Sunday, December 26, 2010

Standing on the shoulders of giants

I was surprised and incredibly humbled, today, mid-way through two weeks of annual leave with my family at Christmas time, to turn to the last page of the News Tribune and find my name among several others listed as "Outdoors Giants of 2010." It's all for coordinating the work of more than 2,000 volunteers this past year.

But none of that would have been possible without the help of so many partners from the community -- the Washington Trails Association, Student Conservation Association, Mount Rainier National Park Associates, Washington's National Park Fund, Discover Your Northwest, Washington Ski Touring Club, Japan Volunteers in Parks Association, Boy Scouts of America, Seattle Parks, Tacoma MetroParks, REI, Boeing, the Backcountry Horsemen, Nisqually and Pathfinder Schools, Evergreen State College, the list goes on and on and on. And of course special thanks must go to my partner this summer, Evan Escamilla from SCA, who as an intern was so instrumental in keeping everything on track and running smoothly.

An none of it would be possible, either, without the help of hundreds of other individual volunteers, too numerous to even begin to name here. Browse through the blog entries from this past year for a small sampling of all the people who actually did the work, building trails, curating photographs, assisting visitors, rebuilding rock walls, surveying amphibians, creating promotional videos, planting native plants and tending them in the greenhouse, again the list goes on and on and on.

These are the true Outdoors Giants of Mount Rainier, and I feel positively Llliputian in comparison. Thank you, everyone, for a great year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gettin' muddy

When you spend your days organizing volunteer projects for others, it's fun, once in a while, to step away from the computer screen and get dirty yourself. Not just help with one of your own projects -- but chip in on a project organized by other people, to which you have no investment other than your own choice to be there.

I had such an opportunity yesterday. And yes, I got dirty, and yes, it was fun!

Crew leaders from the Nisqually
Tribe helped us out
The 4th graders of Eatonville Elementary School arranged to help with native planting on Nisqually Land Trust land in Ohop Valley, just north of town along Mountain Highway. If you've driven Highway 7 recently you'll know the spot, where the road dips down into a narrow, flat-bottomed valley with a meandering stream, then climbs back up past the turnoff to Eatonville. The stream, wandering through a valley filled with mudflow debris from Mount Rainier, was once prime salmon habitat, but had been channelized by farming over the years. Today, the Nisqually River Council, a coalition that includes the Nisqually Tribe, has "re-meandered" the stream, installed engineered log jams, and planted hundreds of native plants with the help of volunteers.

Sheila Wilson explains good
planting techniques
Enter the 4th graders! In November, Sheila Wilson, Program Coordinator for the Nisqually River Education Project, visited classes at Eatonville Elementary to explain the work--why they were doing what they were doing, and what role trees and other ground cover played in improving habitat for fish (creating shade and woody debris, slowing the water and creating pools where trees fall, anchoring the soil and preventing erosion). She prepared the class for what was to come, so when they got out in the field with their boots and gloves they'd know they were making a difference.

The original project date was November 22, which anyone local will remember as the day of the big pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm. My wife had that day off and was set to help, "rain or shine." But the planners hadn't counted on a foot of snow and sub-freezing windchill, so the date was rescheduled to December 15, a date more suitable for my own schedule. Heavy rain over the past week caused the creek to overflow its banks, and it looked initially like we might be planting in more rain, but the morning dawned partly sunny and the weather held throughout the day.

But still, it was muddy. Wet. Soggy. Goopy. Mushy. Sloppy. Perfect for 4th graders! Due to bus schedules we had less than two hours to actually spend out in the valley, learning how to dig holes and plant wild roses, bigleaf maples, alders, Douglas-firs, and several other species. The kids did most of the work themselves, while crew leaders from the Nisqually Tribe roamed around with the rest of us chaperones, helping out wherever needed and making sure the trees were planted with proper care. The kids had a terrific time, and it was clear that the adults did too.

It's a great example of a project that probably could have been done much more quickly and easily by the team of professional planters. But the Tribe elected, instead, to engage local elementary school kids and their parents, to get their feet wet (literally), to plant their own roots in the project along with those of the trees. For all of us who worked in Ohop Valley yesterday, that spot is now "ours," and we will be watching "our" plants grow over the years to come as we drive by. We'll be watching for the salmon to return. When people wonder what on earth is going on down there along the highway, we'll be able to tell them. For the investment of a few hours of time, the Nisqually Land Trust now will have dozens of advocates in the community.

