Friday, August 29, 2008

The Way In: The Future of Access to Northwest National Parks

September 3rd, 2008 6-9PM

University of Washington
Kane Hall Room 110

Sponsored by Boeing and The Moraine Foundation

Powerful storms have struck Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades National Parks the last two years, inflicting record damage on three of the Pacific Northwest's most treasured landscapes. Campgrounds washed away, bridges were damaged, trees and buildings blown down and roads destroyed. The Park Service strongly believes climate change is intensifying these storms.

In response to this unprecedented damage, National Parks Conservation Association, the Student Conservation Association and Washington Trails Association formed Washington Parks and Forests Coalition (formerly the Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition) and facilitated record volunteer participation with more than 2,000 community members taking part in events that rebuilt, restored, and repaired roads, trails, and campgrounds at all three parks. This work saved the National Park Service approximately $2 million in expenses. Unfortunately, the impact of the storms is so severe that damage is still being uncovered and assessed, meaing park visitors and park resources continue to be negatively affected.

However, the floods and windstorms of 2006 were just the latest storm events to ravage Washington's public lands. Given the high likelihood that future storms will cause similar damage, the Washington Parks and Forests Coalition is facilitating this discussion on how the federal government can best sustain long term access to places such as Mount Rainier that make sense from an economic and ecological standpoint.

Panelists for this discussion, which is free and open to the public, include:
  • Rep. Jay Inslee, U.S. House of Representatives (WA-01)
  • Clara Conner, Division Engineer, Western Federal Lands Division, Federal Highway Administration
  • Michael Case, Research Scientist, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Adaptation Centre
  • Dr. David Louter, History Program Manager, Pacific West Region, National Park Service
  • Dr. Clifford F. Mass, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
  • Dr. Paula Swedeen, Ecological Economist, Swedeen Consulting
  • Rory Westberg, Deputy Regional Director, Pacific West Region, National Park Service
  • Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn, Director Berman Environmental Law Clinic, University of Washington Law School

For more details, click on the image to the right, find details and a PDF version of the poster on the National Parks Conservation Association website, or read articles in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The News Tribune.

Park honors dedicated volunteers

The News Tribune has details about the upcoming Mount Rainier National Park Associates "alpine gardening" work party on September 6:

Participants will be working at Paradise on the project to replant the area around the new visitor center.

The same article also summarizes the accomplishments of volunteers who were recognized at the annual volunteer picnic a few weeks ago.
Earlier this month, the park staff held its annual volunteer picnic to honor those who have given their time to the park. In particular, the park recognized the following individuals for reaching milestones in their volunteer service, according to park volunteer coordinator Kevin Bacher.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Work In Progress

Openings at the Fair

Thanks to all of you, employees and volunteers, who responded to my need to fill shifts at The Fair. We have filled all but 8 of the 51 shifts. If you would still like to "do the Puyallup", or do another shift, here are the openings

They are all evening shifts from 6 PM to 9-ish PM (except the Friday which is 6-10).
Tuesday, 9/9; Wednesday, 9/10; Thursday, 9/11; Friday, 9/12;
Monday, 9/15; Tuesday, 9/16; Wednesday, 9/17, Thursday, 9/18.

If you can work any of these, let me know by email.


Jim Ross
Outreach Specialist
Mount Rainier National Park

Kautz Creek: Nature's power is evident

That's the title of an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, detailing the effects of the November 2006 floods on Kautz Creek. The author of the article "played leapfrog" with volunteers working on the trail as they hiked up into the forest:

The damage to Kautz Creek and other trails within Mount Rainier National Park was so extensive that volunteers from several organizations answered the call for help and have responded accordingly. At the trailhead we ran into volunteers from Starbucks working with the Student Conservation Association, a non-profit organization established 50 years ago. The focus of SCA is to restore and protect public lands for future generations.

We played leapfrog with the volunteers to the crossing of Kautz Creek, their project for the day. The crew was putting in stone steps where the stream bank had crumbled away.We stopped to view the destruction; much of it still looks as if it happened yesterday. Between the trailhead and Kautz Creek fallen trees and root balls line the new route the creek created. The old bridge lies askew on a pile of debris where it was tossed during the rampage. Now bridges are back in place but debris borders the creek as far as the eye can see.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Great pictures of WTA trail work

The Washington Trails Association has been doing some fantastic work this summer on the east side of the park. Lynn Kittridge, with help from her daughter Johana, has captured some great photos of volunteers in action. The pictures include June shoveling at Sunrise and at Panorama Point, the Huckleberry Creek Bridge replacement, Owyhigh lakes trail work, and the Glacier Basin Trail ribbon cutting and first day of work.

Here's a slide show of some of Lynn's images for you to enjoy. Check out the entire collection on her Picasa website at

Thanks for the pictures, Lynn and Johana! If anyone else has pictures to share, we'll make them available for everyone to enjoy!

Map and Compass, Crosscut Saw training to be offered in early September

Two new volunteer training opportunities are coming up in the next few weeks!

Map and Compass Workshop
On September 5 from 9am to 4pm, volunteers Flash Parlini and Carol and Jim Miltimore will offer training in "orienteering"--the use of a map and compass--at the Carbon River Ranger Station. Sign up online for this free course!

