Monday, December 28, 2009

Spring Meadow Rover Breakfast set for May 8

From Amy Mann, here's the first notice for our Spring Meadow Rover Potluck, a tradition started a few years ago by some of the park's Meadow Rover volunteers. It's not too early to put this on your calendar! It's a great event for meeting other volunteers, catching up with old friends after the long winter, or learning about the park's volunteer (and specifically meadow rover) programs if you're new.

May 8, Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Potluck Brunch hosted by the Tacoma Branch Hiking & Backpacking Committee and the Mount Rainier Volunteers-in-Park (VIPs), at the Tacoma Mountaineers clubhouse, 2302 N. 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403. All Mountaineers members, as well as non-members, are welcome to attend this event to find out about volunteering at Mount Rainier National Park and to help the Park VIPs kick off the 2009 Meadow Roving season. There are a number of Tacoma Mountaineers who volunteer at Sunrise during the summer, as well as other Mountaineers who volunteer at Paradise and in the backcountry on a year-round basis. Opportunities at the Park abound - check out the volunteer opportunities listed on the Park website,, and at the VIP blog at  It's a terrific "job"! If you have just a couple of days a month (weekends or weekdays) there is something for you to do at Mount Rainier National Park. If you've done all the trail maintenance and rebuilding that your body can handle, meadow roving might be just the ticket to get you out and let you give something back to the Park.

Bring something yummy to share for brunch. We'll plan to start serving food at 9:30 a.m. Doors will be open by 8:00 a.m. if you want to come early to slip your treat into the oven to heat it up. Coffee, tea, juice, tableware will be provided. Questions or for directions, contact Carol Berry,, 253-845-9297, Amy Mann,, 253-759-2796, or Martha Scoville,, 253-752-5014.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Calling All Summer and Long-term Interns!

We've just submitted a whole host of requests from the Student Conservation Association for interns during the 2010 season. If you're looking for an opportunity to get your foot in the door with some very exciting programs, here's your chance! These internships range from 12 weeks to 8 months in length, and encompass the whole range of activities at Mount Rainier National Park. I'll post links to the specific position announcements as they are added to SCA's database, but some of these are too new to be on the site yet. Follow this link to search for positions with the keyword of "Rainier" in the description: that should capture the whole list! Meanwhile, here's a summary of what we've requested so far:

Camping Adventures Assistant (link pending): Help lead five "Camping Adventures with My Parents" (CAMP) programs, providing introductory camping experiences to diverse families from the Seattle and Tacoma urban areas! This 12-week position will begin around June 7.

Citizen Science Coordinator: Recruit, train, and lead citizen volunteers on projects in the park's wilderness, including amphibian surveys, wetland mapping, and soundscape monitoring! This is a 12-week position starting about June 28.

Meadow Rover Manager (link pending): Help manage the popular Meadow Rover program at Paradise, whose participants patrol and mark trails, educate visitors, and protect the beautiful subalpine meadows by keeping visitors on the trails. We hope to hire a 6 month intern beginning mid-April.

Preventative Search and Rescue Ranger: Patrol the trails above Paradise, assisting hikers and maintaining trails. Help with search and rescue events, but through education, try to prevent them! This 12-week position begins approximately May 23.

Restoration Interns: Serve on the park's revegetation crews planting native plants at sites around Paradise. You'll be working alongside a lot of volunteers! These 12-week positions will begin around June 7.

Trails Volunteer Coordinator (link pending): Work with the park's trail crew to repair and rebuild trails all over the park, and help recruit, train, and lead volunteer groups to help. Past volunteer work crews have included employee organizations, church groups, Boy Scouts, and environmental clubs. This 16-week position begins about May 17.

Urban Outreach Assistant (link pending): Help plan and organize this summer's urban outreach program at Mount Rainier, including the new and exciting "Camping Adventures with My Parents" (CAMP) program. Build partnerships, recruit and train participants, and organize 3-day camping experiences for families who've never been camping before! This will be as much as an 8-month position beginning in early February.

Visitor Services Interns (Ohanapecosh and Paradise): Work alongside Mount Rainier's interpretive rangers, staffing visitor centers and leading interpretive walks and talks! These 12-week positions begin May 24.

Volunteer Coordinator Intern: Help lead Mount Rainier's growing volunteer program, which last summer worked with 1,865 people! For those of you who've been following the blog and saw the many postings by Nick Abel, this is the readvertisement of his position. The 6-month position begins around May 3.

One caveat on all of these positions: most, so far, do not have confirmed funding, though all of them stand a good chance of being funded one way or another. Don't wait to apply!

If you're a geology student, don't miss the possibility of applying for Geoscientist-in-Parks positions, for which the Geologic Society of America is now accepting applications for a brief period. And watch for other SCA positions to be announced as well. Other positions we're considering include a long-term Education Internship; a Living History Coordinator; a Maintenance Volunteer Coordinator; a Safety Intern; and high school crews through SCA's Conservation Leadership Corps. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mount Rainier volunteer wins National Public Lands Day photo contest!

Two photo awards for Mount Rainier volunteers in one week--is this the beginning of a trend?

The winners of the National Public Lands Day photo contest have just been announced, and for the second year in a row, one of the winners is a photo taken at Mount Rainier. This year's winning photo was captured by Bob Davies, advisor for the Boy Scouts' Order of the Arrow and local T'Kope Kwiskwis Lodge 502. His Scouts helped build a new section of the Glacier Basin Trail, in partnership with the park's trail crew and a team from the Washington Trails Association. The local "Arrow Corps 502" plans to return next year with an even larger group to help with projects all over the park, and is planning for a major volunteer effort at the park in 2011.

Good work, Arrow Corps Scouts, and congratulations, Bob Davies!

To see Bob's winning photo and the other six winners of this nationwide contest, go to the website of This summer, 223 volunteers participated in projects all over Mount Rainier National Park. Next year's National Public Lands Day will be September 25, 2010.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Operations Training December 14

For those who will be volunteering this winter and are interested in Winter Operations Training, details have been posted on our volunteer discussion group at The training will be all day on Monday, December 14. Hope to see some of you there!

A winter volunteer assignment and an RSVP are required.

Mount Rainier volunteer photographer wins Olympus Photo Contest!

Congratulations to John Chao, who has been taking photographs as a volunteer at Mount Rainier for several years, and whose photograph has been selected as one of fifty winners of the Natural Resource Program Center's Olympus Photo Contest! John's photo, of volunteers working on trail reconstruction in 2007 under the direction of the Student Conservation Association's Mount Rainier Recovery Corps, was selected from more than 700 entries, and wins for our volunteer program a brand new Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 (waterproof, shock proof and freeze proof) camera!

For more information about the contest, and to see all fifty of the winning photographs, go to John Chao's photographs can also been enjoyed at and

Winter volunteer opportunities

Yes, it's that time of year again! I'm starting to get inquiries about what opportunities might be available for volunteering at Mount Rainier National Park during the winter months--which up here in the mountains means roughly November through May. Unfortunately, there aren't many such opportunities. But there are a few. Here's a quick summary:

- Nordic Patrol. We work in partnership with the Washington Ski Touring Club to provide ski patrol services at Paradise, including marking trail routes and assisting visitors. This requires a very dedicated and spirited kind of volunteer, but those who contribute provide an invaluable service. People interested in this opportunity should contact WSTC directly at, as we work with the group, not with individuals. If you have questions about ski patrol at Mount Rainier, contact Daniel Camiccia at 360-569-2211 ext. 3419.

