.

"Volunteer crews are making the park the focus of their efforts this year -- though workers at Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks also are furiously repairing fractures to roads and trails left from winter storms. It all means that visitors to the region's parks once again will have to sidestep some storm damage when planning summer vacations."

Update: See also "Washington's national parks scrambling to repair storm-damaged trails, roads for vacationers" in the March 18 Seattle Times.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Surveying volunteers

I just sent a survey to almost 1,000 people--all of those individuals who volunteered over the past year for whom I have e-mail addresses. It's a short survey, 30 questions, which should take about 15 minutes to respond to, but which will provide us with invaluable feedback about what we're doing well, what we can improve on, and how best to get from here to there.

We sent out a test survey a few weeks ago to about 20 people, and the responses we got back were very insightful. We can already see some common themes in the responses that indicate where we should be putting our energies. (I'd tell you what they are, but don't want to put ideas into your head before you take the survey!) If you receive a survey, I encourage you to take the time to respond to it. It will help us to set priorities for the coming year. If you do not receive a survey, but volunteered this past year, please contact me and I'll send you the link so you can contribute, too. We're accepting responses through April 6.

Once the responses are in, we'll tabulate the results and post the highlights here. It should be very interesting.

One final thing: Special thanks to Deanne Adams, our Pacific West Regional Chief of Interpretation and Education, who invested a lot of time helping us to put the survey together and get it posted.

Details on the FY2008 NPS budget

I just received an e-mail through regular NPS channels with details (finally) on this year's National Park Service budget. Since many of you following this blog find such topics of interest, here's a few exerpts, especially the sections of relevance to our volunteer program.

"In December 2007, Congress passed the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Act contained many changes to the Administrations’ Request for FY 2008 and to the House and Senate Committee mark-ups. The Washington Budget Office devoted much time and effort in reviewing the massive bill and report language to assess the precise impacts on the FY 2008 budget. On February 4, 2008, PWR Budget and Financial Management provided the Park and Program Summary for our parks to initiate the planning and programming of the anticipated FY 2008 ONPS allocation.... An [abridged] explanation of changes is as follows:

"Seasonal Employees
The full amount of $40.6 million was provided in the FY 2008 budget for the 3,000 Centennial seasonal employees. It is important for each park to keep its commitment to hire the additional number of seasonal employees identified in the President’s Budget. The seasonal program will be closely monitored to document success....

"Volunteers-in-Park Coordinators
$3.4 million was provided to selected parks [including Mount Rainier] to hire VIP Coordinators that are dedicated to the VIP program. As part of the Centennial Initiative, it is imperative that the 12 PWR parks receiving VIP funds for full-time or part-time coordinators demonstrate an improvement in the management of their volunteer programs and a commensurate increase in the number of volunteers and associated volunteer hours. This will contribute to the centennial goal of doubling the number of volunteer hours to 10.4 million hours by 2016. The coordinators must be hired in FY 2008 as specified in the FY 2008 Green Book. The 12 parks in our region will be asked to prepare a special performance report at the end of FY 2008 for submission to the WASO Interpretation and Education Division....

"Youth Conservation Corps (YCC)
For many years, the Appropriations Act language has directed the National Park Service to commit not less than $2 million from within available ONPS Park Management allocations for high priority projects to be carried out by the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC).... However, in the FY 2008 Appropriations Act, the directed amount to commit to YCC projects has increased to $3 million."

Mount Rainier joins Junior Ranger Ambassadors program

We just got word today that Mount Rainier has been selected to participate in the National Park Service/SCA "Junior Ranger Ambassadors" program. Our Interpretive Operations Manager/Outreach Coordinator, Sandi Kinzer, applied to this program last month, and we are very pleased to be participating. Beginning this summer of 2008, SCA will send us an intern to help us design, deliver, and promote Junior Ranger programming. The intern’s primary responsibilities will be to draft new Junior Ranger materials, assist in community outreach, and help with volunteer and event coordination for Junior Ranger programming.