And I'm happy to be one of them!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Volunteer contributions to Recovery Act projects

Every once in a while I get a request for information related to the volunteer program that leads me down a previously unanticipated trail toward some fascinating discoveries. I had such a request this afternoon, from a coworker looking for the amount of contribution volunteers had made toward the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as ARRA, the Recovery Act, or the "Stimulus Bill."

We have had a total of 16 ARRA projects at Mount Rainier, most of which employed people without any volunteer assistance (replacing electrical lines, for example, or building slurry walls along the Nisqually River for flood protection). But two of the projects did include volunteers: the construction of an accessible trailhead at Paradise in 2009, and trail reconstruction at Glacier Basin and Carbon River. Volunteer contributions to the trail projects, especially, have been substantial, and have allowed us to get more done, in less time, and with the partnership of hundreds of members of our community. Here are the numbers I came up with:

ADA Trail Construction at Paradise
Total volunteer hours: 720
Total volunteers: 9
Youth* hours: 710
Youth volunteers: 8

Major partners:
Volunteer value**: $15,012
Japan Volunteers in Parks Association (550 hours, 6 youth)

* "Youth," for these purposes, are volunteers under the age of 25.
**Volunteer value is based on an equivalent rate of $20.85/hour to for salary and benefits, as estimated by the non-partisan group Independent Sector.

Wonderland Trail at Carbon River
Total volunteer hours: 7,041
Total volunteers: 108
Youth hours: 5,664
Youth volunteers: 50
Volunteer value: $146,805
Major partners:
Washington Conservation Corps (5,640 hours, 48 youth)
Washington Trails Association (413 hours, 2 youth*)
Sierra Club (960 hours, no youth)

*Youth numbers for WTA and Sierra Club are estimated.

Glacier Basin Trail
Total volunteer hours: 39,143
Total volunteers: 1,281
Youth hours: 28,052
Youth volunteers: 312
Volunteer value: $816,132 (!)

Major partners:
Washington Trails Association (10,531 hours, 100 youth)
Student Conservation Association (7,822 hours, 63 youth)
Washington Conservation Corps (15,620 hours, 60 youth)
Northwest Youth Corps (2,195 hours, 45 youth)
Boy Scouts of America (450 hours, 32 youth)
Earthcorps (1,512 hours, 21 youth)
Mount Rainier National Park Associates (346 hours, no youth)

Interesting note: The flood repair projects at Carbon River and Glacier Basin used $986 thousand in ARRA funding (for staff, equipment, supplies, etc.). The total value of volunteer contributions to these projects is $963 thousand. We've basically doubled our money with the help of volunteers!

These are fantastic numbers. Thanks, everyone, for all the hard work that went into generating them -- and all the great things that were accomplished with the time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First summer internship positions now posted on partner websites!

If you're interested in a summer internship at Mount Rainier National Park, now is the time to start applying for positions on the websites of the Student Conservation Association and Geologic Society of America!

"Geoscientist-in-Parks" positions opened today, with an application deadline of February 1, 2011. Fine more information and apply through the Geologic Society's GeoCorps America website. GeoCorps interns are being hired in parks and forests all over the country, including an unprecedented eight positions at Mount Rainier: an Education Specialist, a Geomorphology Technician, and six Interpretation Specialist positions.

Meanwhile, numerous internships have been posted on the Student Conservation Association website, including five (so far) at Mount Rainier. Our "Interpretive Public Recreational Media" internship starts on or about March 1st, while most others begin later in the spring or early summer, including our Volunteer Coordinator, Trails Volunteer Coordinator, Plant Ecology Volunteer Coordinator, and Visitor Services internships. Even more internships have already been requested but have not yet been posted on the SCA website, including a Citizen Science Coordinator, Outdoor Videographer, and Public Safety Management Intern, so check back frequently.