- Visitor center and snowshoe walks. Most of the work in our visitor centers, and on the trails leading snowshoe walks, is done by our permanent and seasonal staff. However, there are always busy times like the Christmas holidays when we're short staffed and welcome the help of volunteers. Anyone interested in these opportunities should contact us well in advance of the winter season so that they can participate in our winter seasonal training in early December. In other words, if you're interested this year, now is the time to contact our West District Interpreter, Lee Snook, to express your interest. Her number is 360-569-6043.

- Greenhouse assistance. Our greenhouse is active throughout the winter, and we're always open to working with volunteers who are willing to commit to coming out on a regular basis to help us weed, pot, and care for our plants, most of which will be used on revegetation projects during the summer. We especially need help in the spring as we're gearing up for the season. For more information, see our listing on, or contact Josh Drown at 360-569-6170.

- Curatorial library. Brooke Childrey, our museum curator, works with many volunteers to sort and store our archives, photos, and historic artifacts collections. Our full-time curator positions are filled for this winter already, but there may still be possibilities for the right person to help with special projects on an intermittent basis. Call Brook at 360-569-2211 ext. 2366.

- Education program. Our curriculum-based education program works with many school groups in the spring and fall, and also has a number of curriculum-development projects underway. We're always looking for individuals who have educational background and experience to help out. For more information, contact Fawn Bauer at 360-569-6037.

All of these opportunities, as well as the summer positions we're already recruiting for, are posted on our NPS website at

By the way, as you may know, during the summer we provide free camping for people who volunteer in the park. In the winter that's also true--but much colder! So, during the winter we also keep an apartment warm and stocked with basic supplies for use by working volunteers. If you are able to arrange an intermittent winter volunteer position, contact me to ask about using the volunteer apartment. My number is 360-569-2211 ext. 3385.

Summer positions will be coming soon! Watch the list in the right-hand column and on the NPS website for positions we're currently recruiting, including student internships, volunteer coordinators, campground hosts, group opportunities, and many more. If you'd like to get on our mailing list, just send me an e-mail. And watch this blog for late-breaking updates!

Lower elevation opportunities: While we're under heavy snow for half the year, many of our partners work at lower elevation under the snowline. Consider volunteering with them through the winter! The Washington Trails Association, for example, has a long list of volunteer projects. Olympic National Park has land as low as sea level, and their annual Coast Cleanup is legendary. Or, check out the websites of the National Parks Conservation Association, Washington's National Park Fund, or The Mountaineers. You can also find great opportunities throughout the region on the websites and

Wherever you contribute, thanks for your time!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The goal: Nearly $350,000 for parks

The goal: Nearly $350,000 for parks The News Tribune

Washington's National Park Fund seeks to raise $350,000 to support projects at Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks, including youth programs, outreach, and volunteerism. For the person who has everything, consider supporting a good cause on their behalf!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Investing in communities and long-term stewardship

In 2008, Washington’s National Park Fund raised $50,000 to support flood recovery and volunteerism at Mount Rainier National Park. This summer, those funds were used to support three teams of high school volunteers through the Student Conservation Association’s Conservation Leadership Corps. Some of the funding also allowed us to hire a six-month SCA intern, Nick Abel, who served at the program’s right hand man throughout the busy summer season.

Mount Rainier’s partnership with SCA has been a long and productive one. Interns have served here for more than forty years, and the Conservation Leadership Corps (CLCs) have been an important part of our volunteer program in recent years. Seattle’s CLC recruits make up a diverse cross-section of students from the city and its surrounding communities. Some serve intermittently on projects near home, venturing out to the Mountain only for special events like National Public Lands Day. Others—the ones funded by the grant from the Fund—serve on 15-day full-time work crews, living and working as a team at Mount Rainier National Park, usually in groups of six to eight with a pair of crew leaders.

This year’s crews served throughout July and August. The first served with our revegetation program at Paradise, landscaping native plants in the construction footprint around the new Jackson Visitor Center. Over the course of 11 work days, each crew member planted more than a thousand plants, representing 25 different native species.

The second CLC team worked with our trail crew. Most of their work was along the South Puyallup Trail, filling in about a thousand feet of washed-out trail. They cut back overgrown brush, cleaned drains, and performed general maintenance along the St. George and Goat Lake Trails.

Team number three completed the work begun by team two along the South Puyallup Trail. They installed seven rock check-steps and two drainage turnpikes. On the North Puyallup Trail, the crew performed general maintenance including brushing 600 feet of trail. They twice hauled decking three miles into the backcountry for use by NPS trail crews.

The statistics are impressive: yards of trail built and repaired, miles walked, plants planted. More important, in the long run, are the experiences of the program’s participants. For two weeks, they practice new skills, contribute to the stewardship of their national park, and learn leadership. Many of these students return for more, serving on other crews or in other internship positions. Many are eventually hired as students to seasonal positions in the parks, and some go on to pursue careers. A significant number of today’s career National Park Service rangers began as volunteers, as I did, or as interns through the Student Conservation Association, as did our own Chief of Interpretation and Education, Lee Taylor. Three years ago, one of the first Flood Recovery CLC interns was Jaya Ghosh, who went on to serve in leadership positions with SCA and this summer worked as a ranger at North Cascades. The CLC program opens doors for a diverse group of young people, and we are proud to be part of it.

We hope that CLC crews will be at Mount Rainier again in 2010. We are in the process of writing grants to support their return.

In addition to the three CLC crews, the Fund’s grant also allowed us to hire Nick Abel, a college student from Sammamish, Washington, who helped manage our volunteer program through the busy summer months of May through October. His support was invaluable. This year, for the first time in three years, we did not have a “Flood Recovery Corps” in the park, helping us to recruit volunteers and lead volunteer projects. Instead, we hired three interns to work within the plant ecology, citizen science, and trails programs to help work with volunteers, and we hired Nick to help oversee the program.

IMG_9295_2Nick came to our program without any experience in volunteer program management—but he learned rapidly, and was soon fielding questions and making decisions like a pro. By the end of summer, he was creating volunteer projects on his own and shepherding volunteers and volunteer groups into them. Groups like REI Adventures, Pathfinder Middle School, MEAD Alternative High School, and others came to the park to help with revegetation, trail maintenance, and campground restoration projects. On National Public Lands Day, 223 people helped with projects parkwide. Continuing the good work of the Recovery Corps before him, Nick helped raise the number of volunteers who worked in the park this year from 1,837 to 1,865, and the total number of hours they contributed from 70,130 to 72,231, including the hours invested by three CLC crews.

All told, this is a volunteer effort financially worth more than $1.4 million, and that doesn’t count the long-term influence our programs have had in the lives of the young people involved. Not a bad return on an investment of $50,000, and to those who contributed through Washington’s National Park Fund, we say thank you!

