Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2009 Meadow Rover Training

Mount Rainier National Park's annual Meadow Rover training occurred on Saturday, June 27, with 61 rovers in attendance, including 38 who were brand new to the program. Welcome to all of our new volunteers!

Meadow Rovers patrol the trails at Paradise, Sunrise, and elsewhere, educating visitors about the importance of staying on the trails for the protection of the fragile subalpine meadow plants. With limited paid staff available to do this, Meadow Rovers are invaluable partners in the efforts to protect Mount Rainier's natural resources and serve its visitors.

The rovers heard from a wide variety of presenters, including Kevin Bacher, Julia Pinnix, and Curt Jacquot, who discussed the logistics of the program and shared ideas for creative communication and interpretation; Alyssa Herr, who presented information about habituated wildlife; Will Arnesen, who described subalpine ecology, revegetation, and trail maintenance; and Daniel Camiccia, who covered procedures for addressing law enforcement and emergency medical issues. The course took place in the Common Room of the Paradise Guide House, in cooperation with Guest Services Incorporated.

Meadow Rover Resources are online for those who would like to learn more! Visit our Meadow Rover project page for a wealth of downloadable materials, including our 2009 Meadow Rover Handbook. Copies of the wildlife and ecology powerpoints will be added soon, as well as an education video on informal interpretation. A free volunteer discussion group is also available, which includes an interactive calendar suitable for finding (or offering) carpool opportunities.

Even if you missed the formal training day, you can still sign up. Fill out one of our online applications, and then plan to join us any Saturday throughout the summer, at 10:30 at Paradise's Jackson Visitor Center or at 10:00 at the Sunrise Visitor Center. Experienced "Meadow Rover Mentors" have committed to attending these weekly meetings to help guide new Rovers in "learning the ropes" and gaining experience of their own.

Meadow Rover Mentors are still needed for dates throughout the summer. If you'd like to participate, please contact Nick Abel, and sign up online for the dates you're available at either Paradise or Sunrise.

Rainier rangers: A sharp eye on the slopes

Sunday's News Tribune had an excellent article about Mount Rainier's climbing program, featuring the new climbing director, Stefan Lofgren, as well as the elite seasonal and volunteer rangers who help him patrol the upper mountain. Read all about them and their "above average" volunteer assignments on the News Tribune website!

Rainier rangers: A sharp eye on the slopes

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Friday, June 26, 2009

No Knotweed Day

Tommorow is Ashford's first annual "No Knotweed Day". Come and help protect the Nisqually watershed from these invasive plants. Learn how to identify and remove these unwanted visitors and join a knotweed bending event that prepares the plants for treatment.

10:00 Meet at the Ashford Fire Station
10:00 - 10:30 Knotweed training
10:30 - 4:00 Knotweed bending

Lunch is provided, courtesy of Paul Nerge and Crescent Realty

For more information contact Paul Nerge at 360-569-2767

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer of Service

Hey everyone,

Kevin passed on to me a news release about a new summer initiative by the White House called "United We Serve". Running June 22 through September 11, "United We Serve" will call on all Americans to help renew our country by addressing problems in education, health care, energy independence, economic renewal and and other complex issues. When normal people have the right tools, the can do extraordinary things, and so this initiative aims to both expand existing projects by engaging new volunteers and encourage volunteer activism and independence by providing a way for everyone to have the tools they need. A number of programs and taking part in this initiative, including:

I would encourage everyone to take a look at these websites, or check out Serve.gov, and find a project you might be interested in. Only through the hard work of you, the volunteer, does an initive like this survive.

