Monday, August 18, 2008

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

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