Crosscut Saw Workshop
On September 16 from 8am to 5pm, join us at the Longmire Community Building for training in how to use that most dependable of historic trail construction tools, a crosscut saw. The training will be presented by U.S. Forest Service instructors through a grant from Boeing and a partnership with the Carhartt Center. Topics will include everything you ever wanted to know about cross-cut saws, saw-related tools, identifying binds and bucking techniques. Participants are expected to include Forest and Park Service personnel as well as volunteers and Student Conservation Association interns.

A second day of training, offered on September 17, is limited to 14 participants and will be entirely field-based. Successfully completing both days, including evaluations, will earn you a certification card. Previous crosscut or chainsaw experience is desirable. Please register online for the classroom training day, and contact Jill Baum at or 360-569-2211 ext. 3414 if you're also interested in attending the second day.

Other volunteer opportunities coming up
Check out our calendar at the top of the page for more volunteer opportunities, including:

Glacier Basin Trail Reroute
Join the Washington Trails Association to help rebuild the Glacier Basin Trail! Teams will be working August 29, 30, and 31; or, participate in one of WTA's "Volunteer Vacations" from September 20-27. Check out their website for details.

Stevens Canyon Reroute
The Student Conservation Association will be leading a four-day backcountry project in Stevens Canyon to continue repairs from the floods of November 2006. Details and registration are available online.

Puyallup Fair Information
Volunteers are needed to help staff the National Park Service's information booth at the Puyallup Fair. See our earlier posting for more information.

Revegetation and Planting
Join the Mount Rainier National Park Associates on September 6 for a revegetation project; details are available on their website. Or, sign up online to join one of the park service crews on September 6, September 13, or September 20 to help with planting projects at Paradise.

National Public Lands Day
Don't forget the Mother of All Volunteer Days: National Public Lands Day! Projects will be happening all over the country on this date, including several at Mount Rainier. We're still putting together a suite of projects to choose from in the Longmire area of the park, which will be followed by a barbecue or picnic open to all volunteers; and the Washington Trails Association will be continuing their work on the Glacier Basin Trail in the northeast corner of the park.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Temporary daytime closure on SR 123

Travelers planning to travel on the East side of the Park in September should be aware that following Labor Day weekend, from 7 am Tuesday, September 2nd until approximately Thursday, September 18th, there will be a daytime road closure of SR 123 from Cayuse Pass to the north side of the intersection with Stevens Canyon Road for paving. The daytime closures will be Mon-Thu, from 7am to 5pm.

For details, visit Mount Rainier's Access and Roads blog.

Full-time volunteer program manager position approved

It's official--Mount Rainier National Park will be hiring a full-time volunteer program manager, with responsibilities for managing the day-to-day operation of our program and building and maintaining partnerships that support it.

But, you aask, don't we already have that? Well, yes and no. Back in B.C.--that is, Before Catastrophe, the great floods of November 2006--our volunteer program was managed as a "collateral duty" (about 30% of the job description) by a GS-9 park ranger interpreter (yours truly). That was just about enough capacity to keep the program running, but not enough to significantly grow the program.

After the floods, Mount Rainier received literally hundreds of calls, letters, and e-mails from people eager to help out. It quickly became clear that the job needed more than 30% of a single position, and that, furthermore, opportunities existed for building partnerships that would benefit the volunteer program for years to come. The volunteer program manager position was promoted, temporarily, to full-time GS-11.

Over the past year and a half, our volunteer program has surged in participation and effectiveness. The vast majority of that success is due to you, the 1,724 people who volunteered last year and the so-far uncounted numbers who've participated again this year, including hundreds of people who've volunteered for the first time, becoming partners with us in the stewardship of this magnificent park. But there's no doubt that having a full-time volunteer manager capable of building and maintaining those partnerships, with the Student Conservation Association, Washington Trails Association, National Parks Conservation Association, and others, has helped.

As of today, Mount Rainier National Park has committed to keeping the position of full-time, GS-11 volunteer program manager. This is an investment in the park's future, and an affirmation of the growing role that volunteers play in the stewardship of Mount Rainier. I'm personally very excited by this commitment, and look forward to our program continuing to take a leadership role in the National Park Service!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rainier's Glacier Basin Trail getting a re-route

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a great article about the work that's now underway on the Glacier Basin Trail, under the direction of the Washington Trails Association.

Washington Trails Association began work on the trail with a group of high school students participating on one of WTA's weeklong Volunteer Vacations for Youth earlier this month. Nine teens and two crew leaders stayed at the nearby White River campground and worked five consecutive days on the clearing the corridor and beginning the new construction: clearing duff, large rocks, downed wood, bucked trees, and more. The WTA youth crew worked along side other youth groups, including Northwest Youth Corps, Earthcorps, and Student Conservation Association. For those of you who have ever participated in building new trail, you know this is not a quick or easy task! But the groups made a lot of progress, and although there is still much to be done, the project is finally on its way.

Shadows of the Past will be a major project for next year

As many of you know, we had been considering presenting a second Shadows of the Past program at Longmire next weekend, staffed entirely by volunteers. (Click here for photos of the first one.) In the end, that goal has proved too daunting! There's just not enough time to prepare and train, and this time of year everyone is busy.

