Tuesday, September 23, 2008

National Public Lands Day to cap another successful volunteer season at Mount Rainier

For Immediate Release

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

On National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 27, 2008, a hundred volunteers will assemble at Mount Rainier National Park to rebuild and repair trails and trail bridges, plant native seeds and trees, and restore a historic campground. The work day will cap a highly successful season in which more than a thousand volunteers contributed to the protection of the park’s natural and cultural treasures and helped serve its visitors.

National Public Lands Day is an annual celebration of public involvement in the stewardship of America’s national, state, and local parks and forests. More than 120,000 individuals are expected to participate in events all over the country. In recognition of this, entrance fees have been waived at all national parks. Volunteers will receive an additional coupon for free admission on a day of their choice. September 28 has also been designated a fee-free day at national parks, in honor of newly naturalized American Citizens.

At Mount Rainier, volunteers will gather at the Longmire Museum at 9:00 a.m. Teams under the direction of crew leaders from the Student Conservation Association will finish building a trail bridge near Kautz Creek, plant native seedlings along flood-damaged sections of the park road and around the new visitor center at Paradise, help rebuild a damaged section of the Wonderland Trail, and restore the historic Longmire Campground for use by future volunteers. The Washington Trails Association will lead a massive effort to rebuild the Glacier Basin Trail, which was obliterated by flooding two years ago. Volunteers will also help with projects in neighboring National Forest land, brushing the trail to Glacier Peak Lookout and cleaning up campsites along Skate Creek Road. Projects will be available for all ages and levels of physical ability.

After the work day, volunteers will gather for pizza, cake, and a slide show of volunteers in action in the park’s Community Building.

A coalition of nonprofit organizations and corporations has supported volunteer efforts at Mount Rainier throughout the summer. The Student Conservation Association’s Mount Rainier Recovery Corps, supported by a major grant from Boeing, has trained and led hundreds of new volunteers on projects ranging from general maintenance to flood reconstruction. The National Parks Conservation Association has led efforts to increase public awareness and understanding of issues facing our parks, including climate change and increased dangers from flooding. The Washington Trails Association and its members have worked hard to rebuild and repair storm-damaged trails throughout the state. Washington’s National Park Fund has supported flood recovery and volunteer efforts through fundraising. Corporations including REI, Starbucks, and Outdoor Research have contributed with both financial and on-the-ground volunteer support. Hundreds of individuals and dozens of groups have invested their time and sweat, in partnership with park employees, to build and patrol trails, assist and educate visitors, plant native plants, remove invasive species, maintain backcountry campsites, catalogue historic records, and conduct research.

Last year, 1724 volunteers contributed 84,038 hours of service at Mount Rainier, an effort valued at $1.6 million. The park’s volunteers and managers received three awards this spring: the Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award, the National Park Service’s George Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, and Take Pride in America’s Federal Land Manager’s Award.

Individuals may still register to help with National Public Lands Day, as well as many other projects extending into October. Up to date information, a calendar of activities, and lots of pictures of volunteers in action may be found on Mount Rainier National Park’s website at www.nps.gov/mora, or on its volunteer program blog at rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com.

- NPS -

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