Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New webcam at Longmire!

At long last, our webcam at Longmire has gone live! We now have six webcams at Paradise, for goodness sake, and a summer webcam at Camp Muir, so it was high time we got one at Longmire. The camera is located in the conference room on the second floor of our administration building, just two doors down from my office, so you can now see roughly the same view I have out my office window, looking across the grounds to the Longmire Museum and the road leading up from the Nisqually Entrance, with the National Park Inn hidden behind the trees in the distance. Watch for school groups gathering at the beginning of the Trail of the Shadows. In the summer, look for shuttle buses arriving to take visitors up to Paradise. This time of year, you might see people building snowmen in front of the administration building. Enjoy the show!

The above is Longmire. Here, just for comparison, is the view from the visitor center at Paradise:

And from Camp Muir (don't expect anyone to go up and defog the camera lens until spring):

Friday, November 18, 2011

Snow Rover training scheduled

From West District Interpreter Lee Snook:

Winter is on its way -- or is it here?! There are already several inches of snow on the ground at Longmire. As the fall colors give way to the white of snow some think it’s time to hang up the boots and wait for melt out next year, but many of you know this is when the fun really begins. The winter wonderland of Paradise opens a whole new set of recreational opportunities and special ways to explore the mountain. This means we still need volunteer rovers! With the ever-changing weather conditions in the winter, having rovers on the trails talking to visitors, answering questions and providing staff with trail updates is just as important as having them out there in the summer.

Snow Rovers assist in a variety of ways. Besides making contacts with visitors and assessing conditions, rovers can also help by resetting wands on marked trails, check in with winter campers, assist with snowshoe programs and snow play, relay information about wildlife, as well as staff the visitor center desk.

If you love snowshoeing or skiing or you just love being on the mountain and want to help out, we will be holding a Snow Rover training on December 10th at the Longmire Community building. Training will include how to snow rove safely as well as Leave No Trace principles. We will send out the day’s agenda by early December. Please RSVP to the email below.

If you have questions feel free to email the rover coordinators Curt Jacquot and Bill Marsh at MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov.

Volunteer Opportunities for 2012!

I've just completed an exhaustive review and update of our complete listing of volunteer opportunities. Follow the link at the top of the page for the very latest information on our plans for volunteer day-projects, long-term volunteer opportunities, and full-time positions and internships. Opportunities exist for both individuals and groups. With a few exceptions (e.g. Campground Hosts), most are not yet hiring for next summer, and many have not even advertised their positions yet, or decided whether they will have the resources to do so. But this will give you a good guide to what positions we've hired in the past, and what we might anticipate hiring in the future.

It's never too soon to inquire about volunteer opportunities, so browse through the list, find something that touches your interests, and follow the directions to either apply or contact the appropriate supervisor to express your interest! You can also follow this blog, our Twitter feed, or our Facebook page, or contact me, Volunteer Program Manager Kevin Bacher, and ask to be added to our mailing list for updates monthly during the summer and intermittently through the winter.

Speaking of winter: One of the most common questions asked of me this time of year is, how can I volunteer during the winter? The truth is, not many opportunities are available when trails and plants are buried by snow--that is, from November through May or June in most parts of the park. But options are available:

  • Nordic Patrol. We work in partnership with the Washington Ski Touring Club to provide ski patrol services at Paradise, including marking trail routes and assisting visitors. This requires a very dedicated and spirited kind of volunteer, but those who contribute provide an invaluable service. People interested in this opportunity should contact WSTC directly at http://www.wstc.org/, as we work with the group, not with individuals. If you have questions about ski patrol at Mount Rainier, contact Daniel Camiccia at 360-569-6652.
  • Visitor center and snowshoe walks. Most of the work in our visitor centers, and on the trails leading snowshoe walks, is done by our permanent and seasonal staff. However, there are always busy times like the Christmas holidays when we're short staffed and welcome the help of volunteers. Anyone interested in these opportunities should contact us well in advance of the winter season so that they can participate in our winter seasonal training in early December. In other words, if you're interested this year, now is the time to contact our West District Interpreter, Lee Snook, to express your interest. Her number is 360-569-6576.
  • Greenhouse assistance. Our greenhouse is active throughout the slow months, and we're always open to working with volunteers who are willing to commit to coming out on a regular basis to help us weed, pot, and care for our plants, most of which will be used on revegetation projects during the summer. We especially need help in the spring as we're gearing up for the season. For more information, see our listing on volunteer.gov, or contact Josh Drown at 360-569-6766.
  • Curatorial library. Brooke Childrey, our museum curator, works with many volunteers to sort and store our archives, photos, and historic artifacts collections. Our full-time curator positions are filled for this winter already, but there may still be possibilities for the right person to help with special projects on an intermittent basis. Call Brooke at 360-569-6784.
  • Education program. Our curriculum-based education program works with many school groups in the spring and fall, and also has a number of curriculum-development projects underway. We have a full staff on board for the winter, but individuals with education experience can often help out. For more information, contact Fawn Bauer at 360-569-6591.
  • Lower elevation opportunities. While we're under heavy snow for half the year, many of our partners work at lower elevation under the snowline. Consider volunteering with them through the winter! The Washington Trails Association, for example, has a long list of volunteer projects. Olympic National Park has land as low as sea level, and their annual Coast Cleanup is legendary. Check out the website of Washington's National Park Fund and the National Parks Conservation Association to learn about opportunities to contribute financially or through advocacy. You can also find great opportunities throughout the region on the websites volunteer.gov/gov and serve.gov.
There are lots of ways to get involved in your public lands, any time of the year. Wherever you contribute, thanks for your time!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Annual Activity and Expense Report

Here, at last, are the statistics for this year's volunteer program. Total volunteers are 1,728, and volunteer hours are 74,504. This is 514 more hours than last year, and 288 fewer volunteers. Based on estimates of volunteer value from Independent Sector, our volunteer contribute roughly $1.6 million worth of service to Mount Rainier National Park.

The largest reductions in our numbers of volunteers were in the revegetation program, which had more than 300 fewer volunteers, and our WTA partnership, which lagged behind last year's record numbers by about 80 people (but still contributed 448). The reveg numbers were down due to a few large school groups not returning this year. Not sure if this is because these schools are taking fewer field trips in general, or because our Sunrise reveg site is much less convenient than the one at Paradise had been -- I suspect more of the latter than the former.

The reductions were partially made up for by increases in other areas, including archeology, Meadow Rovers, Citizen Science, and Boy Scouts. More analysis to come!