Internships are great ways to get a foot in the door to a career in environmental policy or with a land management agency. They're also great ways to gain experience and skills, try out a possible profession, or just to have a more interesting, fun, and meaningful summer job than the rest of your friends. We hope to see your application this spring and summer!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Please RSVP! 2010 Winter Interpretive and Operations Training

West District Interpreter Lee Snook has just released this agenda for Winter Operations Training, to be held on December 10 beginning at Longmire. If anyone is interested in helping out with our winter interpretive program--helping in the visitor centers, assisting with snowshoe walks, roving by snowshoe near the visitor center or parking lots at Paradise to assist visitors--this training is highly recommended and useful. Please RSVP as soon as possible to Lee by e-mail or by calling 360-569-6043.

2010 Winter Interpretive and Operations Training
Friday, December 10, 2010
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sessions will be held at: Longmire Community Building, Longmire Maintenance Area, Paradise Jackson Visitor Center and the Nisqually Vista Trail. The 8:30 a.m. session is for those who will be traveling in the interpretive van during the winter. Feel free to start your day with the session beginning at 10:00 a.m. if the first session does not apply to you. Please bring your own mug or water bottle for drinks. Coffee and tea provided.

8:15 a.m. - 8:25 a.m.: Gather at Longmire Museum

8:25 a.m.: Walk to Auto Shop

8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.: Winter Driving - Interp Van
Auto Shop area Facilitators: Brandon Lipke, Lee Snook, Curt Jacquot
Topics: Van use, safety equipment, winter driving tips, How-to chain use
This session is primarily for those who will be traveling from Longmire to Paradise in the interpretive van. If this session does not apply to you, feel free to start your day with the next session at 10 a.m.

10:00 – 11:15 a.m. Winter Road Operation.
Community Building Facilitators: Curt Jacquot, LE, Lee Snook, Brandon Lipke
Topics: training notebooks, safety, snow plow operations, road restrictions, administrative travel procedures, gate opening- closing, communications with LE staff, Longmire to Paradise day and overnight parking, common issues, radio use, Q and A.

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Lunch at Community Building (soup will be available, feel free to bring your own lunch). Tables and microwave are available at the Community Building.

11:45 - 12:45 Paradise Area Operations
Community Building Facilitators: Curt, Lee, LE
Topics: logistics, communication, snow play area rules, winter camping, Paradise parking, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding trail reports, common winter issues, habituated wildlife issues, compressed air availability, Q and A.

12:45-1:30 Travel to Paradise
Please be sure to have chains. They may be required to travel to Paradise.

1:30 – 4:00 Guided Walk
Jackson Visitor Center Front Desk Facilitators: Lee, Curt Jaquot
A guided walk on the Nisqually Vista Trail, snow permitting, using snowshoes.

4:00 – 4:10 Wrap-up at the end of snowshoe walk.

4:10 – 5:00 Travel safely to Longmire.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tales of a Campground Host

Phill Vanderschaegen, this summer's Campground Host at Ohanapecosh, has put together a nice web page about his experiences there, which makes a great introduction to what it's like to be a volunteer (and specifically a campground host) at Mount Rainier National Park. Check it out!

Former Rainier campground hosts honored at Yosemite

During the 2004 and 2005 seasons, George and Charlotte O'Hare served as Campgrounds Hosts here at Mount Rainier National Park. They've since moved on to other jobs in other places, but, judging by the word received today from Yosemite National Park, they've continued to excel! This from a press release issued today:

Yosemite National Park Volunteers Recognized at the
First Annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards Ceremony

The first annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony took place in September of this year. The ceremony was held to recognize outstanding volunteers who have donated their time, talent, and skills to help improve park facilities.... The recipients of the first annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards are:

Individual Volunteer:
George and Charlotte O'Hare have been volunteering at Yosemite, as well as other national and state parks for many years. In Yosemite National Park they have worked for the Interpretation Division at Glacier Point, for the Visitor Protection Division at Badger Pass, and as Campground Hosts at Tuolumne Meadows Campgrounds. In all their work they have shared their constant enthusiasm and vast knowledge of the park to enhance the experience of countless park visitors.....

Special Award Presentation of Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award (for 4,000+ hours):
The Presidential Service Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to volunteers who have accumulated over 4,000 hours of service. Each recipient received a letter of commendation from President Barack Obama, a certificate of achievement, and a Lifetime Service pin. This year, five volunteers were given this award during the Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony [including] Charlotte O’Hare [and] George O’Hare

Congratulations, Charlotte and George!