However, amateur actors, do not despair--we plan to revive the idea next spring! Watch this blog and your e-mail for updates on this exciting project. The current plan is to arrange training next spring--perhaps in June--and then to offer the program twice a month in July and August and maybe September. We'll be looking for people to carry lanterns and serve as trail guides, and also people to serve as character actors, portraying, for example, James and Virinda Longmire, Fay Fuller, John Muir, and other individuals from the park's past. We have a dozen scripts to choose from, as well as costume materials, and we'll be looking into possible grant funding to develop more, so all you'll need to do is memorize a few paragraphs, get dressed up, and have fun!

We'll be posting a recruitment notice soon, but feel free to write to us at any time to get on our mailing list for this very special program, one that has potential to be a highlight of our summers at Mount Rainier National Park.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shadows of the Past photos

Finally, as promised, here are some pictures from Saturday night's Shadows of the Past presentation! Volunteers assisted with this fantastic program by carrying lanterns for park visitors. In the future, we hope to offer this program more than once per year, by enlisting volunteers not only to carry lights, but to perform the characters themselves. Are you interested in community theater in a national park? Contact us and become part of our future team of historical reenactors!

Lantern light and star light across the meadow

Settlers James and Virinda Longmire

Conservationist John Muir
Climber Fay Fuller

Superintendent Grenville Allen

Photographer Asahel Curtis

Climber and park promoter P.B. Van Trump

Shadows of light along the trail

A young woman shares stories about her visit in the park with her Aunt Eleanor

The cast

Volunteers needed at Ohanapecosh Visitor Center

Late August and early September are always difficult times for covering staff schedules at our visitor centers, as summer seasonal rangers return to college and their jobs in the public school system. East District Interpreter Julia Pinnix reports that we could really use some help in the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center over the next several weeks. The following dates are ones where our need is most critical:

  • Thurs-Fri 8/ 21-22
  • Mon-Mon, 8/25-9/1
  • Tues-Thurs 9/2-4
  • Mon-Thurs 9/8-11
  • And any days until the close of the season (Oct. 13)!
What we most need are folks willing to help run the front desk. This involves answering questions about the trails and roads and places to visit; and help with the campground system. If there are people who'd like to rove the trails, too, we'd never turn that down! But our really critical need is visitor center desk time.

We're looking for people who know the park, and ideally who are already trained volunteers, but new volunteers are welcome too. We'll provide a volunteer uniform and may be able to arrange housing as well.

If you're available and interested, please contact Julia Pinnix by e-mail or by phone at 360-569-6048.

Volunteers needed to help at the Puyallup Fair

Volunteers receive free tickets and parking!

Another year has passed and it's time to do the Puyallup.

The park will have a prominent place in the Northwest Outdoors Building at the Puyallup Fair. Our 10' x 20' space will have two exhibits, one on the animals of the park and our efforts to keep wildlife wild, and another one featuring the park and its partners. But the most important part is a real live person representing the park and/or its partners, talking with all those enthusiastic fair goers.

This is where you come in. The fair runs from September 5th through September 21st. We would like to have at least one park person for each of the three 4-hour shifts a day (10 AM - 2 PM, 2 PM - 6 PM, 6 PM - 10 PM). You will receive a ticket for admission to the fair and a parking pass (together worth $20-$22). You can experience the fair before and/or after your shift. None of the evening concerts are free but there are a lot of free activities throughout the day. You can find out more by going to the fair web site at

I traditionally cover the afternoon and evening shifts on Saturdays and Sundays, but that leaves 45 shifts for you. From now until fair time I will be splitting my time between my park office and my Puyallup office so please email me with the day(s) and time(s) you can volunteer and hopefully we can match you up with an open shift. As I make the shift assignments, I will mail you instructions, maps, and tickets. All park employees, volunteers, and friends are welcome to help out.

Our SCA folks will be doing a number of presentations at the builiding's Hands-on Arena and the J-VIPA will be staffing the booth one day. Trading cards will be a new addition this year. Each organization in the Northwest Outdoors Building will have cards to give to the kids. Our cards will feature park animals and a message about keeping them wild. This should open up many more positive contacts with fairgoers, especially the kids. You will have a great time at the fair and I look forward to hearing from you.

Jim Ross
Outreach Specialist
Mount Rainier National Park

Volunteer opportunity at Mount Rainier National Park this Saturday, August 23rd!!!

We will be collecting seeds and berries to be planted on sites damaged by the flood of 2006. This is a great chance to work in a beautiful setting, have fun, and help the park in its flood recovery efforts.

Work will begin at 9am and continue until 3pm. You are welcome to work any portion of the day. Meet in Longmire at the Longmire Museum. Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch, plenty of water, and rain gear.

For more information, please call Kim Popek at 360-569-2211 ext. 3356.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tales from the volunteer picnic and the Shadows of the Past

For those who missed it, our annual volunteer picnic on August 16 was well-attended, with a great cross-section of brand new volunteers and old pros. Michael Lee worked his magic in the kitchen, preparing three delicious entrees, which were supplemented by a spread of salads and deserts. This year's event was low-key, but we of course took the opportunity to bring everyone up to date with this year's accomplishments and upcoming volunteer projects, and to say "thanks" to everyone who's volunteered so far this year!