See you on the Mountain,


Girl & Boy Scout Ranger Program

Kevin and I just recently received a package of patches for a new program that the NPS is rolling out in cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA. It's call the Resource Stewardship Girl Scout (Scout) Ranger Program, and to quote the literature on the program:

"The Resource Stewardship Ranger Program engages Girl Scouts (and Boy Scouts) in education, volunteer services, or action projects in National Parks"

National Parks have always had a unique relationship with scouting groups. We provide a pristine natural setting for use by these scouting programs, while they nuture a love of nature and outdoors in younger generations. Scouting programs are helping to raise a generation kids that will become the patrons of the National Park. This program is our way of giving back and recognizing the achivments of these young scouts. We can't wait to have groups up taking part in the program. If you're interested in having your troop take part in this program, you can find more information for Girl Scouts here and more information for Boy Scouts here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

E-mail Correction

Hey everyone, Nick here, just want to give a quick correction to the Volunteer Newsletter. It was stated in the newsletter that my e-mail was nicholas_abel@nps.gov. This is half correct. My e-mail is actually nicholas_abel@partner.nps.gov. I hope that cleared up any confusion. And send me a message if you have any questions about the newsletter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Volunteer Newsletter 4.4: Meadow Roving and other Opportunities


The lawn in front of my office is full of school kids visiting the park on an end-of-year field trip. That means that the long winter is over and it's time for the volunteer program to start in earnest! Meadow Rovers, especially, have been straining at the gate, ready to head out on the trails, and while the snow has not yet melted at Paradise, and Sunrise isn't even open to the public yet, there are already huge numbers of people to contact and much work to be done.

This issue of the Volunteer Newsletter is dedicated to our Meadow Rovers, more than a hundred strong, who patrol and protect our beautiful but fragile meadows and serve visitors along trails throughout the park. If you're new to this program, read on and learn more--and don't miss the list of other upcoming volunteer opportunities at the end of the page!

Meadow Rover Training
This year's training day will be Saturday June 27 from 10am to 4pm. We'll be meeting in the Common Room of the Paradise Guide House, which is the historic building once used by the park's climbing concessioners and which now houses the Climber Information Center, located just north of the upper parking lot at Paradise between the new visitor center and the Paradise
Inn. For those of you with GPS units or online mapping systems, you'll be navigating to N 46° 47.189', W 121° 44.124'.

The agenda is still being finalized, but it's getting close. At present, the schedule looks like this:

10:00 Welcome, introductions, and the role of Meadow Rovers
10:30 Logistics and Resources for Meadow Rovers
11:15 Informal Interpretation and Creative Communication Techniques
12:00 Lunch and New Rover Registration
12:45 Keeping Wildlife Wild
1:30 Subalpine Ecology and Revegetation
2:15 Resource and Visitor Protection
3:00 Snow Roving
4:00 Adjourn

The first part of the day will be in the classroom, and then we'll wrap up out in the field. Come prepared to spend time outside on the snow (there were still 96" on the ground as of last weekend), including jackets, boots, sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen. Bring a sack lunch.

If you plan to come, please RSVP to me so we have some idea of how many people to expect.

Meadow Rover Mentors
If you're an experienced Rover, we're still looking for Meadow Rover Mentors, especially at Paradise. To remind you, we're planning to conduct a brief "staff meeting" every Saturday at 10am at both Paradise and Sunrise. Rovers new and old (er, experienced) are welcome to attend to find out the latest about what's happening in the Paradise operation and ecosystem, and to learn where Rovers would be of greatest benefit. By ensuring that at least one experienced Meadow Rover "Mentor" attends each meeting, new rovers will have the opportunity to spend the rest of the day hiking with the more experienced person to "learn the ropes" from them. This is ideal both for those who simply need more experience before heading out on their own, and for those who are not able to attend the formal Meadow Rover Training on the 27th but would still like to become Rovers.

If you're interested in becoming a Mentor, please contact my assistant, Nick Abel, at Nicholas_Abel@partner.nps.gov. If you'd like to spend a day with a Mentor, just show up on any Saturday at 10:00 at either the Paradise or Sunrise Visitor Center.

The Longmire Campground
The historic campground at Longmire, across the river and behind the Community Building, is now in full operation for the summer and available for use by volunteers! For those who've been around a while, we no longer need to squeeze into the campground at Cougar Rock, potentially displacing other visitors; we now have our own dedicated set of sites. These include about thirty individual sites, two group sites, nine platform tents, an indoor food storage area, and a bath house with three hot showers--the only publically accessible showers in the park, and they're only available to volunteers!

Volunteers are welcome to stay in the campground for free either the night before or the night after their volunteer service, or both. Please contact me at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov, or Nick at Nicholas_Abel@partner.nps.gov, or call us at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385, if you'd like to reserve a site. Sites will also be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but you'll get the best selection if you call ahead.