The Fund continues to raise support for projects at all of Washington’s National Parks, including Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympics. They’ve dedicated $18,800 to continue our practice of hiring SCA interns to help recruit, train, and lead volunteers in programs throughout the park. They’re raising money to support the continuation of our Camping Adventure with My Parents urban outreach program. They just accepted $75,000 from Boeing to support energy efficiency and green transportation initiatives at Mount Rainier. And there are many other good projects in their catalog, too. We thank the Fund for their support, and to all who help by contributing, we thank you as well.

Full-resolution photos of this year's CLC crew can be found here. Photos from CLC crews over the past three years can be found here. A documentary by KCTS public television, watchable online, featured members of the first CLC program at Mount Rainier this summer.

Monday, November 16, 2009


FYI, we're now on Twitter! Follow our Twitter feed in the right-hand column, or sign up to receive our tweets directly! (Was that less than 140 characters?)

Scouting leadership group discusses possible major partnership in 2011

On Friday, I had a very energizing meeting with Mathew Allyn and Evan Skandalis, two members of the Boy Scouts of America's leadership group, the Order of the Arrow. They were joined by advisors Bob Davies and Barbara Sher. Together, we discussed plans for a possible major partnership in 2011, one that would bring older scouts (ages 17-25) to Mount Rainier for volunteer projects, potentially in large numbers.

This is not an unprecedented possibility. The group last year organized five projects on five different national forests, called "ArrowCorps5." All told, it was the largest organized service project in Forest Service history, contributing a staggering 280,000 work hours nationwide. (A great video about this effort is available online as a 93mb download.)

Obviously, our piece of that legacy would be smaller. But through partnerships with groups like the Washington Trails Association, by expanding the program beyond park boundaries into adjacent national forest land, and by focusing on trail work as only one of many possible projects, the contribution to Mount Rainier could be significant to say the least.

We'll spend the next year looking for grant opportunities to support this effort, developing our partnerships, and planning service projects. Stay tuned.

For more information about the next generation of ArrowCorps5, visit their website at or contact Bob Davies at the Boy Scouts' Chief Seattle Council #609.

Digging for answers at Mount Rainier

The News Tribune this weekend reports on some remarkable archeological discoveries at Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks.

A dig near Cascade Pass in North Cascades National Park has revealed evidence that humans used the area 9,600 years ago. At Mount Rainier National Park, a site on the northern slope of the mountain has produced artifacts dating back 7,600 years.
This is significant because until recently--as recently as when I was working at Mount Rainier as a seasonal ranger in the mid 1990s--the "official" understanding was that the native people seldom ventured onto the "Mountain that was God." How naive we were!

Archeologist Greg Burtchard started testing this hypothesis more than a decade ago now, applying actual science to our previously untested assumptions. He promptly found evidence of regular human presence all over the park, and the date of our oldest artifacts has steadily retreated farther and farther into the past as we've dug deeper into the layers of volcanic ash that blanket the mountain.

The work is highly specialized, but it has been assisted by volunteers now and then, most notably student archeologists from Pacific Lutheran University. Through their efforts, our understanding of the long, rich and complex human relationship with Mount Rainier is coming into sharper focus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Volunteers needed November 15 near north entrance

There aren't many opportunities to volunteer in Mount Rainier National Park this time of year, as snow is rapidly accumulating and roads are closing for the winter. But that doesn't mean there aren't good opportunities nearby! Here's a late-breaking need on Forest Service land just north of the park (forwarded verbatim):

Volunteers Needed Nov 15 - Orchard fence

I'm looking for a handful of volunteers who can help set 165 fence posts in our Forest Service seed orchard located off of SR410 between Enumclaw and Mt. Rainier Nat. Park. The workday is this coming Sunday, Nov 15.

The new fence line will eventually help expose more graze and browse to deer and elk that winter in the White River basin. We will only be setting posts. The fencing material will be moved from the old location to the new location next spring. . The orchard gate will be open at 8 am. Folks can let them selves in. I will have someone at the orchard office to give directions to the work site. This is short notice, but I didn't know when my contractor would complete the digging until last week. The orchard compound is equipped with a toilet and shelter, if needed, to get respite from inclement weather. Workers should bring good rain gear, boots, gloves, food and drink, and their favorite shovel.

After COB today, I will be out of the office until next Monday. But prospective volunteers can call me at: 253-678-7068 for more information and directions to the orchard. My contact email is:

Wildlife Biologist
office: 425-888-1421x221

Friday, October 30, 2009

Volunteer Numbers Exceed Last Year!

Wow, what a year it's been. Between restoring Longmire Campground for the exclusive use of volunteers (that ones been a lifesaver), and organizing volunteers for everything from National Public Lands Day to Lantern Bearers for Shadows of the Past, we've really outdone ourselves, and the number show it.

The Official Volunteer Statistics for Fiscal Year 2009 are as follows:

Annual Activity and Expense Report
Mount Rainier National Park
Report Date: Oct 29, 2009
Fiscal Year: 2009


Volunteer Coordinator and Park Information


Total Volunteers: 1,865 (up from 1,837 last year, a new record!)
Alpha Code: MORA
VIP Coordinator: Kevin Bacher
VIP Coordinator Phone: 360-569-2211
Coordinator Email:


Volunteer hours by category:


Administration: 610.00
Campground Host: 1,740.50
Cultural Resource Management: 4,031.00
General Management: 0.00
Interpretation: 17,016.50
Maintenance: 1,966.00
Natural Resource Management: 10,425.50
Protection/Operations/Law Enforcement: 35,928.75
Training: 513.00

[Total hours: 72,231.25] (up from 70,130 last year!)


Program costs by category:


Housing: $ 5,847.00
Meals: $ 9,295.00
Recognition/Award: $ 721.00
Supplies: $ 24,758.00
Training: $ 3,094.00
Transportation: $ 2,516.00
Uniforms: $ 736.00

[Total costs: $ 46,967.00]


Volunteer Program Highlight


This year was the first since Mount Rainier's great flood in November of 2006 that has not been directly supported by the Mount Rainier Recovery Corps, a partnership developed with the Student Conservation Association to recruit volunteers and lead recovery efforts. Instead, the volunteer program built on the partnerships developed during that era and the lessons learned to create new opportunities, including a major trail construction project at Glacier Basin led by the Washington Trails Association that brought almost 500 volunteers into the park. Four SCA interns were hired to serve as volunteer coordinators in key programs including trails, plant ecology, citizen science, and volunteer management, and a fifth volunteer was hired directly to help with the meadow rover program at Sunrise. All of these strategies combined to keep participation high despite the receeding urgency of flood recovery. On National Public Lands Day, 223 volunteers participated park-wide, a new record; volunteer hours were up from last year; and for the whole year, our total number of volunteers set a new record as well. We also re-opened the historic Longmire Campground this year, restored by volunteers for the exclusive use of volunteers and other park groups, and managed by a pair of campground hosts; this was a tremendous asset for volunteers who wished to stay for multiple days.