In particular, we recognized the following individuals for reaching milestones in their volunteer service:
  • Elizabeth Beaulieu -- 500 hours (since 2006), assisting with stream surveys and river research
  • Hank and Judy Bernard -- 500 hours apiece (since 2006), as campground hosts and meadow rovers
  • Jack Greene -- 500 hours (since 2007), working as an interpreter, educator, and park planner
  • Mary Heskett -- 500 hours (this year), working as a cultural resource assistant in the curatorial library
  • Brian McDonald -- 500 hours (this year), working as a Geologist-in-Parks intern at Paradise
  • Marcy Partridge -- 500 hours (since 2007), working as a cultural resource assistant in the curatorial library
  • Helen Young -- 500 hours (this year), as an interpreter at Paradise and Longmire through the Student Conservation Association
  • Russel Gibbs -- 2,000 hours (since 2003), assisting with wildlife surveys, Ohanapecosh area patrol, and wilderness cleanup
  • Ruth Graves -- 2,000 hours (since 2005), as a west district interpreter at Longmire and Paradise
  • Carol Yoshiko Miltimore -- 2,000 hours (since 2006), doing a little bit of everything, including trail construction, soundscape monitoring, curation, backcountry patrol, and much more
  • James Miltimore -- 3,000 hours (since 2005), also doing a little bit of everything, including trail construction and patrol and natural and cultural resource science
  • Phil Winn -- 4,000 hours (since 1995), as a wilderness ranger on the east and north sides of the park
  • Clyde and Lois Ambacher -- 6,000 hours apiece (since 1985), assisting with maintenance projects and litter pickup
  • Flash Parlini -- a staggering 10,000 hours and counting (since 1991), patroling the Carbon River and Mowich Lake areas of the park
In addition, several individuals have qualified for an annual Volunteer Pass, on the basis of having contributed 500 hours of service since January 1, 2007. These individuals are eligible to receive a pass that provides free entrance to any Federal area that charges an entrance fee for one year--the equivalent of an America the Beautiful Pass, sold for $85 at our park entrance stations:

  • George Coulbourn
  • Russel Gibbs
  • Jack Greene
  • Mary Heskett
  • Brian McDonald
  • Marcy Partridge
  • Phil Winn
  • Helen Young
Many more individuals will also qualify for this pass as soon as their hours are turned in and compiled for the year. If you think you might be close, be sure to get your volunteer time to me, or have your supervisor do so.
Our gratitude and thanks to all of you!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Coming tomorrow...

I ran out of time today, but here's what's coming tomorrow: more volunteer opportunities! We're looking for volunteers to help with seed collection... the Puyallup Fair... backcountry maintenance... visitor service at the Ohanapecosh visitor center... and maybe, even, living history.

Oh yeah, about that living history presentation: here's a preview photo (more tomorrow):

The triumphant return of Starbucks

Starbucks employees visited Mount Rainier last year to help with several projects, and made a hugely positive impression on our park trail crews and SCA crew leaders. We were pleased to welcome the employees of Starbucks back on the weekend of August 9-10, and they did not disappoint us! Here's a set of photos from their visit. The crew built trail and bridges along the Westside Road and collected seeds for our revegetation program. They were assisted by students from our Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program, which has been coordinated and supervised this summer through our partnership with the Student Conservation Association.

By the way, Starbucks also donated $170 to support our partnership with SCA... along with 60 pounds of coffee and several cases of tea! We love you, Starbucks employees!

The full album is here.

Rainier volunteers featured in Boston newspaper

Yesterday's Boston Globe features an article about Mount Rainier National Park, which includes reference to two of the park's interpretive volunteers, Ruth Graves and Maureen McLean. (How's this for a global society: Ruth, from Michigan, and Maureen, currently working in England, are featured in a Boston newspaper for their work as volunteers in Washington state?)

Ruth Graves, 78, a volunteer park ranger.... told a story of Floyd Schmoe, the park's first naturalist and ranger.... Schmoe "tried to do something worthwhile every day of his life," said Graves, who might have been talking about herself. A retired high school chemistry teacher, she has a profound connection to Mount Rainier, she said, calling the park a "beautiful example of the most magnificent kind of nature."
This photo is of Ruth volunteering in the Longmire Museum.

Catching up

Horrible as it may sound, I've been too busy to blog for most of the past week! Now that the volunteer picnic is past, and before the J-VIPA volunteers arrive, I'll be getting caught up. There's a lot to report on: things going on in the park, things coming up. Here's the first installment, a few miscellaneous news items:

Spotted Owls more endangered than ever
Check out this article in the Seattle Times. Many of our volunteers help with Spotted Owl survey work.

Westside Road closed for maintenance
Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga has announced that repairs to the Westside Road, located at the southwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park, will begin on Monday, August 18. This repair work will result in the road being closed to all public access for a three week period, Monday through Friday, from August 18 through September 5, 2008. This closure is to ensure the safety of the public, as heavy equipment will be working in the area along with trucks carrying large loads of rocks and boulders. The closure applies to all public access including hiking, biking, and motor vehicles, and will extend from the beginning of the Westside Road at its intersection with the main park road, to the motor vehicle gate at Fish Creek. During the closure periods, there will not be access to the road north of Fish Creek from the main park road. The Westside Road will be open to public access on weekends beginning at 5:00 pm on Fridays through midnight on Sundays, and will also be open on Labor Day, September 1.