We'll be continuing the long work of restoring the campground throughout the summer, including cleaning up forest debris, lining sites and trails with rocks, and building picnic tables. If you or your group would like to help, send me a note or give me a call.

Online Resources
Your online home for Meadow Rover resources can be found on the right-hand side of our Volunteer Blog (rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com), in the section labeled "Volunteer Project Pages." Or, go directly to the following address:


There, you'll find copies of last year's training PowerPoint presentations, last year's Meadow Rover Handbook, and links to lots of other great sources of information. Updating the Meadow Rover Handbook for 2009 will be one of the next items on my agenda, though there should only be minor changes from 2008.

In addition, I highly recommend joining our Yahoo Discussion Group at groups.yahoo.com/group/RainierVolunteers. You can join for free and participate in the discussion of current events at the park. Whenever I receive updates about park resources, facilities, or operations, I forward them to the discussion group, so this is a great way to stay abreast of road openings, park-wide training opportunities, wildlife sightings, weather data, helicopter operations, and many of the other things that go on behind the scenes in the park.

In addition, the Yahoo site has a calendar that is ideal for finding carpool opportunities. Simply post a note on a particular date indicating that you plan to come up to the park, and whether you're looking for riders or drivers, and then others who are planning to come up on the same date can contact you directly to share a ride. The more people who use this tool, the more successful it will be.

Other Upcoming Events
Finally, make a note of these other events coming up on our calendar that may be of interest to you:

  • June 19 Washington Trails Association: WTA will be working almost every weekend this summer to do trail construction on the Glacier Basin Trail, devastated by the 2006 floods. Visit their website for a complete schedule and to sign up to help. Other dates currently on the calendar include June 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28, and July 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12.

  • June 20 Sunrise Shoveling Party: This is a late-breaking opportunity, for which we are seeking a suitable group of about 20 people or so. The date is flexible: any time the week of June 22 would also work. We need strong individuals to help us shovel out utilities and historic structures in preparation for the spring opening of Sunrise. Come visit before the general public! Call me or Nick at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385 to volunteer your group.

  • June 23 Folder Stuffing Party: We're still looking for individuals to help stuff folders in preparation for our All-Employee Meeting on June 24. If you're interested, send a note to Nick Abel at Nicholas_Abel@partner.nps.gov; we'll be gathering at the Longmire Administration Building at 9am, and there will be plenty of time for meadow roving afterward.

  • July 4 Eatonville 4th of July Parade: As in past years, we'll be looking for people to help represent the park in Eatonville's 4th of July Parade at noon on (of course) July 4. If you're interested in walking, contact Jim Ross at Jim_Ross@nps.gov.

  • July 4 Speaker Series begins: Throughout the summer, special speakers will be making presentations at the Paradise Inn and Ohanapecosh Campground. If you're working here on a Saturday, plan to stay late and attend one of these great programs. Look for the press release on the park's website in the "News" section. (Note: as of this writing, that news release is missing, but it should be added shortly, posted under the date of May 14.)

  • July 11-12 and 18-19 Paradise Revegetation Projects: Our first major public volunteer project is an effort to put 60,000 plants in the ground during the month of July. There's still lots of room to sign up as individuals or groups. Click on the listing on our calendar at the top of our volunteer blog or follow the direct link to register to participate; or give me a call at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385 if you'd like to bring a large group.

  • July 25 Keep Wildlife Wild Weekend: Not yet on our calendar, so this is a free heads-up to those of you on the mailing list! We're tentatively planning a major push to focus on the problem of habituated wildlife in our campgrounds and viewpoints, mostly due to feeding by visitors. We'll be advertising this shortly and looking for individuals, groups, and
    Meadow Rovers to help spread the word and our new Keep Wildlife Wild brochures!

  • August 15 Volunteer Picnic and Shadows of the Past: Our annual mid-summer celebration of volunteer service will be on August 15 this year. As in past years, this will be a great opportunity to meet other volunteers, hand out some awards, and, most importantly, share some great food. That evening, we'll reprise the famous Shadows of the Past living history program on the Trail of the Shadows. We'll be looking for people to carry lanterns as well as to portray historical characters (don't worry, the script is already written!). If you'd like to help, contact Curt Jacquot at Curt_Jacquot@nps.gov or 360-569-2211 ext. 3312.