Meanwhile, here are the details:

Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Volunteers In Parks

Annual Activity and Expense Report
Mount Rainier National Park
Report Date: Oct 31, 2011
Fiscal Year: 2011

Volunteer Coordinator and Park Information

Total Volunteers: 1,728
Alpha Code: MORA
VIP Coordinator: Kevin Bacher
VIP Coordinator Phone: 360-569-2211
Coordinator Email: kevin_bacher@nps.gov

Volunteer hours by category:

Administration: 43.00
Campground Host: 2,549.00
Cultural Resource Management: 6,817.00
General Management: 3,936.00
Interpretation: 13,682.00
Maintenance: 2,246.00
Natural Resource Management: 9,163.00
Protection/Operations/Law Enforcement: 35,395.00
Training: 673.00

[Total hours: 74,504.00] [Last year: 73,990]

Program costs by category:

Housing: $ 4,691.00
Meals: $ 1,210.00
Recognition/Award: $ 422.00
Supplies: $ 12,085.00
Training: $ 375.00
Transportation: $ 2,377.00
Uniforms: $ 4,585.00

[Total costs: $ 25,745.00]

Volunteer Program Highlight

Our program continues to grow, with new projects taking the place of completed ones. The Glacier Basin Trail was rebuilt after 3 years of work. Our partnership with the Washington Trails Association brought in 448 people, many of whom are now regular volunteers. A hundred Boy Scouts worked on 3 days of projects in August. Scout participation was up in general, with troops helping with trails, revegetation, and citizen science. Park programs worked with youth interns from SCA, the Geologic Society, and The Evergreen State College to complete a transportation study, a historic architecture study, stream surveys, and a parkwide safety review. Thirty members of SCA's Community Program in Seattle helped with trail projects. Central Washington University contributed 2560 hours of archeology. This was also an opportunity for citizen science, as park visitors were invited to help on the dig site. Other citizen science volunteers surveyed amphibians and butterflies and led activities for Keep Wildlife Wild day. Our Meadow Rover program turned in record hours thanks to 2 full-time coordinators, despite a late spring meltout. Overall, volunteer hours were up, but volunteer numbers were down. The largest single reason was a reduction of more than 300 participants in our revegetation program, due to the completion of an easily accessible project at Paradise that had previously brought in large numbers of school volunteers. The new work site, at Sunrise, is much more remote.


How many people at the park require VIP Program Management Training: 12

Optional Information Regarding Housing VIPs and Campground Hosts

Number of Campground Hosts: 5
Number of VIPs housed in Permanent Structures: 57
Number of VIPs housed in Trailers: 7
Trailer Pads for Volunteers: 5

Other Information

Number of SCAs: 41
SCA Hours: 8,203
Number of Artists in Parks: 0
Artist in Parks Hours: 0
Number of International VIPs: 9
International VIPS Hours: 720
Number of Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps: 0
Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps Hours: 0
Number of Boy Scouts: 168
Boy Scout Hours: 1,173
Number of Girls Scouts: 10
Girl Scout Hours: 30
Number of Wounded Warriors: 0
Wounded Warriors Hours: 0

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Miltimores featured on REI blog

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) has just featured two of our volunteers, Jim and Carol Miltimore, on their blog! It's a very comprehensive article for which they actually sent a reporter out to do an interview and take pictures of them at work on the Mountain.

If you've ever wondered how wide a range of volunteer opportunities are available at Mount Rainier, this article will give you a sense for it -- because the Miltimores have participated in just about everything, from sorting historic photos to packing human waste out from backcountry campsites ("It's not as bad as it sounds," says Carol)!

Read the whole article here on the REI Blog.

Photos from National Public Lands Day

Hands in the earth

THANK YOU to everyone for another successful National Public Lands Day! We're still compiling the statistics, but it looks like about a hundred people helped out with trail maintenance and revegetation at White River Campground and Sunrise. The day was warm, breezy, and partly cloudy, about as good as anyone could hope to expect at the end of September at 6,000 feet! The Glacier Basin Rededication went smoothly, with special guest appearances by Carl Fabiani, retired trails foreman; Alan Carter Mortimer, Field Director of the Washington Trails Association (WTA); Liz Reynolds, Mayor of Enumclaw; and a lot of enthusiastic volunteers. Special thanks, also, to the National Parks Conservation Association for helping to sponsor the event (and bringing coffee), and to WTA for leading projects and bringing cookies for the after-party!

The photos above and below are only three of 120 you can enjoy on my Flickr photo site. We'd love to see your pictures and hear your stories, too!

National Public Lands Day 2011

Elizabeth (above) and Clara (below) help with the revegetation project at Sunrise on National Public Lands Day.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Presidential Proclamation -- National Public Lands Day

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For immediate release                                      September 22, 2011

National Public Lands Day, 2011

- - - - - - -

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
     At the dawn of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt embarked on a tour of the American West that forever changed our Nation's relationship with the outdoors. His visits to Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and other natural wonders instilled in him a commitment to conservation, and they motivated him to designate millions of acres of protected land. Today, our public lands system is a model of conservation and an important resource for clean energy, grazing, and recreation ‑‑ vital economic engines in both rural and urban communities.

     On National Public Lands Day, we take time to appreciate our parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and other public spaces, and we recommit to protecting and restoring them for future generations. This year, thousands of dedicated volunteers will continue a proud American tradition by conserving and restoring our public lands with local projects across our Nation [including at Mount Rainier National Park]. Americans will restore hiking trails, remove invasive plant species, clean lakes, and pick up litter in city parks. Through their service, families and children will find opportunities for outdoor activity on the millions of acres of national forests, parks, and trails.

     To maintain our environmental heritage and build a responsive conservation and recreation agenda, my Administration launched the America's Great Outdoors Initiative last year. We met with thousands of Americans in listening sessions across our country, and compiled the results of this national conversation in the report, America's Great Outdoors:  A Promise to Future Generations. To act on these findings, we are undertaking projects in collaboration with State, local, and tribal governments to responsibly steward the lands that belong to all Americans. First Lady Michelle Obama also joined in support of getting Americans outside when the Let's Move! initiative, in coordination with the Department of the Interior, launched Let's Move Outside! to help families exercise in the great outdoors.

     Countless Americans have experienced the same awe and wonder that President Roosevelt felt on his westward journey. By joining in this legacy of conservation, Americans young and old protect not only our lands, but also the promise that future generations will be able to carry forward the spirit of adventure that lies at the heart of our Nation.

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 24, 2011, as National Public Lands Day. I encourage all Americans to participate in a day of public service for our lands.

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty‑second day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MRNPA's Final Work Party for 2011 - October 1st!


The last Mount Rainier National Park Associates trails work party for 2011 will be on Saturday, October 1st. We will be working on the Rain Forest Loop Trail at the Carbon River entrance. I am told we will be doing maintenance on the trail tread and possibly some repair of the wooden bridges. As always, volunteers should bring a lunch and plenty of fluids to drink, work gloves, safety glasses, a hard hat if they have one, and a full set of rain gear. October is frequently rainy, so bring some dry clothes too.

We will meet at between 8:30 and 9:00 AM, and be ready to go to work by 9:00 AM.

If you plan to attend this work party, please sign up at www.mrnpa.org and tell me that you are coming, how many volunteers you are bringing with you. I need an estimate of the number of volunteers so that Park staff can be sure to have enough tools for us all. If you have a hard hat that you will be wearing, please tell me that too.

There are safety equipment requirements for all MRNPA trail work volunteers. (These rules apply to all trail workers.) Anyone using an aggressive tool - like a Pulaski, ax, shovel, etc. - or anyone working near them - is required to wear both a hard hat and safety glasses. People not working with or near an aggressive tools are not required (but will be encouraged) to wear a hard hat. If you own a hard hat that you can wear, please bring it. If you do not have a hard hat, we have hard hats that we loan for the day.

Wearing safety glasses is encouraged at all times. Not all safety glasses are comfortable for everyone and some will not fit over eye glasses. Because of cleanliness issues, some people don't like wearing safety glasses that have been worn by other people. For these reasons, and probably many others, please purchase (acquire, find, dig-up, whatever) a pair of personal safety glasses that you will wear. The local hardware store is a good place to start shopping. A serviceable pair or safety glasses will cost about $10. And be advised that shatterproof eye glasses do not meet the requirement for safety glasses. Safety glasses all have side protection which eyeglasses do not.