The Westside Road was heavily damaged during flooding that occurred at Mount Rainier on November 6, 2006. The work occurring in August will involve reconstructing the road embankment where Fish Creek has eroded it away, constructing two rock barbs (diversionary structures) in the creek to help stabilize the bank, and installing riprap and logs to protect the bank from future erosion.

Park crews (including volunteers) will revegetate the area once repairs are made. Obtaining required environmental compliance approval for these repairs, and completion of other flood-related repairs throughout the park, has cleared the way for work to begin on the Westside Road. It is crucial that work be completed on the road prior to the start of the rainy season which occurs around September of each year.

Please note that additional work on the Westside Road is slated for September in the flood-damaged area north of the Fish Creek gate. Visitors should use caution whenever near construction zones throughout the park.

Old Timer's Alumni Brunch coming up September 6
Are you one of the lucky individuals who have worked at Mount Rainier for decades, either as a paid employee or volunteers, or both? Join us for our annual alumni brunch on Saturday September 6 at the Longmire Community Building. Contact Donna Rahier at 360-569-2211 ext. 2301 for details.

More bears
Here's a photo submitted by a friend of one of our volunteers, taken near Summerland last week:

Keep an eye out for the bears--they've been very active this year!--and remember to keep your food out of reach in the campgrounds.

A volunteer reports back
Here's a note from our mailbag this week:

I thought I would send you a note to let you know that Crys and I had a good time working with the SCA in Steven's Canyon this summer. We built a bridge, a french drain, and did many other revisions and repairs in order to prevent any natural decay to the existing trail and enhance the Mt. Rainier visitor's experience. The food was good, the SCA members were all professionals (particularly Brad who was extremely personable, friendly, knowledgable, tough, and goal orientated - this guy rocks, if I were responsible for hiring for the National Park Service I would actively recruit him for full time permanant employment before he gets another offer someplace else), and the camp site was awesome. - T.M.
There are several more backcountry projects available on our calendar this summer, if you'd like to see for yourself how much fun it is...

Backcountry volunteer survives 100 foot fall at Zion National Park
Some of you may remember Kaitlyn Bohlin, formerly of Mount Rainier National Park. She unfortunately had a serious accident a few weeks ago at Zion. Last word I heard is that she's recovering well, despite being in critical condition for a while. Read the latest here, including a letter dictated by Kaitlyn herself.

And last but not least,

Trotter heads for Sequoia; Kinzer to Niobrara
Two of our staff members who have been ardent supporters of the volunteer program will be leaving Mount Rainier in the next few months:

Congratulations to Chris Trotter who has accepted a Law Enforcement Protection Ranger position at Sequoia National Park. She will be working in the busy Lodgepole area, one of the more active districts of the park, which is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Southern California. Chris started working at Mount Rainier ("MORA") seasonally in 1992 as a Park Interpreter. She worked seasonally at Mount Rainier through 1996, then taking positions at Rocky Mountain NP and Saguaro NP, and working some winter seasons at MORA through 1999. In 2000, Chris became permanent here at MORA as a Park Guide, switching over to a Law Enforcement position later that year. Having been at MORA off and on since the early 90's, Chris has a great deal of experience and knowledge about the park and area that will be difficult to replace. Chris starts work at Sequoia on August 31. Please take some time to thank Chris for the work and enthusiasm she has brought to her job as a ranger here at MORA. - Chuck Young, Chief Ranger

Please join me in congratulating Sandi Kinzer on her selection for the position of Chief of Interpretation at Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska. Sandi will remain at Mount Rainier for the opening of the new Jackson Memorial Visitor Center October 10th, and start her new position October 12th. Sandi came to Mount Rainier in September of 2004 as East District Interpreter and Outreach Coordinator. This summer she took on the task of supervising interpretive operations park wide. She is an outstanding interpreter and supervisor. Her vision, enthusiasm, and professionalism will be greatly missed! Best wishes, Sandi, in your new role! - Lee Taylor, Chief of Interpretation and Education

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reminder: Volunteer Picnic and Shadows of the Past

Just a reminder, everyone: Tomorrow is our volunteer picnic! Join us at 5:00 pm at the Longmire Community Building in Mount Rainier National Park for an informal celebration of volunteerism in the park. Our Conservation Corps chef, Michael Lee, is preparing four scrumptious main courses, and we'll provide drinks and table service; bring a side dish, salad, or desert to share!

After the picnic, plan to stick around for the annual Shadows of the Past program. This is one of the most interesting and popular programs we offer in the park. Setup will begin at 7:00, and the program itself begins at dusk--around 9pm.

See you there!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Glacier Basin Reroute ribbon cutting ceremony!