How many people at the park require VIP Program Management Training: 7


Optional Information Regarding Housing VIPs and Campground Hosts


Number of Campground Hosts: 5
Number of VIPs housed in Permanent Structures: 53
Number of VIPs housed in Trailers: 7

Trailer Pads for Volunteers: 7


Other Information


Number of SCAs: 13
SCA Hours: 11,859
Number of Artists in Parks: 0
Artist in Parks Hours: 0
Number of International VIPs: 6
International VIPS Hours: 550
Number of Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps: 0
Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps Hours: 0
Number of Boy Scouts: 74
Boy Scout Hours: 524
Number of Girls Scouts: 0
Girl Scout Hours: 0

What a year! As you can see we're steadily improving our volunteer program, and with each improvement, more opportunities for volunteering arise. Just remember, we couldn't do it without the dedicated support of volunteers like you. Congratulate yourself on a year done well, and remember to come back next year.

Hope to see you then.

Friday, October 23, 2009

WTA Volunteers forge ahead at Glacier Basin

"Although much of the Glacier Basin Trail reroute at Mount Rainier National Park has been completed, it won’t be until next season that the work is finally done."

Thus begins a nice article in the News Tribune yesterday, which properly attributes much of the work that has been done on this major flood recovery project to volunteers who have worked in partnership with the National Park Service and the Washington Trails Association.

WTA's efforts have been a major asset at Mount Rainier over the past three years, especially on the Glacier Basin project. Our records show 496 WTA volunteers in the park this summer, who contributed 5,292 hours of service, not counting travel time. Both of those are record numbers: even in 2007, the year following our big flood, WTA's work totalled a mere 4,971 hours; and last year, the previous record year for volunteer participation, only 336 volunteers participated.

We're still compiling the final numbers for our program this year, but there's no question that WTA will be responsible for a large percentage of our total volunteer hours, and an even larger percentage of our total numbers.

WTA's efforts are made possible, of course, by hundreds of individual volunteers; but they are also supported by major grants from Boeing Corporation, which has committed $60,000 to WTA in 2010. Their support is also invaluable! (Individual donations are also welcome.)

We look forward to continuing these productive partnerships at least through 2010, so keep an eye on the WTA website next spring to find more opportunities to participate. There are few things more rewarding that building a trail that will be used for generations to come!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Sunrise 2009 Stats

Good news from Sunrise. Julia Pinnix sent me some really awesome statistics on volunteers at Sunrise. They're some cool figures if you break them down, and they say some awesome things about our volunteers.

2009 Sunrise Meadow Rover Statistics:

51 VIPs contacted 10, 541 visitors at Sunrise this summer!!!
Of the 51 VIPs, 20 came only once to Sunrise.

Five volunteers totaled 3,417 contacts at Sunrise. Meaning that of 51 VIP, less than a tenth made more than thirty percent of the visitor contacts! Those are some dedicated volunteers.

· David Howerton spent 255 hours, contacted 1,575 visitors!!
· Gary Knudson and Martha Scoville spent 166.5 hours each and contacted 883 visitors!
· Pete Sabin spent 126 hours, contacted 444 visitors!
· Dan Purnell spent 107.5 hours, contacted 515 visitors!

These folks truly deserve recognition for their work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Season-in-Review: WTA Crew Forge New Trail

Kevin passed this article along to me, and o-man, is it deserved. The Washington Trails Association has had work parties in the park (this is a rough estimate) nearly every week for the past four months. Often time it has been the same dedicated individuals coming back time and time again to work. We're talking about super volunteers here. So read on friends, and be amazed at how much work was done.

WTA Crews Forge New Trail for Climbers and Families at Mount Rainier

As the summer hiking season has come to a close, so too have some of our summer season's trail projects. In September, WTA trail crews wrapped up a summer of hard work on our single biggest project of the year, the Glacier Basin Trail reroute at Mount Rainier National Park.

Is the project completed? Not quite. About 5,000 feet of new trail has been constructed, a stretch that lies directly uphill from the stretch of trail that was heavily damaged in the now historic flooding of late 2006. Since the project began in 2008, WTA has hosted more than 68 work parties with over 186 individual volunteers contributing more than 7,000 hours of manual labor. These volunteers experience all that goes in to building new trail: clearing the corridor of blowdown and duff (organic material), removing stumps and rocks, constructing structures such as rock walls and fords - ultimately creating a solid and sustainable tread. WTA's involvement in the Glacier Basin reroute was made possible in part by a generous grant from The Boeing Company and financial contributions from hikers like you.

Hikers have not been introduced to this new route yet; the ends were intentionally left unfinished, and will be knitted together with the existing trail early next season. You are still welcome to visit the Glacier Basin Trail, however-- a temporary path has been sketched out near the riverbed in the floodplain (see this August 13 trip report for details.)

According to Carl Fabiani, Mount Rainier National Park's trail programs coordinator, a full season of work lies ahead before we can call this project done. "This fall, we have a lot of rock to remove." Blasting operations began the week after Labor Day. "Next year, another 2,000 feet of new trail will be built." In all, the Glacier Basin reroute involves a mile and a half of new trail construction.

You can also help by making a financial contribution to WTA. Give now to support the Glacier Basin reroute and dozens of other trail projects this fall.

Truly magnificent. 7,000 hour and 5,000 feet is no small feat (pun intended). Seriously though, a round of applause for the WTA.

At Mount Rainier National Park, it's groups like the WTA who form a solid backbone for our volunteer program. Groups that come back year after year, whose ability to work independently and proven track record mean that they get the job done quickly and efficiently, these are the groups we rely on most of all. Working with the WTA, Carl can rest assured that a major project will be handled, letting his crew fix everything else in the park. If we didn't have the WTA to work with, I question whether projects could be done in the time they're done now. So lets be thankful we have organization like the WTA to work with.

And if you're ever interested, I encourage you to join the WTA on a work party or two. See what you think, and more likely than not you'll be hooked.

I'll meet you on the trail,


Thursday, October 8, 2009

High School and REI - Oh My! (Part 2)

Hello again, I’m back for part two of my blog post. As you many remember, in my previous post, I talked about the closing of the season at Mount Rainier National Park, the steadily changing weather, and the two volunteer groups that visited the park last week. Volunteers from MEAD Alternative High School and volunteers from REI Adventures joined Will Arnesen and his Revegetation team in sprucing up the newly renovated Paradise Lower Parking Lot.

REI Adventures is based out of the REI Headquarters in Kent, Washington. They organize and run wilderness adventures of all types: from sea kayaking to mountain climbing. REI volunteer groups of all sizes and types have been coming to the park for years. In fact, REI played an important role in help clean up the park after the 2006 floods. They’re no strangers to volunteer work at Mount Rainier.

Of all the groups that have come into the park so far, REI Adventures has excited me the most, if only because I helped coordinate the group from the start. The REI Adventure project has been a long time in the making, and when so often we fly by the seat of our pants, it’s refreshing to have a project that has bee growing and changing for several months. To have a successful project come to fruition is a good feeling.

And how successful it was! A good indicator of the success of a group volunteer event is how many group members attend. Together, more than thirty individuals from REI attended. A full group is always good news, but when individual volunteers, unaffiliated with any group, come to join you know you have done even better. And a number of dedicated individual volunteers did indeed come and helped out with the planting. I don’t have the final numbers yet, but between REI Adventures and our individual volunteers, over 40 volunteer were at Paradise.

Even the weather didn’t deter these hardy folks. While this photographer admits to running back to the car every ten minutes to warm up, the REI volunteer braved cold and snow to get the Job done.

