Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mount Rainier's Volunteer and Outreach Programs receive grants from Washington's National Park Fund

Throughout the flood recovery efforts following the great floods of November 2006, one of our most important partners was Washington's National Park Fund, a non-profit organization that raises funds to support Olympic, North Cascades, and Mount Rainier National Parks. Many, many important projects have been supported by the Fund over the years, not least of which was our invaluable partnership with the Student Conservation Association and its Recovery Corps and Conservation Leadership Corps programs.

Now the Fund has stepped forward again with several generous grants, two of which will directly support Mount Rainier's volunteer and outreach programs.

Camping Adventure with My Parents
Beginning this weekend, two dozen families from the Seattle area will be coming to Mount Rainier for their very first camping experience. Urban outreach ranger Brad Carlquist has spent the spring recruiting families and orienting them for this adventure, in cooperation with the Seattle City Parks department, especially the staff at Camp Long. The camping adventure will last three days, with eight families coming to the park on each of three weekends. The families will enjoy the park with hikes and ranger-led presentations, participate in volunteer service projects, and learn how to build campfires, set up tents, and cook dinner in the woods. They will document their experiences using handheld "Flip" cameras.

The CAMP program has been tried previously, with great success, at Sequoia and North Cascades National Parks, but our venture here at Rainier is larger than either of these programs. If all goes well, we hope to expand the program next year, and focus our recruitment efforts on communities that are traditionally underserved by the National Park Service.

Washington's National Park Fund has committed $12,000 toward the personnel and supplies necessary to get this innovative pilot program off the ground at Mount Rainier.

Volunteer Outreach
This year, four volunteer coordinators were hired to work within key programs at Mount Rainier, including plant ecology, citizen science, trails, and maintenance. These four individuals, Sarah Rosenthal, Caitlin Kenney, Colum Lang, and Tim Cronin, have been tasked with identifying volunteer projects, recruiting groups and individuals, and leading volunteer opportunities in the field. So far, the program has been highly productive, and we anticipate many new volunteer opportunities to be posted on our calendar soon--and many more unadvertised opportunities are already available for groups. In addition, Harry and Jean Millan are serving as Campground Managers in the Longmire Campground, providing campsites, platform tents, and hot showers for the use of visiting volunteers!

Washington's National Park Fund has committed $18,800 to support this program into next year.

Other projects
The Fund has also committed another $15,000 to support educational programs at Mount Rainier, a program called "Connecting Kids to Parks"; and $10,000 to support Paradise Meadow Restoration, a program that makes extensive use of volunteers.

We are thrilled to be continuing this exceptional partnership with Washington's National Park Fund! For further information, and to find out how you can contribute to future projects, visit the Fund's website at WNPF.org.

No comments: