One of the cool things about working at a place like Mount Rainier National Park is that I get to learn the meaning of terms like "fluvial geomorphologist" (someone who studies the changing landscapes along glacially-fed rivers). The geomorphologist at Mount Rainier is Paul Kennard, who, as you can imagine, has had his hands full with all kinds of fun projects since the flood of November 2006.
He's worked with several volunteers in these efforts, both before and after the flood--mostly graduate students in geology who've helped him conduct research. I directed part of our modest volunteer program budget his way this spring to help pay for gear and supplies. I received this follow-up today, which will give you a sense for what this important program has been accomplishing:
I want to thank the VIP Program for its invaluable support to my summer field effort. The funding supported 3 projects:Paul will almost certainly continue working with student volunteers in the future, so if anyone out there reading this thinks this would just be the most awesome summer project ever, please send me a note and I'll put you in contact with Paul.
1) Identifying the initiation mechanisms of debris flows that have been wreaking havoc on park infrastructure;
2) Identifying the extent and status of Rainier glaciers (for glacier outburst flood potential); and
3) re-surveying cross sections to estimate river aggradation.
All require extensive work in difficult backcountry conditions, and we could not have been successful without VIP equipment funds.