Update: Superintendent Dave Uberuaga, who served as Acting Superintendent at Yosemite for a time, says "they asked me to say hello to MORA folks. I did see them a few times. She bakes cookies and other great items for the staff & is like a House Mother to many seasonal folks. I saw them the first weekend I was in the park." So, Hello everyone from the O'Hares!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Meadow Rover Updates and new correspondence e-mail address

Hello Meadow/Snow Rovers!
From: Curt Jacquot, West District Area Ranger and New Meadow/Snow Rover Supervisor

Recent Happenings
I am writing to update you on the Meadow/Snow Rover program and happenings at Paradise.  Fall colors have faded and Winter is close at hand (or is it here?).  Several feet of snow fell at Paradise in the last few weeks.  The foxes are still making rounds and some people are beginning to carry skis up to enjoy the Muir snowfield. The "Stay off the Meadow" signs and rope-pole barriers have been removed for the season.  Several park roads have also closed for the season.

As some of you may have heard I have been hired on a permanent basis as the West District Area Ranger. I am also the Meadow/Snow Rover supervisor. I am still catching up on the changes that took place last summer, but I hope to continue the momentum in the meadow rover program that was started by Erin Whittaker and Lee Snook. One of the ways we plan to do that is by having an email strictly for Meadow/Snow rovers. All questions, concerns, comments about Meadow/Snow Roving should now go to:

Kevin Bacher (Volunteer Program Manager), Lee Snook (West District Interpretive Supervisor), and I (Curt Jacquot) will check the inbox at .

What Volunteers are Needed for in late Fall and Winter
Even with a couple of feet of snow, the meadow is not protected when people venture off trail. Meadow rovers are definitely needed in late fall!  Rovers can assist by greeting people at the Skyline trailhead and discussing fragile plants and the importance of staying on deep snow and not on the vegetation. Many people will have questions about the snow play area and why it is not open yet. We need to explain the need for deeper snow and grooming the run before the snow play area can open as planned on December 18th. Rovers can also talk with visitors about the avalanche forecast and "Keeping Wildlife Wild."   Once we start leading snowshoe walks on December 18th, Meadow/Snow rover volunteers can assist by taking the "sweep end" of the groups so no one falls behind.  Other things volunteers might assist with:  Trail updates. What condition are they in? Is a trail completely snow covered, or just partially? Has a trail been wanded/marked? Once the trails are wanded/marked Snow Rovers can help reset the poles if they start to get buried or fall over. If you prefer to be inside it is possible to rove the visitor center giving directions or answering questions about the exhibits.

Winter Interpretive Training Open to Volunteers
On December 10th we will have Winter Interpretive training at the Longmire Community building from 8:30 AM through 5:00 PM. The training will cover Winter park operations, safety, and Winter interpretive programs. In the afternoon we are planning an example guided interpretive walk at Paradise. Please RSVP for the training by emailing or calling West District Interpreter Lee Snook ( , (360) 569-6043).

Who to Contact:
If you are planning to come up to volunteer it is helpful for us to know when you are coming.  If you could email me at the new Meadow Rover email address ( to let me know in advance I can be sure to save room in the van if you would like to ride up with staff. The Van will leave from the Museum on weekends and holidays at 9:15 a.m. If you wish to use the volunteer apartment at Tahoma Woods please confirm your duties with Lee Snook or I via the Meadow Rover email and let us know you would like to use the apartment. Lee or I will check to see if the Tahoma Woods VIP apartment is available on the date(s) you need it.  If you are coming up to volunteer during the week, you can check out a radio at the Longmire Museum (if you have been trained on park radio use). The Museum is open from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily.

If you have questions about volunteering at Paradise or Longmire, please contact Lee Snook or I via the Meadow Rover email. If time is short and you want a quick response don't hesitate to call us. My days off are usually Thursday and Friday and Lee is off primarily on Sunday and Monday. If you have questions about the overall volunteer or outreach programs, please contact Kevin Bacher at  or (360) 569-2211 extrension 3385.