Last weekend was perhaps the last great group volunteer event of the season. Our last big hurrah before snow covers the park. And I think REI did it justice. I'm glad they came down, and more than that I'm happy with the entire program. I feel so privileged that I was able to take part in a volunteer program as great as the one at Mount Rainier.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More National Public Lands Day photos

I just received a set of photos from Eas and Kala Easwaran, two of our "official" volunteer photographers, who captured some great images from National Public Lands Day. Here's a slideshow of their images; if you want to look at them individually, you can check them out on our Picasa page.

Thank you, planters!!

Sounds like last weekend was another successful one at Paradise for the planting crews. I got this note from Restoration Ecologist Will Arnesen:

Last weekend was once again very successful. Weather was pretty harsh but we had an awesome set of volunteers who weathered out the day until near 4:00 PM. The end result was alot of happy volunteers and about 10,000 plants put into the ground. It was a great day, in spite of the weather.
Our goal was to plant 130,000 plants in a single month, and with the help of hundreds of individual and group volunteers, we are now within reach of achieving that goal by the end of our regular park planting crew's season. It is a huge understatement to say that that would NOT have been possible without the help of our dedicated volunteers. THANK YOU!

And be sure to come back next summer to check out how natural the landscaping at the lower parking lot looks thanks to your efforts!

High School and REI - Oh My! (Part 1)

The season is almost over, and the volunteer program is wrapping up. The groups are gone, tents come down, campgrounds are closing, and the paperwork is piling up (mainly due to me). We write reports, organize folders - all that fun administrative stuff. If I'm lucky (and productive) I manage to write a blog post. To some it may seem that we go out with a slight shuffling of paper, not even making a whimper.

Not at all!

We in the volunteer program love to go out with a bang, and what a bang it was when just this past week we had not one, but two large volunteer groups out to the park. Last week we were delighted to have both MEAD Alternative High School hailing from Spokane, Washington and REI Adventures from Kent, Washington join us in the park.

Mead Alternative has been a partner with the park for many years, making the long drive to Mount Rainier every season for a week long volunteer field trip. What they do varies from year to year, but this year the name of the game was reveg.

MEAD Alternative High School has been coming to the park for well over ten years now, and always brings a large crew with them. A group of thirty people, including teachers and adult chaperone's, joined Will Arnesen and his revegetation crew in helping to restore the lower Paradise parking lot. They stayed for an entire week, and put a much needed dent in the seemingly inexhaustible supply of plant from the greenhouse, all needing to go into the ground before snow renders the ground unreachable.

The weather for most of the week was horrible. Cold, foggy, and alternating between soggy and a light snow. Yet the students were enthusiastic, willing to work, and (though not always happy about the weather) happy to be helping. Nothing can quite exhaust a person and yet leave them pleased at the same time like working with their hands can.

MEAD High School’s connection to Mount Rainier runs deep. Year after year they come back, but more than that, judging from a picture sent to me, they never really leave. After returning home the group leader, Carol Allen, kindly provided me with this picture of a beautiful mural of Mount Rainier they have at school.

So thanks to MEAD Alternative High School for helping out. And tune in next time for pictures and info from our volunteer friends at REI Adventures. Till we meet again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Volunteers urgently needed to help move Olympic NP Greenhouse

As we move into our fall season, volunteer opportunities at Mount Rainier are rapidly dwindling. Not so for some of our lower-elevation neighbors, however! I got a call from Maggie Tyler this morning, my volunteer coordinator counterpart at Olympic National Park, which, as you know is almost as extraordinary a park as Mount Rainier!

All kidding aside, Olympic (and Klondike Goldrush National Historical Park as well as the non-NPS sites in the Puget Sound region) are great places to contribute when our own trails are covered by snow. And the need for volunteers at these sites can be just as great as our own.

Here, then, is a great introductory volunteer opportunity at Olympic that meets a need as urgent as our own planting program at Paradise has been these last few weeks:

Olympic National Park will be hosting an open house on October 22 at our new facility at Robin Hill Park, located in Sequim, Washington. To get ready for this long awaited event we will be preparing our plants and supplies for the move over the next few weeks. We are looking for interested volunteers to move our greenhouse operation from our old location in Port Angeles to our new location in Robin Hill Park. We will be holding an orientation for all interested on October 7th at 10:00 A.M. at our current greenhouse in Port Angeles. Anyone interested in attending can contact me for directions either at the phone number below or at my email address, Volunteers should dress for any weather since they may be working out doors.

I know the 7th is short turn around time, but we will be very busy over the next few weeks. If folks can't join us on the 7th, they can still call me for additional times and dates they are available. If we have someone working in the greenhouse, they are welcome to join us.

Second Century Commission releases recommendations for the National Parks

This was actually released a week and a half ago, but I just came across it today. The report, created by a panel of experts including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, is engrossing reading for anyone who cares about the future of the National Park System. Here's the full press release, with a link to the report itself. Volunteers are specifically addressed on page 31:

People who participate in service to the national parks gain a sense of pride and ownership that lasts a lifetime. Discovering firsthand that they can be agents of positive change for their communities and for the environment, they become the informed and engaged citizens our country so urgently needs.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today [September 24] commended the members of the National Parks Second Century Commission for their report on the future of the National Park System, which includes a wide range of recommendations for enhancing all aspects of our national parks.

“I applaud the commission for leaving no stone unturned in seeking ways to enhance our National Park System so that we might better honor our nation’s beauty, history and culture, conserve our treasured landscapes and their wildlife, and both inform and inspire the American people,” Salazar said. “The report provides a foundation upon which to build an even brighter future for our already outstanding national parks.”

The National Parks Conservation Association convened the commission, chaired by former U.S. Senators Howard Baker and J. Bennett Johnston, to produce a comprehensive report on the park system as it nears its 100th anniversary in 2016 and begins a second century.

The commission consists of nearly 30 national leaders, experts and thinkers drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, including scientists, historians, conservationists, academics, business leaders, policy experts, and retired National Park Service officials.

In its report, entitled “Advancing the National Park Idea,” the panel said that the National Park System is at a crossroads, facing challenges such as urgent environmental problems, a burgeoning population and critical needs in education. It called for a new vision recognizing the interrelationships between human beings and the natural world and the need for a sustainable relationship between people and the planet.

The report also included recommendations to strengthen the educational role of the National Park System, including new partnerships with the formal education community.

“National parks are no longer just far away places where people go to visit,” Salazar said. “We now have nearly 400 national parks, many of them in or near cities. We have a major role in supporting local communities and especially in fueling a passion our young people for our natural and historical heritage that will help them build a better future for our country.”

The commission’s report is available on line at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Final tally: 223 volunteers on National Public Lands Day!

The numbers just keep pouring in! I finally have a complete tally of every event happening in the park on National Public Lands Day:

16 - Longmire Campground Restoration

8 - Bench Lake Trail
10 - Fourth Crossing Trail
151 - Paradise Planting

Glacier Basin
19 - Washington Trails Association
13 - Boy Scouts "Order of the Arrow"
6 - Other Boy Scouts

Grand total: 223 volunteers!! So far as I know, that's our biggest volunteer day ever. (Feel free to correct me if you know of anything bigger!)