SCA has already begun recruiting for this position.

Sean Smith on KPTK

Just learned about this:

Sean Smith, NW Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association, spoke on KPTK radio on Sunday, March 9. Among other topics, he spoke about the efforts of volunteers in repairing flood damage at Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks.

To hear the whole conversation, go to KPTK's website and look for the Community Matters link for March 9.

Music on the Mountain - April 4-6, Mineral, Washington

April 4-6 will be the second annual "Music on the Mountain" benefit concert. From the blog "Rockin' the Blues from Canada":

"The 2nd annual Mt. Rainier Music Festival, a 3 day indoor benefit concert for Mt. Rainier National Park, will take place April 4th, 5th and 6th, 2008, at the Mineral Lake Event Center in beautiful Mineral, WA. This 3 day event will feature 25 bands with over 100 musicians on 2 indoor stages, along with some of the top NW food vendors, wineries, breweries and artist booths on hand. There will be silent auctions and raffle items all weekend long, with all proceeds going to Mt. Rainier National Park....

"We are still seeking donated raffle items and auction items of any kind to help raise funds for Mt. Rainier national park. Volunteers are still needed and will receive free admission to the event on the day of volunteering...."
For more details, including a list of featured artists, other events, and details on how you can help, read the full blog entry or visit the website of the Mount Rainier Visitor Association.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A sunny winter day on Mount Rainier is Paradise on ice

Here's a great article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, written by Rebecca Agiewich, who volunteers at our Climber Information Center during the summer:

"With a little education and a lot of common sense, your winter outings at the park probably will be some of the most memorable of your life. From Paradise, not only do you get monstrous close-ups of Rainier, you also can drink in the jagged, snow-covered spine of the Tatoosh Range to the south (those pointy peaks and broad saddles are also part of the park). Climb just a little higher and you can survey a veritable who's who of Northwest volcanoes, including mounts Hood, Adams and St. Helens...."

You're Invited: Taking the Parks by Storm!

Community Support for Restoring Washington's Treasures

A series of storms battered the Pacific Northwest during the fall and winter of 2006 and 2007, bringing major flooding, hurricane-force winds and heavy snows. Washington’s national parks - Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades - were severely impacted.

The Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition is sponsoring "Taking the Parks by Storm: Community Support for Restoring Washington's Treasures" on Monday, March 17, 2008, to bring members of Congress and representatives from the three parks together to describe the storms' impacts, the current state of repairs at the parks, and how upcoming visits to the park may be affected. Also, this event will provide attendees an opportunity to ask questions, visit with representatives from each park to learn about volunteer activities, and to find out how they can be further involved.

Monday, March 17th, 6:30PM-8:30 PM

Seattle REI Flagship
222 Yale Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

The Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition, which includes the National Parks Conservation Association, the Student Conservation Association, Washington’s National Park Fund, and Washington Trails Association, works to help support, repair, and restore affected parks and other public lands.

For more information, contact: David Graves at or (206) 903-1444, x25.

Volunteer Opportunity: Pacific Crest Trail at Dewey Lakes

Here's one of the first concrete volunteer opportunities for the Mount Rainier vicinity to be advertised for the summer--in this case, by the Washington Trails Association. Visit their website for more details and to sign up:

July 19-26: Just south of Mount Rainier, on the Pacific Crest Trail. The Forest Service was so impressed with the bridge that we built here last summer that they have something else for us to build. Dewey Lakes make a perfect campsite for a weeklong vacation. Lots of places to roam, although beware of the elk that may want to join you. The project is puncheon building(elevated wooden walkway) and trail restoration. Novice carpenters and neophyte trail workers are encouraged. SPACES REMAINING:8 (as of 3/12/08)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

National Park Storm Damage: Get your voice heard

From the Washington Trails Association's "Signposts" blog:

"As I make my rounds in Olympia and Washington DC on behalf of our members, I'm frequently asked about the state of our National Parks and Forests in the wake of the 2006 and 2007 storms. It's difficult to convey what happened on those parks in a few words, but I always try to pass on the fact that Mount Rainier, in particular, has benefited from a groundswell of public support in the form of advocacy, coordination and sweat equity. On Monday evening, March 17, you'll have the opportunity to learn more about what happened, what's been done and how to help more. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to make your voice heard by some of the people who have the power to preserve our parks and forests for the long term. I urge you to take advantage of that opportunity...."