Once again, contact information:
The best place to send email regarding the Meadow/Snow Rover program:
Meadow Rover email:

Curt Jacquot:, phone: (360) 569-6426
Lee Snook: email:, phone: (360) 569-6043
Kevin Bacher:, phone: (360) 569-2211 extension 3385
Longmire Museum: (360) 569-2211 extension 3314
Paradise Jackson Visitor Center: (360) 569-6036

Thanks for being a Meadow/Snow rover! As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Curt Jacquot
Park Ranger - Interpretation, Meadow/Snow Rover Supervisor
Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Ave East
Ashford, WA 98304
(360) 569-2211, Extension 6426

Friday, November 5, 2010

Best wishes to Evan Escamilla

IMG_1855If you had any interaction with our volunteer program this summer, you almost certainly crossed paths with our volunteer coordinator intern, Evan Escamilla. Evan came to us through the Student Conservation Association in early May from Western Michigan University, and for six months served as my right hand man, answering volunteer correspondence, processing paperwork, and visiting volunteer groups in the field to welcome them to the park and thank them for their service. In many cases, he organized groups from start to finish, helping them establish the contacts they needed with park supervisors, arranging their overnight stays in the Longmire Volunteer Campground, and coordinating other logistics.

Anyone who worked with him will tell you that Evan is extremely good at what he does. He's a quick learner, highly capable, friendly and outgoing, and has an attitude of calm competence that puts everyone at ease. He was the perfect intern for an extremely busy summer in which my time was constantly pulled in other directions to deal with budget issues, various administrative "fires," and the other half of my job, managing the park's outreach program, including our highly successful but intensely time consuming CAMP program. It's good to work with someone you can trust to take a task with minimal background information, run with it, and produce positive results. Look at our numbers for this year! Even more important, listen to the feedback from volunteers and supervisors, who were universally appreciative of Evan's efforts.

Alas, it is the nature of internships and a seasonal workforce that eventually November arrives and their time is up. Evan wrapped up his job this week, turned in his keys, and checked out of his housing, departing for points unknown. He has several options, including another internship here in Washington or job prospects in Michigan or Colorado. He may return to college to pursue a graduate degree. Whichever door opens for him, I have no doubt that he'll excel in whatever he does next.

And I hope he comes back to visit. He's made a lot of friends here at Mount Rainier, and in the community of volunteers and employees that orbit the park, not least of which is me. It was a pleasure to work with Evan, as a supervisor, colleague, and friend, and I wish him well.

P.S. I just received this link to an article Evan wrote about his experience this summer for the SCA website. It's a great story!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

RIP Damian, 1993-2010

Allan and Damian, 2007
photo by John Chao
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of our most faithful volunteers this afternoon. Many of you know Damian as the golden retriever service dog of volunteer Allan Dreyer. But Damian was a friend and volunteer in his own right, one dedicated to a lifetime of service who spread good will wherever he went. He died peacefully at his home this afternoon at 2:45pm.

Few people know that Damian, in fact, had his own volunteer agreement, signed with his paw print, documenting his important role on our staff. According to this agreement, Damian's duties were to assist Mount Rainier National Park volunteer Allan Dreyer, as well as "spreading good will and good cheer among park visitors and employees; inspiring his coworkers with  his dedication, enthusiasm, and positive demeanor; helping to bring positive attention to the volunteer program at Mount Rainier; and increasing the species diversity of our volunteer staff." While there was certainly a tongue-in-cheek element to Damian's paperwork, his service was beyond question, and he admirably accomplished all of the things listed in his position description and more.

Above all, Damian loved the outdoors, and Allan consistently reported that Damian would perk up when they drove up the road into Mount Rainier National Park. Even when old age led to creaky joints at lower elevations, he would happily bound through the mountain snow like a puppy, accompanying Allan on snowshoe walks or, in the summer, along the trails as a meadow rover. He loved people just as much, and was infinitely patient with visitors who wanted to pet his long, soft, orange fur.

Allan and Damian became volunteers together in August of 2003. Like so many volunteers, Allan had hiked the trails of the park for years before a chance encounter with another volunteer convinced him to ask about joining our program himself. It quickly became apparent that Damian was an equally valuable addition to our crew. Allan wrote a note to the newsletter of Dogs for the Deaf, from whom Damian was adopted in 1994, proudly announcing the news:

"I wanted you to know that Damian has officially been made a VIP -- that is a 'Volunteer in the Park,' at Mount Rainier. The US Park Service used Damian's paw print in lieu of a signature. Damian is a true greeter when we work at the park. When people enter the lodge to sign up for our park-led snowshoe hikes, he greets each of them. Our snowshoe hikes have about twenty people per hike. One of the rangers was complaining to me that the people were raving over Damian and thanking us for having Damian on the hike. The ranger said, 'What about me? I was leading the hike.' So they thanked him for coming along, too.

