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!


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