If you are not able to attend the MRNPA work party on October 1st, but are interested in volunteering at Mount Rainier National Park, please take a look at the following message from Mount Rainier National Park concerning National Public Lands Day on September 24th. That may interest you.

John TitlandVolunteer CoordinatorMount Rainier National Park Associates

Volunteers will work on trails, planting, and rededication of Glacier Basin Trail at Mount Rainier on National Public Lands Day, September 24

Mount Rainier National Park News Release
September 19, 2011
For Immediate Release
Kevin Bacher, Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager
360-569-6567, Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov

Volunteers will work on trails, planting, and rededication of Glacier Basin Trail at Mount Rainier on National Public Lands Day, September 24 – Entrance fees to be waived

On National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24, 2011, more than a hundred volunteers will assemble at Mount Rainier National Park to plant native plants, maintain trails, and rededicate the Glacier Basin Trail after four summers of repairs. The work day will cap a highly successful season during which about 2,000 people have contributed to the protection of Mount Rainier’s natural and cultural treasures and helped serve its visitors.

National Public Lands Day is an annual celebration of public involvement in the stewardship of America’s national, state, and local parks and forests. More than 120,000 individuals are expected to participate in events all over the country. In recognition of this, entrance fees will be waived at all national parks for the day. Volunteers will receive an additional coupon for free admission on a day of their choice.

Members of the public are invited to join in the day’s work. The National Parks Conservation Association and the Washington Trails Association will help coordinate the event and lead volunteer projects. Participants may register at the event, or pre-register by e-mailing Mariely Lemagne at mlemagne@npca.org.

National Public Lands Day volunteers will sign in at the amphitheater in White River Campground, in the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park, beginning at 8:00 a.m. Travelers should note that the Stevens Canyon Road in the park is closed due to construction. The White River Campground can be reached via State Highways 410 or 123.

At 9:00 a.m., the Glacier Basin Trail will be rededicated in a short ceremony recognizing the many groups and individuals who contributed to the project. The popular trail was devastated by flooding in November 2006, and would have taken many times as long to rebuild without help from the public, said Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager at Mount Rainier. “The Glacier Basin Trail is a perfect example of the power of partnerships,” said Bacher. “On our own, we can slowly chip away at a project. But together, we can move mountains.”

In addition to National Park Service crews, participants in the reconstruction have included Alpine Ascents International; Boy Scout troops 224, 436, the Pacific Harbors Council, and T’kope Kwiskwis Lodge 502; EarthCorps; the Northwest Youth Corps; Recreational Equipment, Inc.; sailors from the USS Henry M. Jackson; and the Washington Conservation Corps. The Washington Trails Association leads about 500 volunteers per year in the park, many of them at Glacier Basin, and continues to be an invaluable partner in trail maintenance. Interns and Seattle-based youth crews from the Student Conservation Association work throughout the park on projects including volunteer coordination. The Mount Rainier National Park Associates coordinate volunteer projects every month throughout the summer.

After the dedication ceremony, volunteers of all ages will help with revegetation efforts at Sunrise and with several trail projects near White River Campground. Volunteers should come prepared for cool, wet weather, with warm clothing, rain gear, sturdy footwear, and gloves. If the weather is nice, sunglasses, sunscreen, and hats are recommended. Volunteers should also bring water, snacks, and a lunch. Volunteers will re-gather at the amphitheater in White River Campground at 3:30 p.m. for a more informal celebration, with refreshments provided by the Washington Trails Association.

In addition to trail maintenance, volunteers at Mount Rainier National Park patrol wilderness areas and climbing routes, assist and educate visitors, conduct research as citizen scientists, plant native plants, provide roadside assistance, and catalogue historic records. Last year, 2,016 volunteers contributed 73,990 hours of service, an effort valued at $1.54 million.

Information about Mount Rainier’s volunteer program, including a list of open positions, a calendar of activities, and pictures and videos of volunteers in action may be found on Mount Rainier National Park’s website at www.nps.gov/mora, or on its volunteer program blog at rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com.

- NPS -

Friday, September 16, 2011

NPLD: An updated project list

Have you signed up to attend National Public Lands Day and the Glacier Basin Trail rededication on Saturday, September 24? Lots of people have already done so, and it looks like it's going to be a great day of service! In case you forget the details, click here to read our original announcement, then RSVP as follows:

  • All volunteers should send a note to Mariely Lemagne at NPCA at mlemagne@npca.org. You may also register in person on the day of the event, but signing up ahead of time will help us with planning.
  • If you're planning to participate in the Washington Trails Association project (see the full list below), sign up on their website. Note that WTA will also be doing trail work on Friday the 23rd, and Sunday the 25th, so consider coming early or staying a day longer, and sign up for those dates too!
  • We've set aside a block of campsites at White River for volunteers to use on Friday and/or Saturday night. To ensure that we have enough sites set aside, if you plan to camp, please RSVP to Kevin Bacher at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov. A block of sites (probably in "A" loop) will be reserved for our use.
Meanwhile, here (subject to change) are the projects currently on the docket for September 24th:

Revegetation: Restoration specialist Will Arnesen will be leading a large team of volunteers in restoring the site of the former drive-in campground at Sunrise. He can take a nearly unlimited number of volunteers of all ages.

Trail maintenance: Several trails projects will be happening at White River and Sunrise. Each is limited to about 12 people. These projects are most appropriate for adults or older children:
  • Wonderland Trail between White River and Sunrise, rebuilding turnpikes and tread repairs, two crews (Washington Trails Association and NPS).
  • Wonderland Trail between White River and Sunrise, brushing, NPS crew.
  • Sunrise Rim Trail, tread repair, NPS crew.
  • Wonderland Trail between Frozen Lake and the Northern Loop Junction, tread repair, NPS crew.
One final note: The National Public Lands Day organization and REI are sponsoring a "Volunteers in Action" photo contest, with a grand prize REI camping package worth $600. Check out the details ahead of time if you plan to participate, and download the photo release form linked to their contest rules. Images from Mount Rainier have won in the past!

We look forward to seeing you at White River Campground at 9:00 a.m. on September 24!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mount Rainier National Park Volunteer Newsletter: September 2011

It has been a busy summer here at Mount Rainier National Park and while the 2011 summer season may be winding down, there is still an array of volunteer opportunities happening due to the late season melt off. So be sure to mark your calendars and come enjoy what is shaping up to be an extended summer around here at Mount Rainier!

In the meantime, catch up on what we have been up to this past month with these headlines from the Mount Rainier National Park volunteer blog.

Mark Your Calendars: National Public Lands Day and Glacier Basin Trail Rededication on 9/24!
National Public Lands Day will be happening on Saturday, September 24th and we are pleased to announce that most the projects and celebration will occur on the East side of the park within the White River and Sunrise area. Special events and volunteer opportunities will include re-vegetation, trail maintenance projects along the Wonderland Trail, and a rededication ceremony for the now completed Glacier Basin Trail.

Student Conservation Association Crews are Hard at Work at Mount Rainier
SCA is a major partner of the National Park Service, and each year fields many individual interns and crews at Mount Rainier and other parks, who contribute thousands of hours of volunteer service in return for a small stipend and a fantastic summer experience. We've had a total of three Conservation Leadership Corps groups in the park this summer, funded by a grants from the Park Service's Youth Internship Program and the Student Conservation Association.