"Damian is one LOVED dog. People always come up and ask questions about him. He, in turn, loves everyone. The rangers at Mount Rainier love him to pieces. There are few people who are on our hikes who haven't at least one photo of Damian to take home with them."

Our friend died October 28, 2010, at the age of 17, after a long span of declining health. He is survived by his companion and friend, Allan Dreyer, and Allan's wife Lisa, who live in Tacoma. They plan to spread Damian's ashes in the national park he loved so much.

2,016 volunteers!

I've just completed our annual volunteer report for fiscal year 2010 (October 2009 through September 2010), and am pleased to report that, once again, our numbers are up overall over last year. This year we had a total of 2,016 volunteers, up from 1,865 last year. That includes 1,491 people who participated as part of 51 organized groups, and another 525 who participated as individuals, up from 1,406 and 459, respectively, last year. Total hours: 73,990, up from 72,231 last year, a number unprecedented in the history of Mount Rainier National Park except for 2007, the year after the big flood.

Groups contributed a total of 29,546 hours of time, while individuals contributed 44,444. How great a number is that?!

We're excited about the growth of new programs at the park, including citizen science, emergency roadside assistance, and living history. We're also very grateful for the help we've received from numerous community partners, including Washington Trails Association, Student Conservation Association, Mount Rainier National Park Associates, the Tacoma Mountaineers, Evergreen State College, the Boy Scouts of America, and many, many others.

Of course, every little bit adds up, and the success of our program has as much to do with those dedicated individuals who came up half a dozen times to rove the trails at Paradise, or who were only able to squeeze one visit into their busy schedules but contributed half a dozen hours to our grand total. Whatever you contributed, you can claim part of the success of Mount Rainier National Park as your own, and that's a very good thing!

By the way, the non-partisan Independent Sector currently values an hour of volunteer time at $20.85 (the equivalent of a typical employee including benefits), so that 73,990 hours is worth $1.54 million. That's something to be very proud of!

Annual Activity and Expense Report, 2010

Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Volunteers In Parks

Annual Activity and Expense Report
Mount Rainier National Park
Report Date: Oct 28, 2010
Fiscal Year: 2010
Volunteer Coordinator and Park Information

Total Volunteers: 1,971
Alpha Code: MORA
VIP Coordinator: Kevin Bacher
VIP Coordinator Phone: 360-569-2211
Coordinator Email:
Volunteer hours by category:

Administration: 6.00
Campground Host: 3,342.75
Cultural Resource Management: 3,199.00
General Management: 0.00
Interpretation: 18,377.00
Maintenance: 1,782.00
Natural Resource Management: 11,639.25
Protection/Operations/Law Enforcement: 34,870.00
Training: 773.50

[Total: 73,989.75]
Program costs by category:

Housing: $ 3,412.00
Meals: $ 3,434.00
Recognition/Award: $ 59.00
Supplies: $ 12,461.00
Training: $ 404.00
Transportation: $ 3,246.00
Uniforms: $ 3,802.00
Volunteer Program Highlight

Mount Rainier's volunteer program continued to benefit from numerous partnerships. The Washington Trails Association coordinated volunteer efforts on rebuilding the Glacier Basin Trail, with 529 volunteer participating in 53 projects for a total of 5,652 hours of service. The Mount Rainier National Park Associates led monthly projects from April to October. Several Boy Scout troops came to the park as part of an effort coordinated by the Pacific Harbor Council. Evergreen State College brought 40 students for ten days of service-learning. The Student Conservation Association supplied 12 interns and three community crews, and the Washington Conservation Corps supplied a trail team. The National Parks Conservation Association helped organize National Public Lands Day. Seattle and Tacoma's departments of parks and recreation partnered with us to recruit participants and volunteers for our second Camping Adventures with My Parents program. Meanwhile, with the help of Special Project Funding, our living history program quadrupled in size, with help from the drama department at the University of Washington. Our Citizen Science Team grew to 14 people, and our Meadow Rover program involved 156. 36 community groups contributed 29,546 hours, mostly building trail and planting native plants. Other volunteer jobs included emergency roadside assistance, curatorial assistance, mountaineering, archeology, education, interpretation, historic restoration, trail patrol, and public outreach.