Meanwhile, we've had MEAD Alternative High School [corrected] from Spokane, and Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School from Salem, Oregon, here planting this week, in spite of the cool, damp weather; and REI is coming in tomorrow. Saturday is another open planting day, so come on up and let's keep the momentum going!

Here's the report from Peter Dewell, WTA's volunteer crew leader at Glacier Basin:

"Well, we had some great National Park Rangers and crew to assist WTA in doing our work today. The loyal volunteers were Angela, Judy, Emma, Carol, Jim, Ed, Sue, Carl, Mike, Pete S, Elaine, Eric, Jim, Jane, Carla and Adam, along with great crew leaders, Micki, Lynn and Louise. Heck, with all this help and the National Park folks, who could lose. Well, we did not lose. First, there was the great work of removing stumps and roots just above a large rise in the trail - using rigging and muscle power, where Louise was involved. This area will need lots of work, but the hard work has been done. Next, a new switchback, with rock replacing duff and organic soil and proper insloping and outsloping, with protection of the turn - no trail cutters allowed here, with Lynn involved. Next up the trail was trail finishing and an upslope rock wall to hold the hill from slipping on the trail, with Micki involved. Finally, there were two rock projects uphill, with many rocks raising the trail to grade, in several places, plus a small rock retainer - to avoid (hopefully winter/spring runoff) and then a 20 foot long rock rock wall to support the new trail, just short of the current end, with lots of rock and mineral soil fill. These volunteers did great work and the National Park personnel provided great support and muscle power as well. Great job, well done. Thanks for coming out, and come out again, Pete Dewell."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October 3rd Paradise Reveg Info

This is the last notice about the Paradise Reveg on Saturday, Oct 3rd, and I wanted to make sure everyone had the information they needed to join us.

When: 9:00 AM on Saturday, October 3rd
Where: Lower Paradise Parking Lot, where the old visitor center was.
Bring: Gloves, warm clothes, food and water, some people also bring knee pads. Gardening tools are provided, but if you wish to bring your own, feel free.

You'll be joining employees from REI and the Reveg Crew, helping put a dent in the 130,000 plants that still must go in the ground before winter closes in. It'll be a lot of work, but we have the right volunteers for the job.

Even rain and snow won't stop this party. Will Arnesen, the reveg coordinator, has managed to obtain a large canopy to put over the work site. Now you can plant and stay dry at the same time. Very plush, but I'm still hoping for sunny, 76 degree weather.

Whatever the weather, I hope are able to make it to Paradise. This Saturday may be your last chance to help restore Paradise before the snow comes. So come up and join us on October 3rd and celebrate a great year at Mount Rainier.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Make that 180+ volunteers... and 29,500 plants!

We're still gathering statistics from National Public Lands Day, which is a little more complicated than usual this year because we had projects in three different locations (Longmire, Paradise, and Glacier Basin), and I'm still waiting for final numbers from the crew leaders. But I spoke with Will Arnesen at Paradise yesterday and he confirmed that at that site alone, 151 people had signed in, and that those 151 volunteers had planted 29,500 plants! Those are amazing numbers, folks! We've never had a volunteer project in the history of this park, so far as we know, that has attracted so many people all at once.

And if there were any project that needed that much effort, it was (is) the planting project at Paradise! We have a total of 130,000 plants to put into the ground this fall before snow drives us out of Paradise. We're obviously not going to accomplish that in one weekend, but we're also not going to manage it with only our full-time park planting crew. Together, we can get it done!

We have Middle School students coming up this week, if the weather doesn't drive them away, and REI employees next weekend. Saturday October 3 is an open planting day for anyone who wants to help! Will even has tents coming this week that will allow his crew--and any intrepid volunteers--to keep planting even if it snows. (It'll be in-tents!) We'll hope for weather as nice as last weekend. But if the weather's poor, dress warmly, bring hot cocoa, wear gloves--but still come. The plants have to get into the ground!

Meanwhile, THANK YOU to all of you who participated on National Public Lands Day. We had at least 30 people on the Bench Lake and Fourth Crossing trails and in the Longmire Campground, and probably a few dozen over at Glacier Basin, so that's more than 200 of you parkwide. You guys are awesome!

Monday, September 28, 2009

140+ National Public Lands Day volunteers on the west side!

National Public Lands Day 2009 was a huge success! We had around 140 volunteers working at Longmire and Paradise (final numbers are still being tallied), and I haven't heard from Glacier Basin yet, where at least another 30 volunteers had pre-registered. I'll write more with the details tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's a selection of photos from the event. THANK YOU to everyone who participated!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Other projects on National Public Lands Day

Mount Rainier National Park isn't the only local agency looking for volunteers on National Public Lands Day, this Saturday, September 26. Here's a summary in The News Tribune, including projects on local Forest Service and State DNR lands. If you can't make it to The Mountain, maybe you can help elsewhere!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Citizens Science a Sucess

As the season slows down and projects begin to end, pictures and reports start to trickle into the office, reminding us just how many volunteers there are in the park and how varied their work is.

Kevin and I recently received a year’s end report on the Citizen Science program, along with a bevy of pictures documenting the work over the past three months of Caitlin Kenny and fourteen volunteers in the program.

The Citizen Science program at Mount Rainier was a resounding success over the past three months. The Citizen Science program recruits and trains volunteers to help conduct scientific experiments and projects throughout the park. Led by Caitlin Kenny, a fellow intern through the Student Conservation Association, more than a dozen volunteers collected data on amphibian populations throughout the park. Working this summer and fall, from July into September, volunteers spent varying amount of time with the program, some working 8 hours, others more than 50 hours! With their help, Caitlin surveyed fifty sites at all corners of the park.

It’s good to hear about the success of the program, Citizen Science is one of my favorite volunteer opportunities here at the park. Where else can a grown adult go hunting around in lakes for frogs and salamanders like a little kid. But it’s not all fun and games. The work our Citizen Science volunteers do is extremely important and useful. They gather data from sites that the park doesn’t have the resources or people to survey, and all of this data helps us to understand the impact humans are having on the habitat of these animals. Using this data, we will make better, more informed decisions in the future.

Caitlin just finished up her internship and now she is off to bigger and better (hard to get better than Mt. Rainier) things. I want to recognize Caitlin Kenny for all the hard work she put into the program, and the incredible job she did coordinating volunteers. Not an easy task when you attention is also focused on collecting data and writing reports for our Natural Resource division. Caitlin rightly made volunteers her top priority in the program, but not just the regulars. She was always ready to work with the sudden school group, no matter how large or how unexpected. Her work with younger groups such as the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium was particularly appreciated.

And finally, I want to recognize and thank all the volunteers who participated in the Citizen Science program. Dave Purdon, Carol and Jim Miltimore (who are involved in everything park-volunteer related), Melanie Wisdom and everyone was a huge help. It’s because of you that programs like this are so successful. Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

National Public Lands Day 2009 will be a day of service and celebration

On National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 26, 2009, more than a hundred volunteers will assemble at Mount Rainier National Park to plant native plants, maintain trails, 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 26 has also been designated a Day of Service and Celebration by the National Park Service, in anticipation of the airing of a new documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns that will be released on PBS the following day, titled The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Volunteers will be invited to attend a preview showing of 45 minutes from the series following their day of service.