Mount Rainier Storm Recovery effort honored

Here's a short article about our Cooperative Conservation Award in The News Tribune. (Update: Here's a more complete article.)

Also, in my e-mail in-box today, this note from Chris Jarvi, NPS Associate Director of Partnerships and Visitor Experience:

"I want to congratulate you once again for a job very well done. I know that an award of this importance is given only when there is a strong team effort on the part of everyone involved with the volunteer program. Therefore, the success and the accolades are deservedly shared by everyone with a part in making the program a success. You and your team make us all very proud because of this national recognition.

"I hope to see you at the awards ceremony in Washington DC on April 21st. Again, my sincere congratulations on a job well done."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Status of volunteer positions for 2008

I've been getting quite a few inquiries about volunteer opportunities for this summer, so here's a quick summary of where we stand and how to find further information.

SCA Internships: If you're looking for full-time volunteer positions, we have several currently advertised through the Student Conservation Association. You'll find a complete listing of these positions (usually 12 weeks in length) on SCA's website.

Full-time and Long-term Assignments: We also have several other long-term positions that are not being advertised through SCA. Some of these positions are full-time--Campground Hosts, for instance, or Curatorial Assistants. Others are "long-term" in the sense that we're looking for someone who can return repeatedly, but who wouldn't live full-time on-site here in the park. Our Meadow Rovers are a good example of these positions. You'll find these posted on our NPS website, and you can apply directly online.

Coming Soon: If you don't see a position that interests you, keep an eye on both of the aforementioned websites, because other positions will get posted as we continue planning for our summer programs. We're considering some very exciting new opportunities, including amphibian surveys, soundscape monitoring, and historic structure restoration.

General Volunteer Opportunities: In addition, you can apply for a "general volunteer opportunity," or send me an e-mail, if you'd like to be considered for potential future positions. Note, however, that only a very small percentage of people who apply in this way end up getting hired as volunteers. You're much more likely to end up with a good volunteer assignment if you apply directly to something we're recruiting for.

Our Mailing List: You can also just send me an e-mail and ask to be put on our volunteer program mailing list, to be notified when new opportunities become available.

Blog Notices: Keep an eye on this website, too. I try to post notices about new volunteer positions here when they become available.

The Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative: One of our most successful programs last year was through our partnership with the Student Conservation Association. We will again offer many such opportunities this year, from trail reconstruction and meadow repair to wilderness cleanup and historic campground restoration. Like last year, these opportunities will be posted on SCA's Mount Rainier Recovery calendar. We'll start posting new projects by early May. (Most places in the park aren't snow-free until June or even July!) These projects will last anywhere from one day to a full week. Some will suitable for families while others won't, so read the job descriptions carefully.

Group projects: If you're part of an organized group and would like to come volunteer together, contact us and we'll try to connect you up with a good project! We already have numerous groups on our calendar for this summer. Jill Baum (360-569-2211 ext. 3414) is usually our Project Manager for such events, but she's out on vacation for most of the month of March (in New Zealand, the lucky bum!), so in the meantime, give me a call at extension 3385 or drop me an e-mail.

Washington Trails Association: Like last year, you'll also have lots of opportunities this year to do trail work through WTA, who has assigned a full-time trails manager to organize projects in the park. Check out their website for a full list of opportunities, which are generally posted about six weeks out and fill up rapidly.

