Thursday, March 31, 2011

Japan Relief Coming from Mount Rainier

Eatonville's Dispatch News published an article this week on the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA), which has sent student volunteers to Mount Rainier from Waseda University in Tokyo for seventeen years, contributing thousands of hours of volunteer service to the park. This summer, several members of the Mount Rainier National Park staff, on their own time, are planning to travel to Japan to return the favor. Read all about it on the Dispatch website:

Volunteer Program Highlight: Citizen Science

I've been responding to volunteer inquiries this week, including several questions about our Citizen Science program. This is a program we're very proud of, because it provides opportunities for anyone to participate in a direct and meaningful way in the understanding and protection of the natural resources of Mount Rainier. Here's the draft letter I put together to send out to those who are interested. If this sounds interesting to you, then submit an application and join our team -- we'd love to work with you this summer!

Thank you for your interest in the Citizen Science program at Mount Rainier National Park! Every year, teams of volunteers help us survey amphibian species, locate vernal pools, monitor wilderness soundscapes, and assist with other science projects throughout the park. These efforts greatly enhance our understanding of Mount Rainier’s natural ecosystems and allow us to track changes over time. We are better able to protect the park’s resources with these data, but we would not have the staff to compile it without the help of volunteers.

Every summer, we hire an intern, usually through the Student Conservation Association, to coordinate the Citizen Science program. Because most of the locations we survey are at high elevations, and usually buried by deep snow until July, our intern usually comes on duty at the beginning of that month. One of their first tasks is to organize training for the summer’s volunteers and to schedule research outings for the months of July, August, September, and early October. Some are day-long trips in easily accessible areas of the park, while others may be multiple-day ventures into remote settings.

If you’re interested in participating in the Citizen Science program, you may fill out an application online at It may seem like a long wait from that time until you hear back from anyone, but please be patient; you can expect to hear from us by mid July with word on whether you’ve been accepted as a member of our team, along with a schedule of training and potential outings for the summer. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or to confirm the status of your application.

Note that no previous scientific experience is required to volunteer as a Citizen Scientist, as training will be provided. However, the work is physically strenuous, and often involves crosscountry travel and/or overnight stays in remote parts of Mount Rainier National Park. Survey equipment will be provided, but you’ll need to provide your own camping equipment for the overnight trips. Previous backpacking experience is strongly recommended.

Thanks again for your interest in being a Citizen Scientist at Mount Rainier! We look forward to working with you this summer.

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mount Rainier National Park Associates schedules first work party of 2011 for April 30

I received this notice from John Titland, of the Mount Rainier National Park Associates. MRNPA leads a monthly project throughout the summer and has done so for many years, so they're a great way to get involved as a volunteer!

Future events (mark your calendars!) are tentatively scheduled on:
April 30
May 21
June 11
July 9
August 13
September 10
October 1


The first Mount Rainier National Park Associates trails work party for 2011 will be Saturday, April 30th. I know that is a full month away, but this early reminder to get the trail work party on your schedule can't hurt. Right now I know we will be working at Carbon River. The project options are either to work on the Boundary Trail, which starts right at the Carbon River Entrance, or the Green River Trail, which will involve a hike up past the washout to get to the trailhead. Either way, expect some hiking to get to the work site.

As always, you should bring work gloves, safety glasses, a hard hat if you have one, your lunch, fluids to drink, some warm clothing and full rain gear. This early in the season it is not unusual for there to be some snow on the ground or falling from the sky.

If you plan to attend this work party please reply to this email indicating that you are coming and giving me the number of volunteers you expect to accompany you. I need an estimate of the number of volunteers so that the Park can be sure to have enough tools for us all.

I know this may be too early to decide if you will join the MRNPA work party on April 30th, but if you are considering attending I would also like to hear from you. I will send a reminder email about a week prior to April 30th when you can tell me your final decision.

For volunteers under 18 years of age, the National Park Service requires a parent or guardian sign a consent form, which we have copies available at the work party.

There are safety gear rules 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, will be required to wear a hard hat and safety glasses. People working with or near less aggressive tools will not be required (but will be encouraged) to wear a hard hat. Wearing safety glasses will be encouraged at all times. At this time we do not have a clear idea of how many volunteers will need hard hats or how many hard hats will be provided by the park. If you own a hard hat, please bring it along. We have a supply of hard hats for those volunteers who do not have one.

Safety glasses are a different issue! 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 if you need a new pair. 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.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eyes in the sky

Meadow Rover Dennis Berry sent this to me a few days ago, captured from one of our web cameras at Paradise about 5:45 pm on March 19. Great timing! Thanks for sharing it, Dennis.

In case you don't recognize it, that's a red fox mid-photo...