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 .

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