I received this photo this evening from Tom Caples on the White River trail crew, who says:
Hi Kevin,
Here is a photo of The Mount Rainier National Park Associates and Washington Trails Association volunteers breaking new ground on the long awaited Glacier Basin reroute. Aug. 9, 2008.
Tom Caples,
White River Trails
At long last, the reconstruction of the Glacier Basin Trail begins! I spoke with Carl Fabiani a few days ago, who said the final pieces of the Environmental Assessment for the reroute were being completed. But because of the late start, the work on this trail will continue into 2009 and probably even 2010. There will be lots of opportunities for volunteers to help out! If you'd like to help, start by checking our calendar at the top of this page, or the work calendars of the Washington Trails Association and Mount Rainier National Park Associates.

Reminders and new events coming up

There are several exciting events coming up that you can sign up for with the click of a link! Here's a reminder of some of our more critical needs in the next few weeks. Check out our complete calendar at the top of this page for a full list!

Annual Volunteer Picnic--August 16
Meet your fellow volunteers, hear all about current events, share delicious food, and stay for the living history program!

Shadows of the Past Living History Program--August 16
Help out by carrying a lantern for visitors, and meet historical characters from the park's past. Then consider returning on August 30 as an actor!

Visitor Surveys at Paradise--August 17
Help us survey visitors at the Jackson Visitor Center.

Wilderness Amphibian Surveys at Golden Lakes--August 21-23
Conduct research on amphibian populations in one of the most magnificent locations at Mount Rainier!

Revegetation Project Day--August 23
We're kicking off a major revegetation project at Paradise this month. Join us to restore the beautiful meadows!

Stevens Canyon Wonderland Trail Reroute--August 26-30
This section of the Wonderland Trail just reopened after almost two years, thanks to the efforts of volunteers! Help finish the project.

Wilderness Amphibian Surveys at Three Lakes--August 30-September 1
Conduct research on amphibian populations along the crest of the Cascade Range!

New project: Painting/Maintenance Assistance--early September
We've just posted an advertisement for a volunteer to spend two weeks with us in early September, helping to paint facilities at Paradise. If you're looking for two weeks of easy work in one of the most spectacular locations on Earth, check out our volunteer listing!

Posting soon: Patrol cabin and shelter restoration at Lake George--week of August 18
Mount Rainier's backcountry maintenance crews will be replacing the cedar shakes on the patrol cabin and backcountry shelter at Lake George, beginning the week of August 18. We'll carry 60 bundles of shakes in to the trailhead at Round Pass by ATV, but will need volunteers to pack it the rest of the way to Lake George for our crews to use. Join us for a workout in the wilderness, and camp out for a few days in a magnificent backcountry location! This would be ideal for a group of individuals, or as a project for an organized group. If you're interested in helping out, contact Jill Baum or Ginny Galbreth at 360-569-2211 ext. 3414. We would also welcome individuals to help split and bundle shakes in preparation for this project.

Two fun events coming up

Two fun events that are part of the tradition of rangers at Mount Rainier are coming up: the annual Sunrise Desert Festival, and the annual Full Moon Hike. If you're a Mount Rainier volunteer, consider joining in the fun!

Sunrise Desert Contest August 13th

From Sierra Willoughby, Lead Interpreter at Sunrise:

Greetings Citizens of Mount Rainier,

The Sunrise community of NPS and GSI coordially invite you to a long-standing tradition here on the higher, drier side of the great mountain. Bring your best creation for an evening of sweetness and good company. Awards will be given out to the best creations in several catagories. Click on the linked image for a flyer with details.

WHAT: Desert Contest

WHEN: August 13, 2008 8:00 PM

WHERE: Sunrise Day Lodge

Full Moon Hike August 15th

From David Gunderson at the Mount Rainier Warehouse:

The full moon in August appears to be the 16th, which is a Saturday. So, I will lead the full moon hike up the Pinnacle Peak trail to Plummer Peak on Friday the 15th after work. Anyone interested in joining in, please bring a flashlight, warm cloths, and a snack (your dinner) and water. Car-pool from the Warehouse leaving at 5pm or meet at the Reflection Lake trail head to Pinnacle Peak at 5:30. If it is rainy or overcast, the hike will be postponed until the September full moon. Any questions, call me at the warehouse X3337.

Kudos, and lightning in the backcountry

I'm catching up on my mail bag, and want to share a nice note we received a couple of weeks ago:

Good Evening -- Thanks for the info re: Mowich Lake/Spary Park. I also wanted to write a note of thanks to your trailcrews and all who must have worked extremely hard to rebuild the trail from the White River Campground to Glacier Basin / Burroughs Mountain. My husband and I had the pleasure of hiking up to the Borroughs last Saturday, a hike we have done many times, though not since the storms of '06 and the recent avalanches. It was an awsome experience to see the consequences of nature's power. You all should be commended for the beautiful way you have re-routed and repaired the trail! Thanks again. Best regards, Bev & Eberhard

Good work, park and volunteer trail crews!

There's an interesting discussion going on at our volunteer discussion group, at What do you do when a lightning storm comes up and you're on top of a ridge? I encourage anyone who doesn't know the answer to this question--or who has insights to contribut--to check it out and join the discussion.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Join us at the Mariners vs Yankees game on September 7!

The Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association will be celebrating their 15th anniversary in the park this year with a visit from August 23 to September 13. A total of ten student volunteers and interns will stay with host families during their visit, while working on projects in the areas of trail maintenance, revegetation, interpretation, and education. This group has contributed more than 17,000 hours of volunteer service to Mount Rainier over the past 15 years and we look forward to welcoming them back!