Other partners: The National Parks Conservation Association also has volunteer opportunities occastionally that support Washington's national parks--either on-the-ground work, or letter writing campaigns. Washington's National Park Fund coordinates fundraising on behalf of the parks. The Mountaineers organize recreational and educational trips to national parks and other public lands. Visit the Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition's blog for more information.

I hope that gives you a few ideas about how to keep busy this spring and summer!

Coalition of Mount Rainier partners receives National Cooperative Conservation Award

A partnership among Mount Rainier National Park, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the Washington’s Trails Association (WTA), the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Washington’s National Park Fund, and The Mountaineers has won the 2008 Cooperative Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior, Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga announced today. The ongoing partnership supports public volunteer efforts to rebuild damaged trails, campgrounds, and other facilities at Mount Rainier following the devastating floods and windstorms of November and December 2006.

The Cooperative Conservation Award is Interior’s highest award presented to private citizens and organizational partners who support the agency’s mission and demonstrate significant contributions to its programs. Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne will present the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 2008.

“This award justly recognizes the commitment of our partners, and the critical role they played in our flood recovery efforts,” said Uberuaga. “It also acknowledges the huge number of deeply committed individuals and community groups who worked through those partnerships to support the park.”

Twenty other partnerships will be recognized nationwide, including four others with the National Park Service. The Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative is the only program to be honored from the state of Washington.

The Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative, led by the Student Conservation Association, worked with park supervisors to identify and prepare recovery projects, placed a 14-member Conservation Corps within the park, and recruited and led additional teams of public volunteers. More than 700 people from all over the country participated, rebuilding the Wonderland Trail, restoring habitats, campgrounds and historic structures, carrying supplies to backcountry project locations, patrolling trails and assisting park visitors. The recovery initiative was part of a larger volunteer effort involving 1,724 people who contributed 84,038 hours of service at Mount Rainier National Park in 2007, an effort valued at almost $1.6 million.

“SCA is honored to share in this award and pleased to serve Mount Rainier National Park,” said SCA Regional Vice President Jay A. Satz. “We are further gratified by the tremendous volunteer support provided by so many organizations and individuals. Together, we succeeded in meeting the urgent needs of this iconic park and created a new model for collaborative conservation.”

The five non-profit award winners also formed the Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition after the 2006 floods, to support recovery efforts by sharing resources and coordinating efforts among its member organizations. Their contributions to Mount Rainier’s recovery were significant. Through a grant from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), WTA recruited and led 275 volunteers on trail construction projects around the park. NPCA led efforts to generate public and political support for the park’s recovery efforts, and took the lead in organizing major events like National Trails Day and National Public Lands Day. The Fund provided substantial financial support for the partnership with SCA and coordinated fundraising efforts. The Mountaineers committed their large membership and historical standing in the community.

“NPCA is flattered to share this award with our coalition members,” said Sean Smith, NPCA’s Regional Director. “Yet, it truly belongs to the thousands of people who volunteered to contact their elected officials, donate money and supplies, and repair and restore the damage.”

The Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative, with all of its groundbreaking partnerships, will continue in 2008. Flood recovery efforts are ongoing, and volunteers continue to play important roles in the day-to-day protection of park resources and service to park visitors. SCA and the Coalition continue to help through recruitment of volunteer, financial, and political support. Following this winter’s devastating storms on the Olympic Peninsula, they have expanded their mission to support recovery efforts throughout the region, following the model so successfully pioneered at Mount Rainier.

For further information about Mount Rainier National Park’s volunteer program, including ways to get involved in the coming year and links to partner websites, visit the park’s homepage at or this volunteer program blog.

