Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Volunteer Science opportunities!

You'll notice yet another exciting new volunteer opportunity on our calendar as of today: Backcountry amphibian surveys at Golden Lakes! Here's the complete description from project leader Dan Rowlands:

Mount Rainier’s moist landscapes harbor many interesting amphibian species. Species of interest are highly impacted by the changing environment as global climate change is felt throughout our region. The western toad was formerly common to Mount Rainier but is now known to persist in relatively few locations within our boundaries. The park is interested in expanding the search for western toad and we need to form a volunteer-based effort to locate more breeding sites. Work will include hiking to ponds and lakes that were formerly known breeding sites to survey possible populations. Volunteers will walk around the circumference of the water if possible while investigating the water, moss, rock and moist habitat for toads. Hip-waders and nets, provided by the park, will occasionally be useful for shoreline surveys. Although some lakes contain non-native fish species, most water bodies have a variety of local amphibians to observe. Reports of toads and other species of concern will aid the park biologists in focusing their studies and tracking population changes over the next few years. Key sites for the volunteer effort include Three Lakes, Mystic Lake and the Golden Lakes. However, since there are so many water bodies in the park, there will be ongoing survey work all summer. Further questions can be forwarded to
The amphibian survey at Golden Lakes--which, by the way, is a magnificent location--will run from August 20 through 23. The park will provide research equipment and even cook for you (for which we charge a nominal fee of $25); all you have to provide is your own backpacking equipment and leg power. Sounds a lot more fun than what I'll be doing in my office those four days!

We're working on other formal projects as well, including Mystic Lake from August 13-17 and Three Lakes from August 30-September 1. These are still unconfirmed, so watch for details. Update: No sooner said than done! They're now posted on the calendar! And as Dan says in his note, survey work will continue all summer, so if you're available at other times, let him know and he'll work you into the schedule.

Meanwhile, the Soundscape Monitoring program has begun, and data are beginning to come in. Check out our fancy new Soundscape Monitoring webpage, with an interactive map of sites we're surveying around the park!

Another Update: As of this afternoon, here's yet another scientific opportunity in the park, in the area of social science: Every year, we conduct surveys of park visitors to measure our customer service and the visitors' understanding of the primary themes of Mount Rainier National Park. Conducting the surveys involves standing in a predetermined location at a specified time and handing out survey cards for four hours, or when you've given out 50 cards, whichever comes first (usually the latter). We need individuals to help at the following dates and times, any one of which you can sign up for individually; follow the links for more details:

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