Monday, September 29, 2008

111 (or: A Brief Recap of National Public Lands Day)

National Public Lands Day 2008 was a huge success at Mount Rainier! All told, 111 volunteers (including 9 crew leaders from the Mount Rainier Recovery Corps) joined a dozen Park Service employees to work on eight projects on the south side of the Mount Rainier and on adjacent Forest Service land. Many more volunteers joined Washington Trails Association crew leaders to help with projects on the north side of the park at Glacer Basin.

The weather this year was stunningly beautiful. A band of clouds formed around the middle of the Mountain mid-day, but dissipated by evening. Temperatures were cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon. Fall colors and huckleberries were everywhere.

Volunteers gathered at 9am at Longmire, and were welcomed by Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher, Superintendent Dave Uberuaga, and President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor Edith, who gave a rousing speech about the importance of protecting public lands for the benefit of both present and future generations. Under the direction of SCA Project Manager Jill Baum, the group then divided into teams and headed out into the park to work on eight different projects. Volunteers spent the day brushing the Snow Lake and Pinnacle Peak trails; planting shrubs at the Paradise Visitor Center; planting 800 seedlings at Milepost 9, a site devastated by the flood of 2006; rebuilding a section of the Wonderland Trail above Longmire; and completing a trail bridge on the Kautz Creek trail. Boy Scout Troop 519 and a few others worked on restoring the Longmire Campground for use by volunteers next year.

One of the largest groups of volunteers worked on cleaning up Forest Service Road 59, on National Forest Service land west of the park. The most common question I was asked over the course of the day was, "why is the Park Service doing work on Forest Service land?" The answer, of course, is that conservation does not start or stop at park boundaries; the health of the forest around Mount Rainier National Park is critical to the health of its own ecosystems, and visitors as well as wildlife cross back and forth between them. The Park Service and the Forest Service are partners, not competitors, and we work closely with each other to ensure that all of our public lands are well-maintained. The crews on FS59 had their hands full pulling trash out of ditches and preparing it for Forest Service and Pierce County employees to haul away, including refrigerators, abandoned cars, and a collapsed camper trailer.

After the day's work, volunteers gathered at the Longmire Community Building for pizza and cake and a slide show of volunteers in action throughout the year. Look for a copy of the slide show in a separate post. Meanwhile, here's a sample of some of the photos I've received so far from National Public Lands Day 2008. To all who participated, thank you! And it's not too soon to mark your calendars for next year: NPLD 2009 will be September 26, 2009.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Make sure to enter the photo contest on