Japanese Volunteers Return for an 18th Year
Almost every year since 1993, students from Waseda University in Tokyo have been visiting Mount Rainier National Park through the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA) to conduct volunteer projects. They typically stay for three weeks, live with host families in the local community, and get a lot of work done.

Keep up with current volunteer events, upcoming training opportunities, and the latest news by clicking on the calendar of activities at the top of this blog.

You will also find projects through the Washington Trails Association (WTA) and the Mount Rainier National Park Associates (MRNPA).

Washington Trails Association Projects

Contact WTA through their website for details and to register for these projects:

September 16, 17, & 18 – Wonderland Trail at Sunrise Trailhead
September 23, 24, & 25 – Wonderland Trail at White River Trailhead

Mount Rainier National Park Associates Projects

Contact MRNPA through their website for details and to register for these projects:

October 1 – Trail Maintenance at Carbon River

Event Volunteer Opportunities

September 24 – National Public Lands Day:

Every year on the last Saturday of September, Mount Rainier brings its summer volunteer program to a close with a massive volunteer day, offering volunteer opportunities throughout the park including trail maintenance and re-vegetation. This year’s event is taking shape on the east side of the park, with projects at Sunrise and White River. To learn more about these events please visit our blog or contact Kevin Bacher at (360) 569-6567 or kevin_bacher@nps.gov.

Group Projects

If you are a part of a group and/or organization that is looking for a project at the park we have several projects that require groups ranging in size from 5 to 100. Multi-day projects can use volunteers for a single day, or for several days at a stretch. Here are some options:
Native Plant Restoration:Our re-vegetation crews will be busy with drop in re-vegetation projects in the Sunrise are during the next two Saturdays (9/17 and 9/24).

Groups of almost unlimited size are welcome to help, either for single days or multiple day stretches. Contact Will Arnesen at 360-569-6762 to arrange a date for your group.

Individual Openings

Interested in volunteering for a longer period of time, or return regularly throughout the season to help with extended projects? We have many opportunities to choose from!

Follow these links for details and to apply for any project that interests you:

Meadow Rover: Help us protect the subalpine meadows above Paradise and Sunrise by patrolling trails and educating visitors about the importance of staying on trails.

Plant Propagation (Greenhouse Assistant): Help grow plants for transplanting in the subalpine meadows.

Citizen Science Team: Survey frogs, salamanders, and other species in the park's backcountry! Please note that Citizen Science projects have now ended for the 2011 season, please check back with us regarding future projects in spring 2012.


Besides the obvious benefits of volunteering at a National Park (time outdoors, meeting new people, sense of accomplishment), our volunteers get free entrance to the park on their days of service, as well as free use of the Longmire Campground (and the only campground showers within the park!).We are consistently updating our blog with all the latest information and opportunities to volunteer at Mount Rainier.

If you would like to get involved in any of the programs you have read about it this newsletter get in touch with either Patti Poulin (360.569.6588 or patricia_poulin@partner.nps.gov) or Kevin Bacher (360.569.6567 or kevin_bacher@nps.gov).

Thank you for supporting Mount Rainier National Park and we look forward to working with you!

REI grant supports WTA which supports Mount Rainier National Park

Recreational Equipment, Inc. has awarded at $20,000 grant to the Washington Trails Association to support their trail maintenance program. Among many other places in Washington state, WTA leads regular volunteer projects on the trails at Mount Rainier National Park, so those efforts are indirectly supported by the grant. In fact, projects are coming up both this weekend and next that you can sign up for now! Last year, 529 WTA volunteers contributed 5,652 hours in the park. Thank you, REI, for your help!

Read all about it here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mark your calendars: National Public Lands Day and Glacier Basin Trail rededication on 9/24!

WTA volunteers
It's time again for Mount Rainier National Park's biggest volunteer event of the year! Mark your calendars now and plan to join us on Saturday, September 24 for a combination event. First, we'll be rededicating the Glacier Basin Trail, which volunteers and park partners have helped rebuild over the past three summers following its destruction in the November 2006 flood. Then, we'll disperse for a variety of volunteer projects, including more trail maintenance and a major revegetation effort at Sunrise. Finally, anyone who's interested will re-gather at the White River Campground for snacks and a more informal celebration and sharing of stories about the Glacier Basin Trail reconstruction.

SCA's Conservation Leadership Corps
2011 statistics aren't in yet, but from 2008 through 2010, volunteers and youth organizations like the Washington Conservation Corps and Student Conservation Association contributed 49,497 hours of time on the Glacier Basin Trail, an effort worth almost $1.06 million based on current figures from Independent Sector. The work has been done by National Park Service trail crews, partner groups, community groups, and hundreds of individuals who have worked on the project through the Washington Trails Association. WTA volunteers alone contributed about 15,000 hours of service over the three year period. The Student Conservation Association has fielded more than 8,000 hours of trail teams, national crews, and members of their Community Programs, made up of high school students mostly from the Seattle area.

NPCA's registration booth
Other key partners on the project have included Alpine Ascents International; Boy Scout Troops 224 and 436, as well as the Pacific Harbors Council and the T'kope Kwiswis Lodge 502 in Seattle; EarthCorps; the Mount Rainier National Park Associates; the Northwest Youth Corps; REI Adventures; and soldiers from the U.S.S. Henry M. Jackson. About 500 volunteers worked on the project each year (with a lot of overlap from year to year).

All volunteers who contributed to the Glacier Basin Trail reconstruction are invited to return for the rededication, and stay for National Public Lands Day!

Revegetation volunteers at Sunrise
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) will be returning again this year to help coordinate National Public Lands Day. Volunteers can choose from several projects. The National Park Service and WTA will both be leading trail maintenance projects on sections of the Wonderland Trail departing from White River Campground. Meanwhile, at Sunrise, Mount Rainier's restoration team will lead volunteers in replanting the old Sunrise Campground with native plants. For either project, volunteers should bring a lunch, snacks, water, layered clothing that you can get dirty in, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring your own gloves if you have a pair that works well for you. All ages are welcome! Other projects may be added between now and September 24th as well.

Registration for National Public Lands Day will be hosted by NPCA at the Amphitheater in White River Campground. Volunteers may choose to stay overnight for free in the campground the night before September 24th and/or the night after. Please RSVP with your intentions (see details below). WTA will be working on the Wonderland Trail again on Sunday, September 25th.

Event Details

WHAT: National Public Lands Day and Glacier Basin Trail Rededication

WHEN: Saturday, September 24, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
8:00 a.m. Event Registration
9:00 a.m. Glacier Basin trail dedication
10:00 a.m. Trail and meadow restoration
3:30 p.m. Informal gathering and celebration
WHERE: All events take place at, or depart from, White River Campground at Mount Rainier National Park. Click here for a map and directions. Stevens Canyon Road will be closed to the public that day due to road construction. Please enter the park via Highway 410 or 123.

RSVP: If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Mariely Lemagne at NPCA at mlemagne@npca.org. If you plan to camp overnight, please RSVP with those plans to Kevin Bacher at Mount Rainier National Park at Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov. If you wish to join a WTA work crew on Saturday or Sunday, please also register online at http://www.wta.org/volunteer/trail-work-parties.

