Monday, March 10, 2008

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:


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