For further information about our partners, please visit:
Student Conservation Association:
NW Parks & Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition:
National Parks Conservation Association:
Washington Trails Association:
Washington’s National Park Fund:
The Mountaineers:


Land deal preserves entrance corridor to Mount Rainier National Park

From the National Parks Traveler website:

"If you've ever entered Mount Rainier National Park's Nisqually Entrance via Ashford, Washington, you're well aware of the long corridor of trees you pass through. Now, thanks to the Nisqually Land Trust, you don't have to worry about those trees being reduced to stumps...."
The Nisqually Land Trust is a non-profit group whose members have invested hundreds of hours of volunteer time on a project that will provide direct benefits to Mount Rainier National Park and its visitors.

Update: Here's a more extensive article, with a map, in the Tacoma News Tribune.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tough hike

Meanwhile, back in the real world, this activity report from one of our volunteers patroling the Carbon River corner of the park--a typical day in the forest for such volunteers:

Activity Report, Saturday, March 8, 2008, Green Lake

It’s still a tough hike to Green Lake. Conditions will vary depending on surface temperature, of course, and today the snow was mostly firm enough to support me without snowshoes. I carried them to GL and back today. Of course when that’s the case the surface can be slippery. That’s the tradeoff. I love my Yaktrac’s.

I cleared 5 inches of snow and ice from the foot bridge. There is at least 3 feet of snow in GL pass. Currently the snow level places the hiker around 4-1/2 feet above footbridge level. I cut in and compacted some steps down to the footbridge on both sides. They probably won’t last very long, though.

There’s another old growth down a short distance above the other one. Both are on the switchbacks above RF. This one you can crawl under, but I still need to cut the switchback in order to get around the other. Lots of smaller trees are down, including one at the RF overlook and one on the spur to the overlook. Also, there’s more debris on trail than I can remember from past years.

Only one set of prints made it to GL recently. He lost the trail below GL pass but managed to find the pass and re-set. Somehow he made it over the OG. Don’t know how; it’s chest high, on a 15 degree angle and slippery.

Snow begins shortly after the washout and builds to around 1-1/2 feet at GLTH. In a few places it has melted along the edge of the road so that you can avoid it. Otherwise it’s an ankle tester.

Plenty of visitors today, and some new tracks after mine on the lower part of GL trail, but I didn’t see the visitors. Probably just too much work for them.

George Coulbourn

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blogging from San Francisco

Maggie Tyler, Volunteer Program Manager at Olympic National ParkI'm back in San Francisco this week, helping to present volunteer program training at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is a training exercise as well, as we'll be offering the same training at Mount Rainier at the end of May (on the 28th and 29th). Unfortunately, I've secumbed to a virus of some kind, and have spent the second day of training laid up in bed feeling miserable while the others in our group meet on the waterfront near Fort Point, with a magnificent view of the Golden Gate Bridge under sunny skies and 65 degree temperatures! Oh well.

Tomorrow evening I head home... but first, my fellow volunteer program managers and I will spend the morning reviewing applications for Special Project Funding in support of volunteer programs throughout the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service. There are some very creative ideas out there--community VIP coordinators, oral history projects, paleontology interns, tribal partnerships--as well as a lot of well-deserving everyday needs--radios, rain gear, fleece vests, and backpacks. I look forward to reading through the proposals. From here, our top 10 projects will go to the national level, where some of them will hopefully get funded. The rest will return to our region, and we'll fund as many of the ones that are left as we can. Ultimately, we're talking about $158,102 for 30 projects in our region, any one of which would provide tremendous benefits for our parks through partnerships with volunteers. It's too bad we can't fund them all!

Mean- while, I'm working on a press release about our Cooper- ative Conser- vation Award; writing grant proposals; and working with my SCA counterpart, Jill Baum, to plan this summer's volunteer program. We have the first draft of a training schedule, so that should be ready to release soon. We've lined up funding and made job offers for ten Conservation Corps members who will work with supervisors throughout the park to organize volunteer projects. We're beginning to put together a calendar of activities for the summer--that should be ready to release soon, too. And we're already getting lots of calls and e-mails from people anxious to put those projects on their calendars. We'll try to get specifics to you as soon as possible. We appreciate your support!