One of the most fun traditions we've maintained over the years with the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association is to attend, as a group, a game of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle. This tradition is open to park staff and volunteers as well as JVIPA members and their host families, so we'd like to give you the opportunity to join us! We need to order tickets right away, so if you're a current Mount Rainier volunteer and would like to attend, please confirm with me no later than Monday, August 18. Based on the number of people who confirm, the total cost for tickets and transportation will be either $36.00 per person (if we have less than 40 people) or $28.50 per person (if we have 40 or more). No government funds are used to support this outing. The cost breakdown is as follows:

$27.50/$20.00 Ticket price
$8.50 Round-trip transportation

This year's game is Sunday, September 7, beginning at 1:10 p.m. We will travel together to the game on the Sounder Commuter Rail, which has a special train from Tacoma/Puyallup for afternoon games. We will plan to meet at the train station in Puyallup in time to board at 11:12 a.m. (Please let me know when you confirm your attendance if you will make alternative transportation plans. For instance, the train leaves the Tacoma station at 11:00 a.m.) The train arrives in Seattle at 12:00 noon, and will leave Seattle on the return trip 35 minutes after the final out.

Once I know how many people are attending, I will contact you with information about how to reimburse me for the tickets. I'll order either group tickets or a batch of individual tickets, and will pre-order rail passes. I will also contact each of you with the full list of people who are attending so that you may organize carpooling.

Again, please confirm your plans and number of people with me by Monday, August 18. I will order tickets on Tuesday and confirm arrangements with you shortly thereafter.

Go Mariners! We'll see you at the game!

For anyone who's interested, here's the full schedule for our Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association volunteers:

Saturday August 23: Seven JVIPA students and two interns arrive. A welcome party, with host families, will be at the Education Center at 4:00 p.m.

Sunday August 24: Rest day.

Monday August 25: Orientation day for the interns, including a park tour and review of previous JVIPA projects.

Tuesday August 26-Friday August 29: JVIPA will work on a trail project under the direction of the SCA Conservation Corps.

Saturday August 30-Sunday August 31: Rest/host family days. Two JVIPA members will leave, and one new member will arrive.

Monday September 1: Labor Day (Rest day).

Tuesday September 2-Friday September 5: JVIPA will work on a planting/revegetation project at Paradise, under the direction of our planting crew leader. At present, it looks most likely that the schedule will actually be three 10-hour days, Tuesday through Thursday, with Friday off.

Saturday September 6-Sunday September 7: Free weekend with host families.

Sunday September 7: Optional trip to the afternoon Seattle Mariners game against the Yankees!

Monday September 8: JVIPA will probably work shifts all day at the NPS booth at the Puyallup Fair. (We'll be posting a recruitment notice shortly for additional volunteers, so watch for that in a future post.)

Tuesday September 9-Thursday September 11: JVIPA will continue working on planting/revegetation, but under the leadership of the SCA Conservation Corps.

Friday September 12: Rest day, and a farewell potluck.

Saturday September 13: Depart for the airport and fly home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stevens Canyon opens to Wonderland Trail hikers

As of 1pm today, the Wonderland Trail is open to hikers in Stevens Canyon. Yeah!! Thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who helped make this happen!

Monday, August 4, 2008

An update from Sunrise

From Pete Sabin, Sunrise Meadow Rover:

Today [Saturday August 2] I went from Sunrise to Shadow Lake then on up to the top of First Burroughs by way of the Glacier Overlook.

The view from Glacier Overlook is great. This would be a good recommendation for anyone who doesn't want to go up Burroughs. While I was at the overlook, I met a group who saw a bear in the meadow near Shadow Lake. I had my camera ready but no bear there when I was.

Between the overlook and the top of 1st Burroughs there is one remaining snow field to cross. It's a few hundred yards and less than 300' in elevation below the top of 1st Burroughs. Most people were crossing but some were turning back.

The crossing wasn't too difficult because the snow was soft. The distance was less than 100'. Still, a slide could very serious. Because of the steepness of the slope it would be hard to stop before sliding into the rocks below. The ice axe recommended warning signs should stay in place until the snow melts.

If the snow should be frozen the snow crossing should be avoided without ice axes, ropes, and experience.

After I returned to the VC I met people who saw the bear (cinnamon) and its cub (dark) on the service road about 5 minutes from Sunrise.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Facebook and new carpooling resources

The Mount Rainier Volunteers have now joined Facebook! Sign in at and search for Rainier Volunteers to send me a friend request. You can also join the Mount Rainier Volunteers facebook group!

I'm new to facebook, so if any of you are experts with the service, please send me your suggestions about how to take full advantage of it.

In addition, I've "borrowed" a technique from the Washington Trails Association; any large group volunteer project that you sign up for now through our Eventbrite site will have the option of listing your carpooling preferences. Then all you need to do is watch the event page to see who else signs up, and contact anyone whose carpooling preferences match your own.