How many people at the park require VIP Program Mgmt Training: 8
Optional Information Regarding Housing VIPS and Campground Hosts

Number of Campground Hosts: 6 
Number of VIPs housed in Permanent Structures: 39
Number of VIPs housed in Trailers: 8
Trailer Pads for Volunteers: 6
Other Information

Number of SCAs: 46
SCA Hours: 9924
Number of Artists in Parks: 0
Artist in Parks Hours: 0
Number of International VIPs: 11
International VIPS Hours: 1120
Number of Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps: 0
Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps Hours: 0
Number of Boy Scouts: 80
Boy Scout Hours: 730
Number of Girl Scouts: 0
Girl Scout Hours: 0

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Final Report of 2010 Conservation Crew

Student Conservation Association Partnership with
Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Crew Leaders – Michelle Hessey, Max Gordon

Mt. Rainier National Park hosted three Student Conservation Association (SCA) Conservation Crews during the 2010 summer season.  These crews of eight high school student volunteers and two trained leaders worked in the following locations:

Project Location
Session I
June 28 – July 12, 2010
Glacier Basin Trail Re-Route, White River Campground
Session II
July 19 – Aug 2, 2010
South Puyallup River Trail, Round Pass, West Side Rd
Session III
Aug 9 – Aug 23, 2010
Glacier Basin Trail Re-Route, White River Campground


The Crews
The 2010 Mt. Rainier crew members included: 
Session I
1.     Lena Easton-Calabria – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
2.     Ariana Dionisio – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
3.     Camilla Senter – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
4.     Colleen Cirilo – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
5.     Victoria Yuen – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
6.     Emily Chan – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
7.     Yvonne Chan –N. Cascades Climate Challenge Alum from Shoreline, WA
8.     Sarah Salvador –N. Cascades Climate Challenge Alum from Shoreline, WA
Session II
1.     Emily Ostrove – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
2.     Desiree Silapaxay – NCWild Alumni and SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
3.     Laura Humes –N. Cascades Climate Challenge Alum from Shoreline, WA
4.     Neema Rostami – Bellevue, WA
5.     Martin Horst – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
6.     Bill Lau – SCA School Year Alum from Seattle, WA
Session III
1.     Elise Greiner – Seattle, WA
2.     Thalia Chhan – Seattle, WA
3.     Jennifer Chhan – Seattle, WA
4.     Yulo Leake – Seattle, WA
5.     Jared Johnson – Seattle, WA
6.     Mohib Kohi – SCA Community Crew Alum, Seattle, WA
7.     Christina Jarmick – Two year SCA Alum and MORA Alum from Seattle, WA

These students were led and supervised by SCA Crew Leaders Michelle Hessey of Washington, DC and Max Gordon of Seattle, WA.  Returning Crew Leader, Michelle Hessey, came to this crew with a diverse background in youth and trail work from Washigton, DC as well as a Wilderness First Aid medical certification.  After spending two years living abroad to complete service with the Peace Corps, Max came to this crew as a first time SCA Crew Leader with experience in restoration work and a passion for northwest ecosystems.  He also brought with him a Wilderness First Aid medical certification.


Session I
We focused on the first 100 feet of the Glacier Basin Trail. The trail had been completely washed away during the floods of 2006 when it rained 18 inches in 36 hours. Starting in 2008, Mt. Rainier National Park started to build a reroute of the trail. This summer was the third summer that the park had been working on the trail, and they wanted to open the first 5000 feet of the trail this summer. The beginning of the trail had not been touched because the park did not want hikers to use the new trail until it was finished. We were responsible for breaking new trail at the very beginning of the Glacier Basin trail so that it could be open to the public.

We started by grubbing and digging duff. We had to cut roots, remove trees, fill in holes with rocks, and cover the trail with mineral soil. We spent many days digging and bucket brigading mineral soil and rocks. We also worked on constructing water bars with rocks at tricky drainage points on the trail.

Session II
We built a turnpike over a very wet section of trail. At first, the park had built a boardwalk, but the boardwalk was rotting and had become covered with slippery moss. Our project was to rip up the old boardwalk and replace it with a turnpike.

