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