  • August 22-September 11 Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association: For the 16th year, the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association will return from Waseda University in Tokyo! Meadow Rovers will find them helping to build an accessible trailhead and benches behind the Paradise Guide House for three weeks this summer. We need families who live in Ashford, Elbe, or Eatonville to host the students. If you'd like to consider this great cross-cultural opportunity, contact Mika Moore at Mika_Moore@nps.gov or 360-569-2211 ext. 2304.

  • September 11-27 Puyallup Fair: As with past years, we'll be looking for individuals to help staff the park's information booth at the Puyallup Fair, which this year runs from September 11 through 27. Participation for a three-hour shift includes free entrance and parking tickets for the fair. This year, we're also looking for individuals to help offer
    hands-on activities from 1:00-5:00 on September 24 and/or 25. Contact Jim Ross at Jim_Ross@nps.gov if you'd like to help. In addition, Jim may also be grateful for assistance at the several smaller fairs we attend over the course of the summer, including the King County Fair (July 16-18), the Tacoma Ethnic Fest (July 25-26), and the Nisqually Watershed Festival (September 26).

  • September 26 National Public Lands Day: As always, our final major volunteer day will be National Public Lands Day, on the final Saturday in September. We plan to have a wide range of activities that day, including trail maintenance, revegetation, roadside cleanup, campground restoration, and much more. Watch for details, but put it on your calendar now!

  • And much more: Throughout the summer, other volunteer opportunities will appear regularly on the calendar at the top of our volunteer blog. The Mount Rainier National Park Associates will join us once a month through October, helping with trail work, revegetation, and exotic plant removal. We're still recruiting people to join our Citizen Science Teams, our Historic Landscape Restoration Teams, and our Historic (Costumed) Interpretation Teams, all of which will be getting off the ground for the summer within the next few weeks. We've hired volunteer coordinators in the areas of plant ecology, citizen science, trails, and backcountry maintenance, and as soon as these individuals are trained and oriented, they will be coordinating the teams under their direction and adding volunteer projects to our calendar throughout the summer: wilderness cleanup, picnic table construction, trail maintenance, revegetation, seed collection, amphibian surveys, and much more. We're looking for both individuals and groups to match up with these projects, so if you're interested in being considered, send me an e-mail at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov or give me a call at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385 to get on our calendar and our mailing list.

See you at the training or out there on the trails!

Kevin Bacher
Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager
360-569-2211 ext. 3385

Volunteers Needed to Shovel Out Sunrise

Here's a great opportunity for a volunteer group, with very short notice! As we've done for the past two years, we'd like to recruit about two dozen people to help us shovel out utilities and historic structures at Sunrise in preparation for spring opening. These facilities can't safely be cleared of snow by mechanical equipment, so volunteer assistance is extremely helpful.

Due to the late notice, this year we're specifically looking for an organized group who can show up together to complete the project. Plan to make a day of it, bring good waterproof footwear, water, and lunches, and we'll provide the shovels and provide you with access to Sunrise weeks before the general public arrives!

We're looking for groups to help any time between now and June 27. Let us know when you can come, and we'll try to arrange our schedules to accommodate you. To volunteer, contact Kevin Bacher or Nick Abel at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385, and we'll connect you with facilities manager Dale Harvard.

SCA's Public Safety Management Interns meet at Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park's partnership with the Student Conservation Association has been profoundly productive over the years, especially in the wake of the 2006 floods. We are now proud to host the training of SCA's newest initiative, a Public Safety Management Intern program that will place interns in sixteen different national park areas around the country including Mount Rainier. These individuals will be analyzing safety data, reviewing safety procedures and practices, working with park safety officers, and in general, looking for ways to make our parks' commitment to safety even stronger.

The National Park Service, while a leader in so many other areas, has not had an exemplary safety record. SCA, by contrast, is famous for their leadership in this area. This is a partnership that should reap as many benefits as the Mount Rainier Recovery Corps.