We ripped up an 80-foot boardwalk and replaced it with a turnpike. In order to complete this task, we had to fill in the muddy areas with rocks to raise the level of the trail so the turnpike would not sink. We had to haul small boulders from a nearby river bed to form the border of the turnpike. Then we placed geofabric along the inside of borders and covered it with fist-sized rocks. Once we made a layer of fist-sized rocks in the geofabric, we folded the geofabric over like a burrito wrap and covered it with more fist-sized rocks and gravel. The geofabric was placed there to prevent the gravel from filling in the gaps between the rocks and preventing the water from passing through.

Session III
The crew was working on the second section of the Glacier Basin reroute, a project started by the Park Service during the summer of 2008 to rebuild a trail that had been washed out by flooding. We were primarily responsible for breaking new trail that included moving large boulders, grubbing duff, and carrying large amounts of rocks and dirt.

Most of the trail work was evening and raising the grade of the trail. We worked on clearing big boulders out of the trail with rock bars. The rocks that were too big were blasted to pieces by the park staff. We also grubbed areas that were not so rocky, and spent a lot of time collecting and stockpiling rocks to use to fill up holes left by huge boulders.

Description of Project
# of Structures
Total Length in Feet
Person Hours
New trail Construction

Reroutes - Glacier Basin Trail Re-Route

300 ft
Tread and Drainage Work

Maintenance  (blowdowns, widening/ sidehill, brushing, clearing drainage structures, etc)

20 ft
Waterbars, Drainage ditches, dips, culverts  (Rock, Timber, Prefab)
7 water bars



Youth Development
      Most of these students joined the SCA Mt. Rainier crews after completing the SCA School Year program in Seattle, WA, which introduced them to the basics of outdoor living and trail work.  However, for some of the crewmembers, this was their first time doing this type of work or even visiting Mt. Rainier National Park.         

For many of these students this was their introduction to sleeping outside under the stars (and rain clouds!), cooking dinner, positive role models, Leave-No-Trace ethics and the rewards of working hard outside.  These students had this amazing experience and will remember Mt. Rainier National Park, your supporting staff and the experience for years to come.  They developed a bond to a natural place close to their home that may lead them towards becoming politically active, into an environmental field or the Park Service.  This SCA – Mt. Rainier partnership enabled all this to happen.  

      All three crews focused on environmental education components such as reducing food wastes, watershed connections, local flora and fauna, etc as well as participated in teambuilding games and activities. They also learned a lot from the rangers that guided the work projects at the different sites.  All three crews participated in the Shadows of the Past tour at Longmire and spoke with Jim Ross about future job opportunities at Mt. Rainier National Park.

Crew Highlights

-       Jim Ross welcoming each crew to the park and talking about future job opportunities
-       White River Campground ranger talks about glaciers, wildlife, and the geology of Mt. Rainier.
-       Shadows of the Past tour at Longmire.
-       Solo walks along the Wonderland Trail to get connected to the natural phenomenon of the park.
-       Plant identification through an activity called "Each one, teach one" in which each member taught all the other crew members about a specific plant.
-       Visits to Sunrise to learn about glaciers, and to the grove of the patriarchs
-       MORA II hiked 5 miles round trip after work one day to the look-out at Gobblers Knob to see the sunset over Mt. Rainier. For one rec day, we took an 11-mile hike to see Emerald Ridge and the South Tacoma River.
-       MORA III was visited by by Congressman Dave Reichert
-       Glacier Basin Ranger James Montgomery talked about job opportunities at the park
-       SCA intern Kenton Curtis taught the crew about ways to get involved with SCA that were different than trail work.
-       They learned about plants and trees in the park, how to work together as members of a team, how to cook outside, and how to handle tools and build trails.
-       Each crew member was the leader for the day. This person decided who would work on what task during the day, decided what time we would take lunch and breaks, and decided how long the breaks would be. The leader of the day was also responsible for talking to the agency partners (along with crew leaders) to figure out what our goals and tasks for the day would be.

Thank you
Much appreciation goes to Mt. Rainier National Park for having three SCA crews join you this year!  Special acknowledgement goes to Carl Fabiani and Kevin Bacher for all the preprogram work, logistics and projects preparation.  Thanks again!