National Public Lands Day volunteers will gather at the Longmire Museum at 9:00 a.m. Teams under the direction of crew leaders from the National Park Service and Student Conservation Association will help revegetate the site of the old Jackson Visitor Center, which was torn down and replaced by a new building last fall. Volunteers throughout late September and early October will plant more than 130,000 native plants at the site. Other teams on National Public Lands Day will work on basic trail maintenance and restoration of the historic Longmire Campground for use by future volunteers. Meanwhile, in the opposite corner of the park, the Washington Trails Association will continue a massive effort to rebuild the Glacier Basin Trail, which was obliterated by flooding three years ago. Projects will be available for all ages and levels of physical ability.

A coalition of nonprofit organizations and corporations has supported volunteer efforts at Mount Rainier throughout the summer and will help with National Public Lands Day. The Student Conservation Association plays a major role, with interns serving as volunteer coordinators and on trail teams throughout the park. The National Parks Conservation Association has led efforts to increase public awareness and understanding of issues facing northwest parks, including climate change and increased dangers from flooding. The Washington Trails Association and its members have worked hard to repair and maintain trails throughout the state. Washington’s National Park Fund has supported flood recovery and volunteer efforts through fundraising. Corporations including Boeing, REI, and Starbucks 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, conduct citizen science research, plant native plants, remove invasive species, maintain backcountry campsites, and catalogue historic records. Last year, 1837 volunteers contributed 70,130 hours of service at Mount Rainier, an effort valued at $1.4 million.

Individuals may RSVP 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 pictures of volunteers in action may be found on Mount Rainier National Park’s website at, or on its volunteer program blog at

- NPS -

Sunday, September 20, 2009

C.A.M.P. on YouTube and Yahoo Video

I’ve just posted a 4-minute video from our summer outreach program on YouTube and Yahoo Video. The video is culled from hours of footage captured by outreach participants themselves, using “Flip” video cameras purchased by our education program. I’m pleased with the results, and look forward to sharing this video with the generous donors who sponsored the program through the National Park Foundation, Washington’s National Park Fund, and REI.

This is a program we hope to continue and expand next summer. We are seeking grants now, so if anyone knows of any funding sources that would apply, please let us know! This is a program that has tremendous potential to connect families with Mount Rainier National Park who would otherwise never have the opportunity to do so.

Enjoy the video. Here’s the official promo text:

In the summer of 2009, 21 families from Seattle pioneered a new program at Mount Rainier National Park called C.A.M.P.: Camping Adventure with My Parents. The program was designed for families who had no experience with the National Parks, or who had never been camping before. Over the course of three days, they learned how to set up tents, how to build a campfire, and how to cook dinner in the woods. They went on hikes, attended ranger programs, learned about volcanoes and glaciers, played in the river, and helped with volunteer projects. They made new friends, and had many new experiences. When they arrived at the park, each family was given a camera with which to record their experiences. This is their story, through their own eyes, and in their own words.

Update: For anyone who's interested, here's a link where you can download the full 4-minute video at its original full resolution (640x480):

For our CAMP participants, I've also uploaded the full 28-minute "highlights reel" I showed at our CAMP reunion event in Seattle on September 20. Downloading this one's more complicated, for a variety of reasons related to the limitations of our government website. I'll spare you the details, but here's what you need to do:

  1. Download all three of the following files. You can do so most easily (on Windows-based computers) by right-clicking on the link and choosing "save as."

    File 1:
    File 2:
    File 3:
  2. Rename the second and third file by removing the ".zip" extension. To do this (at least on a windows-based computer), right-click on the file and select "rename," then position the cursor at the end of the file name and hit the backspace key four times. Leave the .zip extension on the first file. You should end up with three files, named:
  3. Double-click on the file named "" and follow the instructions to "unzip" it to a location of your choosing (e.g. your computer desktop).
  4. If your computer does not have Winzip or a comparable file compacting program, you can download a free version online at
Good luck, and if you run into any problems, let me know.
Another update: Both videos are now available on Joe's Shutterfly site,! You can watch both the 4-minute and 28-minute videos there, but you won't be able to download them from this site.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Tomorrow night, KCTS TV (Channel 9) will air the first of a two-part series called National Parks: Northwest Stories. The two 30-minute features (the second will be aired next week) will focus on Mount Rainier and other Washington national parks, including the role of volunteers in Mount Rainier's flood recovery efforts over the past few years:

KCTS 9 shares stories from the National Parks in Washington State. From the magnificent peaks and glaciers of the North Cascades, to the dense rainforests of the Olympics, to the awe-inspiring and iconic Mount Rainier, we take you deep into our National Parks, bringing you stories of the land, and the people who have dedicated their lives to preserving these "sublime wonderlands" that belong to all of us.

The films will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Friday September 18 and 25.

These features add a local angle to the "Big Event" coming up a week from Sunday (8:00 September 27), the new documentary by Ken Burns entitled The National Parks: America's Best Idea. This 12-hour, six-episode series will focus on the people who made the National Parks what they are today:

Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales — from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska — The National Parks: America's Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background — rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy. It is a story full of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, stirring adventure and enduring inspiration - set against the most breathtaking backdrops imaginable.
If you love the national parks, this is must-see TV!

For a special 45-minute preview of the Ken Burns film, plus a showing of the KCTS specials, join us for National Public Lands Day on Saturday September 26. Meet at Longmire at 9:00am with water, lunch, and work clothes, and be prepared to work on trail maintenance, native plant revegetation, and historic campground restoration for the day. Gather at the historic Community Building afterward for pizza and movies. Then watch the Ken Burns series with pride, knowing that you--you!--are one of the special people Burns is talking about when he tells stories of those who have worked to protect some of the most extraordinary places in the world!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

National Public Lands Day registration now open!

National Public Lands Day will be fast upon us--Saturday, September 26 from 9am to 4pm! As reported earlier, we have a wide variety of projects ready for volunteer hands to help with, including native plant revegetation, trail maintenance, and campground restoration.

After the event, we will be gathering, beginning at 3:30pm, at the Longmire Community Building for pizza and a preview showing of the new Ken Burns documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which airs on PBS beginning the following night.

In order to help us know how many crew leaders to arrange and how much pizza to buy, we would appreciate it greatly if you could please RSVP at the following website:

You are welcome to register once for your entire group or family.

Thanks, and we'll look forward to seeing you here!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

From (also known as

This year we commemorate the first September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 inspired Americans to come together in a remarkable spirit of unity and compassion. It was a stark reminder that our fate as individuals is inherently tied to the fate of our nation. Eight years later, September 11 continues to evoke strong emotion and is an homage to sacrifice and a call to action.

In April, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act which, for the first time, officially recognizes September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. This year, on September 11, the President, the Corporation for National and Community Service, MyGoodDeed and the 9/11 families will ask all Americans to remember that Tuesday eight years ago and recommit to service in their communities throughout the year. We encourage you to continue to promote service by commemorating this milestone through the United We Serve initiative.
Mount Rainier National Park does not have any public projects on the calendar for September 11. However, consider joining the Mount Rainier National Park Associates and the Washington Trails Association the following day to help rebuild the Glacier Basin Trail. In addition, you can find dozens of projects in your area to help with, both on the website and on that of its partner organization, Service Nation. Please consider finding some way to help: if not here, then somewhere in your community. Thanks!