Mount Rainier's intern, Rachel Landman, has been here a week already, and will be working with us through mid-August.

The safety interns have a full week of training ahead, addressing risk management, "leave no trace," injury epidemiology, and Wilderness First Aid (offered by our mutual partner Aerie Backcountry Medicine). They are spending their week living in the platform tents of the Longmire Campground, the first large group to take advantage of this legacy of SCA's Mount Rainier Recovery Corps.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

2008 updates to Flood Report published on park website

Hey, volunteers! The 2008 update to our Flood Recovery Report, following the floods of November 2006, has been published on the park website. Check it out if you have time--you'll be impressed, as I was, at how much of the report is dedicated to the work of volunteers. We also have some of the best pictures!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Making a Difference on National Trails Day

For another perspective on the Washington Trails Association's participation in National Trails Day, including another great photo of volunteers at Mount Rainier, check out the Signpost blog on the WTA website.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Glacier Basin Adventures with the WTA

Bonjour everyone,

I hope you had a great weekend, and managed to get outside on Saturday aka National Trails Day. I know I made the most of it. That morning I made my way up and over to the east side of the mountain, where I joined (it was lunch by this time) the Washington Trails Associations in their rerouting of the Glacier Basin trail.

Actually, I just got in their way and made a general racket. I could never keep up with these guys and gals, they really get the job done. But while I'm not so handy with the tools, put me behind a camera and I can do a decent job, and work crews look good in the spotlight. I got some good pictures, so enjoy the slide show at the end of the post.

The WTA had a great showing, with more than two dozen people coming out. For those of you who have never heard of the Washington Trails Association, they're one of the driving public forces behind trail protection and maintenance in this state. They started in 1966 as a newsletter for hikers, and while their main focus is still informing people about trails, they are now a top volunteer organization that helps to keep the trail you use in the condition to be used. You can find out more at http://www.wta.org/.

They will continue to be working on the Glacier Basin Trail throughout the summer, so if you missed this event, be sure to check the blog calendar for the rest. You can also check the WTA website for events in other National Parks, National Forests, and throughout the state. So if you're a hiker, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Au Revoir,


Monday, June 8, 2009

Old state parks directors never die - The Olympian

Old state parks directors never die - The Politics Blog - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington

"A few years have flown by since state parks director Cleve Pinnix abandoned the state workforce in favor or retirement, if that's what he calls his busy lifestyle now. But there he was last weekend at the Ohanapecosh ranger station at Mount Rainier National Park's southeast corner."

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's a PARTY (A Folder Stuffing Party)

Hey everyone, we have a small, one shot volunteer oppurtunity for anyone who has some time to donate.

We need a group of volunteer to help put together 250 packets on Wednesday, June 23. The event should go quick if we get enough volunteers. The packets will be used for one of our All Employee Meetings.

We'll start stuffing a 9:00 AM, and I can't imagine it taking more than a couple of hours. If you want to join and help out you should RSVP with Kevin Bacher at kevin_bacher@nps.gov or 360-569-2211 Ext. 3385

Do svidaniya,

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

National Trails Day

This Saturday is National Trails Day, a perfect time to get outdoors and take advantage of the amazing and beautiful Pacific Northwest (or East if you like it a little dryer), maybe even give back a little. Organizations everywhere are planning volunteer events, not just at Mount Rainier but around the entire state. Some of the events include:

  • A Glacier Basin Cleanup hosted by the Washington Trails Association. Here is the link to join.

You can also check out these groups for volunteer events. It doesn't matter where you volunteer, so long a you get out there and do it.
So get out and give back this Saturday, it's time to say "thanks" to the trails that have given us such a good time. See you on the field!

"Best Volunteer Vacation Ideas"

Our reputation is spreading! On the Travel Answer Man blog:


5. Volunteer at Mount Rainier. You can work for a weekend or long term repairing trails, leading hikes, or any number of other positions. Check out their blog for more about becoming a volunteer.

We should have lots of great new volunteer opportunities posted shortly, for dates throughout the summer, so check back soon for those!

Volunteers needed for Mount Rainier planting session

Volunteers needed for Mount Rainier planting session

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