Remember, too, that carpooling can be arranged by becoming a member of our Rainier Volunteers Yahoo group. Just post your carpooling offer or request on the group calendar. This is especially helpful for long-term volunteers like Meadow Rovers.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

WTA Volunteers Improve East Side Area Trails

From east side volunteer Carol Miltimore, a report on recent volunteer activities by the Washington Trails Association:

After kicking off on National Trails Day at Carbon River, the WTA volunteers have been working on the east side area trails. During the the months of June and July, many many volunteers worked at Owyhigh Lakes Trail, Wonderland Trail (Fryingpan Creek Trail, White River area, White River to Sunrise), Huckleberry Creek Trail, Eastside Trail and Glacier Basin Trail. The eager, hardworking volunteers have accomplished a great deal in two months: early season trail grooming and brushing, trail tread improvement, drain cleaning and improvement, downed tree log-out, footlog replacement and enhancement and trail reroutes. Many dedicated volunteers have been signing up for work parties multiple times.

Starting in August the WTA trail work will support the MORA trail crew with the reroute of the Glacier Basin Trail, which was heavily damaged during the Fall 2006 storm.

Wonderland Trail at White River
Another Big Rock to Dig Out

Wonderland Trail at White River
Improved tread

Huckleberry Creek Trail
Bridge in need of replacement

Huckleberry Creek Trail
Brand new replacement footlog

Eastside Trail -- Deer Creek Bridge
A little scary crossing

Eastside Trail: Deer Creek Bridge
After improvement

Fire lookout reconstruction volunteers reach summit

From the Mount Rainier Climbing Blog:

Pilots Richard Bovey, Bryan Campbell and Scott Salkovics from the 159th alpha Company Army Reserve, accompanied by two climbing rangers, spent four days at Mount Rainier training and climbing to the summit via the Emmons Winthrop Route.... In addition to their assistance with SARs, Bovey, Campbell and Salkovics are also huge supporters and fans of Mount Rainier. Bovey and Campbell have done volunteer work to help restore two of the lookout towers and all are avid outdoorsmen....

Friday, August 1, 2008

Peak season for Mount Rainier National Park's volunteer program

Mount Rainier National Park News Release

August 1, 2008
For Immediate Release

Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager, Mount Rainier National Park
360-569-2211 ext. 3385

Mount Rainier National Park’s volunteer program has reached peak season, with a full calendar of opportunities for those interested in contributing to the stewardship of their national park, Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher said today. “It’s very exciting. We’ve never before had this many projects, or this wide a range of opportunities to choose from,” said Bacher.

Projects coming up in the next month include trail construction and repair, visitor education, revegetation, and exotic plant removal. “We’re especially excited about some of our new options for volunteering—areas we’ve never worked with volunteers before,” said Bacher. Volunteers will spend three to five day stretches in the backcountry at Mystic Lake, Golden Lakes, and Three Lakes surveying amphibian species. Volunteers are conducting sound research at locations throughout the park, documenting the encroachment of human sounds into the wilderness, and will help with visitor satisfaction surveys at Longmire and Paradise. Volunteers will lead visitors by lantern-light on the annual “Shadows of the Past” living history tour at Longmire on August 16, and if enough people are interested, will present an encore performance two weeks later with volunteers in the leading roles.

Many of these opportunities arise from productive community partnerships, said Bacher. A partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), born in the aftermath of the devastating floods of November 2006, continues to support the park’s efforts to rebuild roads, trails, and campgrounds and to expand the park’s volunteer program. SCA has also offered a series of training courses in wilderness first aid, in cooperation with Aerie Backcountry Medicine. The Washington Trails Association is leading trail construction projects in and around the park. The National Parks Conservation Association is organizing public seminars and plans for National Public Lands Day on September 27. These partnerships are supported by major grants from Boeing Corporation and Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). Meanwhile, groups throughout the region continue to bring their members to the park for project days, including the Mount Rainier National Park Associates, the Washington Geocachers, the Boy Scouts of America, REI Adventures and employees, Starbucks Corporation, the Catholic Youth Organization, the Boeing Employees Association, and the Japan Volunteers in Parks Association of Tokyo.

Many of this year’s projects continue work begun last year to rebuild facilities following the preceding winter’s floods, but an increasing number of volunteers are more focused on the day-to-day efforts of protecting the park’s resources and serving its visitors. The park’s “Meadow Rover” program, for example, which organizes volunteers to patrol trails and to assist and educate visitors, has expanded dramatically in recent years. The growth of interest in citizen science is another good example, said Bacher. “A lot of people responded last year in our time of crisis. Now, they’re interested in becoming long-term partners in the stewardship of their park.”

These partnerships have been recognized by a series of awards this spring. In April, the park’s coalition of partnerships received the Cooperative Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior. In May, the park’s volunteer program—representing more than 1700 people who participated in 2007—received the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, the National Park Service’s highest honor for volunteerism. And in July, Superintendent Dave Uberuaga was recognized with a Federal Land Manager’s Award from Take Pride in America for his support of volunteer efforts.

The park has worked hard to transform itself into a place that welcomes volunteers as partners in the park’s efforts. “It benefits all of us,” said Bacher. “The volunteer has a great experience, and the park gains another advocate for its mission of preserving and protecting Mount Rainier for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

To learn more about Mount Rainier’s volunteer program and how to get involved, visit the park’s website at and its volunteer program blog at .


Note: For publication-quality photos of volunteers in action, visit our Picasa site at .