OTHER INFO: Entry to all national park units will be free on National Public Lands Day! Volunteers who register at White River Campground will receive a coupon for free entrance to Mount Rainier National Park on a future date of your choosing. Please bring work gloves and dress appropriately for the weather and activity. Suncreen, hats, and raincoats are recommended. You will also want to bring your lunch and a water bottle to stay hydrated.

We hope you will join us for the Glacier Basin Trail rededication and National Public Lands Day!

Design VIP program produces video introduction to volunteering in the national parks

One of the unique volunteer opportunities available at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco is a program called "Design Volunteers in Parks,"an innovative program which works in collaboration with students from the Academy of Art University, R/GA, and Ex'pression College." The program helps students connect with the natural and cultural resources of their national parks while demonstrating skills in new media design in projects created for the National Park Service.

The DVIP program has just released this video introduction to volunteering in the national parks. It's a great video to share with anyone who might be considering becoming a volunteer!

DVIP: Volunteers In Parks Orientation Video from G Su on Vimeo.

Two winters ago, Three Moon Bay video company donated a similar production to Mount Rainier National Park, called "Mount Rainier National Park: the 21st Century Volunteer." Like the DVIP video, it focuses on our local park while conveying the message of volunteerism in national parks generally. That video occupies a permanent place at the bottom of this blog page, and a shorter, 30-second teaser featuring Shelton Johnson of Yosemite National Park is in the upper right. You can also enjoy all of our videos on our YouTube and Vimeo channels!

Third Annual Keep Wildlife Wild Event a Great Success!

This year the volunteers for the third annual “Keep Wildlife Wild” event took a positive approach to educating visitors about the importance of not feeding the wildlife in the park.

Leading by example, 21 volunteers targeted picnic areas along the Nisqually and Steven’s Canyon corridors with brooms and dustpans to sweep up crumbs left by picnickers. They shooed deer from the roadsides to keep them safer from traffic and “well intentioned” feeding, as well as Townsend’s chipmunks, Douglas squirrels, Steller’s and grey jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, and ravens from their usual spots around picnickers. Uniformed in shirts with the “Keep Wildlife Wild” logo and the message PEOPLE≠FOOD, most volunteers took to the park’s free shuttle bus system to provide informative handouts and stickers to visitors along the stops of the bus route.

Many of the volunteers had backgrounds in teaching and outdoor stewardship. The group was made up of both new and returning participants whose dedication to wildlife protection and visitor education helped make the event a success.

Thanks go out to all who participated!

-Sarah Yates
Wildlife Biologist
Mount Rainier National Park

Thursday, September 8, 2011

MRNPA Re-Vegetation Work Party - This Saturday (Sept. 10th)!


The Mount Rainier National Park Associates annual meadow revegetation work party will take place at Sunrise this coming Saturday, September 10th. If plan on attending this work party and have not already contacted me, please contact MRNPA as soon as possible to let me that you are coming and the number of volunteers that you are bringing with you.

An update: My wife Jane and I were at Sunrise today. The sky was cloud free and the temperature was in the high 70s. The forecast is for this coming Saturday is for more of the same. So be sure to bring a sun hat, sunscreen, and plenty of fluids to drink.

Also noted: the wildflowers were putting on an amazing show of color for this late in the year. I don't think I have ever before seen so many flowers blooming at Sunrise.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Saturday, September 3, 2011

National Day of Service: Honoring the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

This upcoming Sunday will mark the tenth anniversary of September 11th, a day that has left a mark within the hearts of all of us. In 2009 the National Day of Service and Remembrance was established in an effort to unite our nation. By encouraging Americans to participate in service and remembrance activities on the 9/11 anniversary, this special event aims to provide a productive and respectful way to honor those who perished while rekindling the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after this tragic event.

In honor of 9/11 and to share in remembrance, Mount Rainier National Park in conjunction with community partners will be hosting a variety of service projects located throughout the park and open to volunteers of all ages.

Please consider joining us in remembrance this weekend by participating in one of the special projects listed below.

Saturday – September 10th

Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Project: Planting wildflower seedlings near Sunrise, working to convert a historic campground area back into alpine meadows.

Where: Meet at the Sunrise parking lot between 8:30 and 9:00am

For more information or to sign up for this project visit http://www.mrnpa.org/

Washington Trails Association

Project: Trail maintenance

Where: Wonderland Trail at Sunrise Trailhead

For more information or to sign up for this project visit http://www.wta.org/

Sunday – September 11th

Washington Trails Association

Project: Trail maintenance

Where: Wonderland Trail at Sunrise Trailhead

For more information or to sign up for this project visit http://www.wta.org/

Japanese volunteers return for 18th year

Revegetation at Paradise
Photos by Kay Ishii
Almost every year since 1993, students from Waseda University in Tokyo have been visiting Mount Rainier National Park through the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA) to conduct volunteer projects. They typically stay for three weeks, live with host families in the local community, and get a lot of work done.

This year, despite the major earthquake in Japan this winter, nine students have spent the past two weeks working on revegetation projects at Paradise and campground restoration at Ipsut Creek. They'll be here another week before returning home, helping to paint the park's newly acquired facilities at the Thompson Ranch near the Carbon River entrance.

Meanwhile, J-VIPA is deeply involved in recovery work in Japan. This year's group leader, Hitomi Saito, for example, who has been to Mount Rainier twice before, attended a memorial service in Sendai just days before flying to Washington. Read all about their efforts on their website: in Japanese (with bilingual earthquake reports in both English and Japanese), or via a Google translation. Members of the local Mount Rainier community had, as of April 30th, contributed almost $3,500 toward J-VIPA's work in Japan.

Next year will be J-VIPA's last work year at Mount Rainier --  not because they've given up on us, but because they're expanding their work to other national parks around the country. Over the past 18 years, more than 320 students have served at our park, many of them multiple times, and they've contributed more than 21,000 hours of effort worth an estimated $450,000 in today's dollars. More importantly, of course, they've also led to long and lasting friendships between people in two countries, and our lives have been enriched by their partnership.

Thank you to this year's students: Akiko Uemae, Kanako Itohara, Julia Martel, Chiaki Kusui, Hitomi Saito, Sachiyo Wakabayashi, Natsumi Yoshioka, Tatsuya Matsubayashi, and Kaoru Kajigayama!

For more photos of this year's crew in action, visit Kay Ishii's photo page on Picasa.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Only Three Time Slots Left at the Fair!

Hi volunteers!

We've had a great response to our call for volunteers to staff the park's booth at the Puyallup Fair. In fact, it was so good we have only three shifts left to fill.

They are all evening shifts (5 PM to 8:30 PM). If you volunteer you will receive a parking pass and two admission passes. You can take a friend or significant other, do the fair during the day and finish off the day at our booth. What a deal.

The dates available are Tuesday the 13th, Friday the 16th, and Tuesday 20th. I do most of the evening shifts but the boss insists that I have two days off a week (Monday-Tuesdays) and I have to announce a football game on that Friday night.

If you would like to help out, please email me at jim_ross@nps.gov .

Jim Ross
Outreach Specialist

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Miltimores featured on MSNBC.com

This morning when I checked the news headlines on MSNBC, there in the travel section was an article about our own Jim and Carol Miltimore and their extraordinary contributions to Mount Rainier National Park! It wasn't a complete surprise, as I'd been interviewed a while back for the story (my "quote" in the article seems to have been embellished a bit, but at least it's still accurate).