From VIP to NPS

I received this letter over the weekend from Jay Satz, Regional Vice President of SCA:
Hello Colleagues,

I thought you would all enjoy seeing this photo shot by Kristin Mitchell of four year SCA alumnus Jaya Ghosh (Seattle Conservation leadership Corps, 2005-2008), in uniform this summer as an NPS interpretive ranger at North Cascades National Park.

Jaya participated in four years of our academic year program and spent her summers at Mount Rainier (twice, one as an apprentice crew leader), Hopewell Furnace NHS and the Glennallen Resource District (BLM) near the northern slope in Alaska. Along he way she also applied and received a City of Seattle grant for trail repair in one of Seattle’s city parks, presented on her Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative experience with two of her peers at Earth Vision and the Northwest Wilderness Conference and was a keynote speaker at Seattle’s Fiftieth Anniversary celebration and our kick off Earth Day event, sharing the dais with Mayor Nickels and Congressman Inslee.
It's always gratifying to see a "graduate" of volunteer service with the National Park Service get to put on the green-and-gray! In fact, many, many of us who have careers with NPS began as volunteers, often with SCA. I, myself, first worked as a volunteer at the South Rim Visitor Center at Grand Canyon National Park. I crossed paths with Jaya several times during the two summers she worked here, and am not surprised that North Cascades picked her up as an employee the first chance they got. Congratulations, Jaya!

Alyssa Herr named Natural and Cultural Resources Employee of the Year

Last week, Barbara Samora presented Alyssa Herr with the 2009 NCR Employee of the Year Award.

Alyssa was assigned the task of addressing wildlife food conditioning and habituation issues, in addition to her normal duties working on the spotted owl field monitoring crew. She was the field lead for the informational campaign to reduce feeding of wildlife throughout the park. She organized a huge volunteer effort to address wildlife feeding and habituation by recruiting volunteers and providing a hands on training session before sending them out into the field to patrol problem areas and educate visitors. Alyssa took the initiative to contact the local newspaper whose published article on the event aided in recruiting volunteers. She also took the initiative to develop a logo and had an unsolicited but interested donor provide t-shirts with the wildlife logo to provide to volunteers participating in the event.

Alyssa conducted patrols of campgrounds, employee quarters and outdoor concession facilities to address problems with improper food storage and educate employees and visitors on wildlife issues.

Alyssa also assisted the Ranger division staff in developing another wildlife campaign that focused on wildlife roadkill events as well as wildlife feeding. She worked closely with park Rangers and Interpreters to address these issues.

In addition, Alyssa assisted the Wildlife Ecologist by serving as field lead for spotted owl and other field wildlife projects in the absence of the lead bio tech.

Alyssa is enthusiastic, energetic and has taken incredible initiative in developing a program that educates both visitors and employees on the effects of wildlife food conditioning and habituation. She is well respected by her co-workers in all divisions. She is most deserving of the 2009 Natural and Cultural Resources Division annual award.

Please join with me in congratulating Alyssa for a job well.

Roger J. Andrascik
Acting Deputy Superintendent
Mount Rainier National Park

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tacoma Teachers Volunteer at Mount Rainier National Park

Phil and Lisa Hertzog spent several days this summer volunteering at Mount Rainier National Park. Phil teaches 10th Grade Biology at Stadium High School, while Lisa teaches 8th Grade Math at the new First Creek Middle School.

The Hertzogs served as Meadow Rovers on the trails surrounding Paradise on the west side of the Park. Their duties consisted of walking the trails and educating Park visitors on how to protect the fragile subalpine meadows. One footstep can destroy over 20 plants and 10 people walking across the meadows to the same snow patch can create a social path that can result in erosion and loss of native vegetation. With over 1.5 million visitors a year to Mount Rainier National Park, the Meadow Rover Program helps inform visitors to stay on the trails and to protect a significant national resource.

One of the biggest challenges Phil faced as a Meadow Rover was dealing with a group of fifty Korean Middle Schoolers. The students had never seen snow before and raced across the fragile meadows to have a snow ball fight. “As the students were trampling avalanche lilies, lupine, and pink mountain heather, I had to use hand gestures to communicate with the non-English speaking students about the damage being done to the meadows,” he said. Phil diplomatically got the students back on the trail and hiked them up another 300 yards where the students accessed a large snow field to continue their snowball fight without damaging the vegetation. Later the students spotted Phil at the Jackson Visitor Center and waved him over to join in a group photograph.

The Hertzogs also helped out with “The Shadows of the Past” Living History Program held at Longmire in the Park on the evening of August 15. Lisa carried a lantern to light the way for a group of 50 Park visitors on the “Trail of the Shadows” that runs 1 mile around Longmire Meadow. As an interpretive ranger made introductory remarks, volunteers dressed as historical characters, such as John Muir, would appear out of the darkness along the trail and describe their role in the history of Mount Rainier National Park. Lisa, Phil and other lantern bearers would light up the characters' faces as they acted out their parts and made for a magically evening in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

The Hertzogs plan to incorporate their volunteer experiences at Mount Rainier into their biology and math classroom lessons. Both Phil and Lisa encourage other Tacoma School District Teachers to consider volunteer opportunities at the Park.

Volunteer Opportunities at Mt. Rainier National ParkSeveral volunteer opportunities are available for both students and teachers at Mount Rainier National Park this fall and next summer. Volunteering at the Park can help you and your students improve science skills and help out our community. As a volunteer, you also have opportunities to participate in Park Service training sessions that may benefit your classroom curriculum.

This fall, the Park Service needs volunteers to help plant up to 140,000 plants at the site of the old Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise on the west side of the Park. The Park Service opened a new Visitor Center last fall and completed work this summer to allow revegetation of the old center site to start this month.

Will Arnesen, Mount Rainier National Park Restoration Ecologist, will lead the planting efforts and has set up the following the following weekends for groups who would like to help out: Sept. 19/20, Sept. 26/27, and Oct. 3/4.

Groups are encouraged to sign up for any of the above dates by contacting Will via e-mail at or calling (360) 569-2211 ext. 3374. Students under the age of 18 will need to have parents sign a National Park Service permission form. Individuals that would like to help out are welcome to drop by the old Visitor Center Site located in the lower Paradise Parking lot on Saturday September 26 and Saturday October 3. Individuals may be able to drop in on the other 4 dates listed above if we have other groups sign up for those days. Please contact Will to find out if planting will occur on those days if you have a strong interest. All volunteers should bring rain gear, work gloves and be ready to work in muddy conditions since our native plants need lots of water to get them growing upon planting.

The Park also has a number of volunteer opportunities next summer. These opportunities include patrolling the Paradise and Sunrise trails to educate visitors on how to protect the fragile sub alpine meadows, assisting with park research efforts, helping with trail maintenance, and participating in interpretive history programs. You can find out more information about these activities by going to the Park’s Volunteer Website at or contacting Kevin Bacher, Mount Rainier National Park Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager, at or (360) 569-2211 ext. 3385.

Thank you to Phil Hertzog of Stadium High School, who wrote this article and can also talk to you about his volunteer experience at Mount Rainier. He can be reached via District phone at 253 571-3176 x-3176.