My favorite quote from the piece: "Imagine the impact on the national deficit if every able-bodied man and women in America contributed on behalf of the federal government the way the Miltimores do for free. And they consider it their privilege." That pretty well sums up the attitude of all of our volunteers -- both those who, like the Miltimores, volunteer almost full-time in their retirement, and the individuals who squeeze in a few hours between jobs (or job hunting) and their kids' soccer practice. They all experience what Acting Superintendent Randy King says in the article: "It’s just a great way for people to give back. Volunteers form a deep connection to the land."

Check out the complete article on the MSNBC website.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Special Call for Volunteers

To our great volunteers.

I'm in need of 5-10 volunteers for a 3 hour special project to get ready for the Puyallup Fair. The Northwest Outdoors Building (where Mount Rainier has its booth) will be filled with native plants this year. A nursery in Gig Harbor loans us the plants and transports them to the fair grounds. But we need some folks to place them throughout the building and to place bark around them.

When: Wednesday, September 7 from 10 AM to 1 PM
Where: The Northwest Outdoors Building at the Puyallup Fair (park in the blue lot, come in the blue gate and go left)

If you can help please let me know at jim_ross@nps.gov

There will be another opportunity to help on September 26th as we move the plants out. Same time.


Jim Ross Outreach Specialist
Mount Rainier National Park

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MRNPA Work Party - September 10th

Received from Mount Rainier National Park Associates. To learn more about MRNPA or to sign up for this event, please visit their website.

Greetings Alpine Gardeners and Trail Work Volunteers,

The annual Mount Rainier National Park Associates alpine gardening work party will be Saturday, September 10th. That is the Saturday following the Labor Day weekend. We will again be planting wildflower seedlings near Sunrise, working to convert a historic campground area back into alpine meadows.

On the morning of September 10th, we will meet in the Sunrise parking lot between 8:30 and 9:00 AM. As you arrive at Sunrise, Jane and I will be parked on the far left (south) side of the parking lot. Please check in with us as soon as you arrive. We need to get a count and the names of all our volunteers. There may be volunteers from other organizations milling about, so look for us at the green-gray Subaru Outback Wagon surrounded by people who look like they know what is going on,

Be prepared for almost any fall weather. In the past we have experienced everything from warm and sunny days to a driving blizzard. In addition to your sun hat, sunscreen, and your rain gear, bring a lunch, plenty of fluids to drink, gardening gloves, and a hand digging tool you like. If you have no gardening tools, the park can provide small hand tools. You will be working on your hands and knees to do the planting, so you may want to bring a pad for your knees too. The work site is about a mile from the parking lot so plan on carrying everything you need to and from the work site.

We normally work until at least 3 PM.

There is no charge for volunteers to enter the Park. When you enter at the White River Entrance, tell the gate attendant that you will be doing volunteer work on the meadow restoration project at Sunrise.

If you would like to camp for free at the White River Campground the evening prior to or the evening of the work party (or both evenings) contact Will Arneson at Will_Arnesen@nps.gov soon. For free camping, he must make the arrangements well in advance of the scheduled date.

If you plan to join MRNPA on Saturday, Sept 10th, for this alpine gardening work party, please reply to this email confirming that you are coming and indicating the number of volunteers that you will bringing with you.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

If you would like to volunteer to do planting at Mount Rainier but September 10th is not a convenient date, please consult the Mount Rainier website, http://www.nps.gov/mora/home.htm. Wildflower planting will be going on for several days.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Student Conservation Association crews are hard at work at Mount Rainier

On August 18, Patti and I, along with Acting Superintendent Randy King, Trails Foreman Jim Ziolkowski, and Student Conservation Association (SCA) Vice President Jay Satz, got to spend a rare day out of the office and in the field--meeting, spending time with, and photographing two different crews from SCA at work in Mount Rainier National Park. One crew, SCA's Conservation Leadership Corps out of Seattle, was working on trail maintenance on the Wonderland Trail above Louise Lake, at the end of a fifteen day assignment that began building trail at Klapatche Park deep in Mount Rainier's backcountry. The other crew was filming youth activities in the park, including the CLC crew, as part of a larger project filming youth programs in national parks throughout the region.

SCA is a major partner of the National Park Service, and each year fields many individual interns and crews at Mount Rainier and other parks, who contribute thousands of hours of volunteer service in return for a small stipend and a fantastic summer experience. We've had a total of three Conservation Leadership Corps groups in the park this summer, funded by a grants from the Park Service's Youth Internship Program and the Student Conservation Association.

As anyone local could guess, this has not been the best summer for volunteer crews to work in warm, sunny conditions with great views of The Mountain. Thursday, however, was gorgeous and perfect for photography. Here are a few photographs from the day; enjoy the whole set on Flickr (or click here for a slide show). Thank you to everyone for all of your hard work!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Urgent Alert: 1-3 volunteers needed tomorrow

Needed: At least 1, as many as 3, volunteers to help distribute information at the Nisqually Entrance tomorrow, Saturday August 20, about Washington's National Park Fund.

Purpose: The Fund is Mount Rainier National Park's most significant financial partner, raising private money to support all aspects of the park's operations. Projects this year include supporting our shuttle service, the volunteer program, the education program, and our community outreach program, and funding improvements to the Longmire Volunteer Campground, including the addition of picnic tables, fire rings, and a picnic shelter. By distributing Fund brochures on one of the busiest day at the park's entrance station, we hope to encourage all kinds of support through this important partnership. This is a high-impact opportunity for volunteers to make a real difference. See www.wnpf.org for details about the Fund and its activities at Mount Rainier and other Washington national parks.

What's involved: Volunteers will gather at the Nisqually Entrance at 10:30 for a briefing, then spend 11:00 to 3:00 talking with visitors as they wait in the line and handing out informational brochures. Our role will be purely informational, not solicitation.

What we need: Laurie Ward, Executive Director of the Fund, will be leading this effort. We need AT LEAST ONE MORE volunteer to confirm with us today in order to make this important project happen. Two volunteers would be better, three would be ideal.

How to get involved: As soon as possible, please contact Patti Poulin at 360-569-6588 or Patricia_Poulin@partner.nps.gov to confirm your participation.

Thank you all for your support!

Kevin Bacher

Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager
Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier's volunteer painter visits Alaska

I've been getting periodic updates from Allan Dreyer, who many of you may know as a meadow rover and artist who has painted many pictures of Mount Rainier and donated several of them to park offices and local fundraisers. His notariety went to Alaska recently with one of our transferred employees, who arranged for Allan to fly up for a couple of months and paint for Becharof National Wildlife Refuge and Katmai National Park.

The photo above is of Allan finally getting a break in the weather to fly up and see some of the places he'd so far only known from pictures, including Mount Chiginigak and the Ukinrek Maars. He's been painting at easier-to-reach locations like Brooks Falls up till now.

Allan's trip to Alaska is part of a larger artist-in-residence program there. Former Rainier ranger Julia Pinnix, now at Bercharof, explains:
Our current office exhibit is a retired museum exhibit of Pacific salmon-- and while it is nice, it contains many photos which are irrelevant to our area. Our goal is to replace most of the exhibit with items that are relevant. This includes photographs and artwork. Allan is our first artist, and we've asked him to create two large paintings, one for Becharof NWR, and one for Alaska Peninsula NWR. I believe Katmai NP is interested in having an image of Brooks Camp, and another of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

I have another volunteer coming, Tom Collopy of Homer, AK, overlapping with Allan. Tom will be taking photos of the villages near our refuges, both from the air and the ground, and we will assemble these in the office to remind us of our partners on the Peninsula.
Allan's "grand adventure" should last him a couple more weeks, and then he'll be home and ready to share his stories with us in person!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Volunteers survey butterflies at Mount Rainier and North Cascades

One of the biggest challenges faced by natural resource managers is knowing what resources, exactly, they have to manage. How can you know, for example, whether your amphibian species are in decline, as they are so many places, unless you first find out which ones you have and then monitor their populations over time? Mount Rainier's Citizen Science program was created a few years ago to address this issue with the help of volunteers, and now a similar program is beginning to monitor butterflies.

Butterflies are a great species to study because they come in so many varieties, each focused on a particular niche in the ecosystem for feeding and reproducing. Jim Burnett explains on the National Parks Traveler website: "Subalpine meadows are projected to shrink dramatically due to the effects of climate change, but the rate and magnitude of this change are unknown. Butterflies make ideal indicator species because they are particularly sensitive to climatic changes, and are relatively easy to identify in the field by scientists and volunteers alike." They also capture the imagination as they flutter colorfully among the summer flowers.

Now, volunteers will conduct regular survey transects at four sites in Mount Rainier National Park, along with sites at North Cascades National Park and four other locations in the Cascade range, to determine which varieties of butterfly make these mountains their home, and whether each is increasing or decreasing in numbers. Like the amphibian surveys, it's a critical but time-intensive project that will take many years of dedicated study to complete, and one that would be impossible without the dedicated assistance of volunteers.

The "Cascades Butterfly Project" will engage volunteers to inventory butterflies and upload photos and locations onto the Butterflies and Moths of North America website. The volunteers will also note how many of each species of butterfly they see, and which flowers are blooming.
Training of volunteers took place on July 23 at Sauk Mountain and on August 13 at Mount Rainier, though the survey transect at Paradise was still under snow. Other areas included in the study include the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest, Skagit Valley Provincial Park, and Manning Provincial Park.

Survey locations at Mount Rainier include Mazama Ridge, Naches Peak, Berkely Park, and Spray Park. Volunteers at North Cascades National Park will survey Maple and Easy Pass, and in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Yellow Aster Butte and Skyline Divide.

The National Park component of the butterfly survey project involves Wildlife Biologists Mason Reid, at Mount Rainier, and Bob Kuntz, at North Cacades, along with Botanists Lou Whiteaker and Mignonne Bivin. The monitoring program was developed by Dr. John McLaughlin, of Western Washington University, with help from teams of high school students from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for two years of field testing. The program is modeled after a similar program in the Rocky Mountains, which has been monitoring butterflies for 14 years now and has contributed to a significant increase in the number of documented species in Rocky Mountain National Park. A preliminary survey of butterflies at Mount Rainier was completed in 2008 by Dr. Dana Garrigan of Carthage College, including a checklist of 65 species.
Volunteers are still being recruited for this long-term project. To join the Cascades Butterfly Project, contact Jeff Anderson, North Cascades Institute Science Coordinator, at jeff_anderson@ncascades.org or 206-526-2574. Download the project's Resource Brief here. You can also check out the Cascades Butterfly Project Group on Yahoo.

Performance Above And Beyond The Call Of Duty By Three Volunteer Meadow Rovers

I've been meaning to post this for a while now, and having just celebrated the exceptional work of volunteers in general at last weekend's annual volunteer picnic, it seems like a good time to pass this along.

Bill Marsh is our volunteer Meadow Rover Coordinator at Paradise. He sent me this note on July 25, commending the performance of three Meadow Rovers, Mike and Nancy Henderson and Karen Overturf. The letter is a long one, but it deserves to be shared in its entirety, because it represents the indomitable spirit of so many of our volunteers here at Mount Rainier National Park, and it reminds me why I'm so proud to be part of this program. Bill told his story in person at the picnic, and the park's Acting Superintendent, Randy King, has extended his personal thanks to everyone involved.

Dear Kevin,

I would like to know the Mount Rainier procedure for formally commending and recognizing an almost 'super human effort' performed by three outstanding Meadow Rovers today at Paradise! The Meadow Rovers' names are Mike and Nancy Henderson and Karen Overturf. I have already talked this over with Ranger Jacquot and he said that I should contact you directly and copy to Patricia and of course to him as well.

As you know our recent warm weather has not only finally started to melt things out, but it has brought the number of visitors to Paradise to its typical summertime 'sunny day' fever pitch. For some reason only a handful of rovers have been coming to the mountain this summer even though Ranger Jacquot has sent out emails to them requesting help. However, Mike, Nancy and Karen have already made multiple visits and performed in an outstanding manner mitigating several snow covered trail issues, providing safer passage along the trail for our visitors.

Having stated the above I now come to the heart of this email.....

Today, Sunday, July 24, 2011 at Paradise, I started the day with 6 Rovers including myself. One Rover had arrived early and had already headed out (9am) to Panorama Point before I had arrived (9:15). Yet another Rover arrived and headed out without checking in with me... Then Mike, Nancy and Karen arrived.

Our focus today was to be digging through three feet of ice/snow, covering the sets of stairs at the start of the Skyline Trail near the JVC at Paradise. We have literally been trying to complete that task for several days due to the hazardous conditions the ice/snow cover over the stairways has presented. This has been a very difficult area for many of our ill prepared visitors with their 'snow unfriendly' footwear.

I had already been working by myself for a couple of hours when Nancy, Mike and Karen arrived, just 'in the nick of time' I might add, to help. The only thing that allowed me to cut though the ice was a wildland firefighting Pulaski tool, so as one of the three started directing traffic around the 'construction zone,' the other two immediately jumped in and started moving the snow and ice as I cut through it. We had been at it for two hours, non-stop, when I overheard a call go out on my radio that a ranger had come upon an injured hiker, who had fallen and was down and unable to move due to an injured back near Marmot Hill, in the Glacier Vista area.

I would like to note at this point, that I was already aware of a very technical SAR operation ongoing high on the mountain, involving several climbing rangers. I also knew that the only two qualified climbing rangers were either assigned to parking lot duty or were resetting safety poles and lines along the snow banks above the parking lots in the Paradise area. The other 'mountain qualified' rangers were LE rangers who were very busy trying to deal with our many visitors and their vehicles coming to and from the mountain.

I would also like to note that I have over 35 years of professional, emergency services experience, as firefighter/paramedic, and as the chief of the largest Medic One program in King County. I am intimately knowledgeable with the Incident Command System and served as Incident Commander at several large scale incidents. I also have over 30 years of mountain rescue experience, including the positions of field and base operations leader. My reason for wanting to give you this additional information is that I wanted for you to be able to judge whether or not my experience level would allow me to make certain decisions, 'on my own,' based on my experience level and the ability to have situational awareness and multitask in times of emergency operations.

Having stated the above, I now arrive at the heart of this email...

I had prior knowledge of Nancy, Mike and Karen's physical fitness abilities, having worked with them before. So, I turned to them and said, "I can't direct you to do what I am about to ask of you, but would you be willing to assist the the carry-out of an injured hiker near Marmot Hill due to the resources already being stretched very thin?" Without hesitation, all three, almost in unison, said, "Absolutely!"

I then explained, in detail, what the mission might entail, in that they would be assisting qualified personnel already at the scene, and that they would be helping rangers move a litter up hill at a fairly good clip, as well as describing what carrying a loaded litter over snow and uneven terrain would entail. They, once again, without hesitation, and again in unison said, "Where do you want us to go!"

At this point, I contacted dispatch by radio and told them that I had three capable and willing volunteers available to help with the evacuation of the patient if needed. Dispatch contacted one of the LE climbing ranger supervisors via radio and advised her of our available personnel. The response was an immediate, "Yes!" She asked for our personnel to respond to the 'Old Station' to meet the climbing ranger. Mike, Nancy and Karen arrived there three minutes later. Within ten minutes 'our' three volunteers and the climbing ranger came flying by me with litter in hand. You might also like to know that the volunteers' ages ranged from fifties to sixties. And please remember what they had been doing, prior to heading up the hill, in the heat of the day.

The times elude me at the moment, but I would estimate that they were up and back down with the patient in approximately two to three hours! But the story does end here!

I asked all three of them individually how were they doing the first chance I had, expecting to hear... "EXHAUSTED!!!" But NO...all three said they felt great and actually thanked me for the opportunity to help!

At this point, I assisted with putting the patient in the ambulance and talked with the rangers involved to ask how 'our' personnel performed. To a person, they all said that they would have had a difficult time without the additional help and that our volunteers all performed in an exemplary manner, with enthusiasm and professionalism.

While I was talking to the rangers, I was assuming that Mike, Nancy and Karen would be either done for the day, or taking an extended break, which I told them they certainly could do, and I certainly expected.... but was I ever wrong! I turned around and what did I see... Mike, Nancy and Karen back at the ice pack on the stairs, chopping, shoveling, poling, roping away like nothing had happened!!!

Oh! But I am not done!!!

I rejoined them, told them how proud I was of them for their feat of strenuous heroism and volunteering to go in the first place. All three just brushed it off, as though it were just another day's work! We continued to work together with Mike and I pounding in metal poles on either side of the trail and fixing lines as we went. At about six o'clock Nancy came up to me and asked if I had ever had a chance to go out to check trail conditions to Myrtle Falls. She knew I had been wanting to do so all day, due to reported hazards on the trail. I said that I had not been able to break away. She then asked that if I didn't mind, that she and Karen would go out to the falls to check trail conditions and be back before seven to catch the shuttle's last ride down hill.

Needless to say, I almost fell over with amazement at what she had just asked permission to do, given the events and activities of the day. But, I could see her determination, so I said, "Sure, why not." In the meantime Mike and I continued our task at hand.

At a few minutes before seven, as promised, Nancy and Karen were back with a trail report. Unfortunately, I had been aware of the tragic traffic accident that prevented the shuttle being at the pick up point at 7. It was more like eight o'clock. I am aware of the time frame, because I was just leaving the JVC, having just briefed my supervisor, Ranger Jacquot. I wanted to be sure that he was made aware of all of the events of the day. I especially wanted to make him aware of the the 'super-human' efforts and actions of our three volunteers, who had gone far above and beyond the call of duty!

And now the finishing touch...

For the hour that Mike, Nancy and Karen had to wait for their ride down hill, did they sit idly by on the benches with the visitors that were also waiting to head down hill... NO!!! Mike and Nancy Henderson, along with fellow Rover Karen Overturf, spent the hour picking up trash around the JVC.

I can tell you right now Kevin, that in my humble opinion, these three individuals deserve to be recognized and rewarded, somehow, for their actions of this day, and that it should, again, in my humble opinion, come from several pay grades above mine and I hope you feel the same way and will pass this email right up and through the chain of command to the very top!

I would like to close by saying that, in all of my professional and volunteer experience, these three individuals stand shoulder to shoulder with highest ranks of the emergency services first responders who also performed in the same manner. 'Our' personnel have redefined the meaning and job description of what it means to be a "VOLUNTEER!" Their exemplary actions today should be the standard we should all aspire to attain. In addition, the Rangers and support staff should also be commended for their professional actions given the events of the day!

I would look forword to discussing this email further with you, at anytime.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Marsh
Volunteer Meadow Rover Coordinator

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

VIP Carol Miltimore Reports on the Sunrise Archaeology Dig

On August 3rd, Jim and I took advantage of the opportunity to experience archaeology excavation at the historic borrow pit in Sunrise area. The excavation was conducted by the CWU archaeology field school students under the direction of Dr. McCutcheon.

We started the visit with a tour of the site Dr. McCutcheon guided as he narrated an interesting history and background of the site. We saw the freshly excavated stratigraphic profile completed just the day before on the bank of the water-filled borrow pit.

The field school students found numerous artifacts including a large palm-size chert stone that appears to have been worked by human as they worked on the profile. Then we went to the excavation site the field school students just began excavation work that morning. Two days earlier they had to shovel snow off the area to prepare the site for excavation. The area has been surveyed to layout coordinates in order to map the overall site and lay out grids for excavation.

We first watched the students learn hands-on how archaeological excavation work are conducted. Students work on 1 meter x 1 meter grids in teams using trowels, scoops, buckets, standing sieves and record books. They scrape off an unique stratigraphic layer at a time (or constant depth) and sieve the excavated material. The stratigraphic layers are defined by historic geological events, such as volcanic eruptions, glacial events and lahars, and interludes between these geological events. They meticulously record data and observations for each layer level: depth from the reference point, the map of grid (soil color variation, location of tree roots, etc.), volume and type of material removed and sieved, any artifacts found as sieved.

After watching the student survey the site and work grids, they let us get our hands dirty sieving and working with a trowel and scoop. We excavating the layer less than 10 cm down into pit and the layer consisted of the salt-and-pepper looking stratigraphic layer called Mount St. Helens Wn, ash deposited by the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1480 A.D. and soil deposited since this eruption. So we were all excited when roars came from the sieving area telling us lythic pieces were found, one each from two of the grids. Not only that, one of the two was the grid I was helping excavate!

As you can see this is a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in archaeology, park history, Native American history, geology, and anyone who is just looking for a new adventure and experience. I hope many people, our VIPs and park including, take advantage of this opportunity and fill up the limited slots available. (For the west siders: Sunrise is melting out and brilliant blooming flowers are starting to spread from road edges into meadows.)

Carol Miltimore
East side Wilderness VIP

Opportunities are available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:00 am to 11:30 am during the first three weeks in August. The number of participants is limited each day to six people ages 16 and above. Reservations may be made in person at the Sunrise Visitor Center or by calling 360-663-2425.

Mount Rainier's RAVEN Program Receives Donation

This season a generous donation was made by Mount Rainier National Park Associates to fund the lease during the summer 2011 season of a Ford pickup truck to be used for the Roadside Assistance Volunteers (RAVEN) program.

The RAVEN program operates June through August on the south side of the park assisting park visitors in need of help with their vehicles and providing traffic control during emergency operations and during times of heavy traffic congestion. Raven volunteers work 6-7 days a week. Last year park visitors avoided an estimated $52,000 in towing charges as result of receiving assistance from the Raven volunteers.

A donation was also made to the Restoration Program to purchase the parts to construct a portable misting system to be used at the greenhouse at Tahoma Woods.

At the greenhouse, native seeds and cuttings are propagated that are later planted in meadows that are being restored. The addition of a misting system to the greenhouse will increase the number of plants that can be propagated and having a portable system will allow greater flexibility of its use.

To read this original article visit Mount Rainier National Park Associate's website.