Monday, December 2, 2013

Snow Play Volunteer Needed

Every winter, hundreds of families flock to Mount Rainier to enjoy our world-record snowpack. Many of those families enjoy sledding on the park's groomed sledding runs, set up and maintained to ensure that visitors have a safer experience than they would have on unregulated slopes.

Mount Rainier National Park seeks an energetic volunteer to help manage the snow play hill. Duties include directing visitors, enforcing regulations (e.g. no runner sleds), responding to injuries, and in general, maintaining a positive and orderly experience for park visitors. Note that the sledding hill can get very busy on sunny holiday weekends, and weather can turn cold and wet at a moment's notice.

Snow play rangers will work weekends from December 21 through the end of March. Overnight housing may be available during the weekend, but this is not a full-time position.

For more information, please contact Mary King, Mary_E_King@nps.gov, or 360-569-6681. Submit your application at Volunteer.gov.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Volunteer Opportunities and Winter Operations Training

As the snow accumulates at Paradise, I have begun receiving e-mails from Meadow Rovers asking about options for winter volunteering. While such opportunities are more limited than they are in the summer months, they are not non-existent, and plans have been developing behind the scenes for winter operations training and supervision. Here’s a quick summary of what’s on the agenda:

Nordic Patrol training, December 2010
photo by Phil Hertzog
Nordic Patrol, Interpretation, and Snow Roving
There are three main options for winter volunteering, depending on your skills, interests, and experience. Nordic Patrol, AKA Ski Patrol, is a partnership between Mount Rainier National Park and the Washington Ski Touring Club (WSTC). Its members patrol the routes above Paradise on skis, coordinated by the park’s division of Visitor and Resource Protection. They provide both preventative and responsive search and rescue, and monitor the ski routes for potential danger. Patrol members should be physically fit and comfortable on skis. To participate, contact WSTC through their website at http://www.wstc.org.

Winter Interpreters, by contrast, work primarily out of the Visitor Center. They assist visitor center staff at the information desk on a regular basis, filling vital slots in our schedule. They are trained to provide informal interpretation and answer questions, and also help with snowshoe walks, usually by serving as a "sweeper" at the back of the line to keep the group together and assist anyone who falls behind. These positions are limited to a few people with previous experience, and all such slots are filled for this year. If you’re interested in participating in the future, stop by the Visitor Center and chat with our staff to let us know!

John McCarthy, Snow Rover
Photo by Ed Hunds
Our third group of volunteers are Snow Rovers, who are roughly analogous to summer Meadow Rovers. But whereas the primary duty of Meadow Rovers is to protect fragile subalpine meadows, the primary job of Snow Rovers is to promote visitor safety. Snow Rovers patrol areas close to the trailheads – including the trailheads and parking lots themselves – assisting visitors with information about where to go and how to get there and back safely. Like the Meadow Rover program, the Snow Rover program is supervised by Mount Rainier’s volunteer program manager, Kevin Bacher, and his staff. Maureen McLean will be on duty on Saturdays from December 14 through January 4, and after that, a winter intern (yet to be hired) will take over the role.

It is important to stress that Nordic Patrol, Winter Interpreters, Snow Rovers, and Meadow Rovers are each different volunteer positions, and each requires a separate volunteer agreement. If you are already signed up as a Meadow Rover, for example, you are not automatically also a Snow Rover. The duties and priorities are different, and if you have registered as a Meadow Rover or were a Snow Rover last year but haven’t yet signed paperwork as a Snow Rover this year, you are not authorized to do the work. If you’re interested in participating, contact us and make arrangements to sign up.

How to Be a Snow Rover
If you want to serve with Nordic Patrol, you’ll work directly with the Washington Ski Touring Club. If you’re a Winter Interpreter, then you’ve already been contacted and scheduled by our interpretive staff. If you’re interested in becoming a Snow Rover, then you’ll be working with me. Here is a quick summary of how that works:
  1. Sign up. As mentioned above, if you have not signed a volunteer agreement specifically for Snow Roving this year, you must do so before venturing out on the snow. Snow Roving is different than Meadow Roving.
  2. Attend training. If possible, join us on Saturday, December 14 for our winter volunteer orientation. See below for details.
  3. Choose when to come and where to go. Our greatest need is on weekends at Paradise, especially when the weather is good, followed by Fridays. Weekday roving is less important, but welcomed in the Longmire area.
  4. Let us know you’re coming. Snow Rovers MUST check in ahead of time so that we can make sure enough radios and other resources are available for you. Let us know if you plan to ride our employee shuttle, which is an option if space is available and you plan on being here all day. The shuttle leaves Longmire at 9:00 am on weekends and holidays, weather permitting, and departs Paradise at 4:45 pm. Also let us know if you’d like to spend the night in the volunteer apartment at Park Headquarters, which has two bedrooms and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Since multiple people will be supervising the program over the course of the winter, the best way to RSVP is by writing to the Meadow Rover mailbox at MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov. Please don’t wait until the day before to RSVP, and please give us at least a two-day lead when requesting the apartment.
  5. Call ahead to check conditions. Current road and weather information is available by calling 360-569-2211 and listening to the recorded message. This includes an estimate on when (or if) the road to Paradise will open, and whether chains or 4WD will be required. Note that state law requires you to carry tire chains in your vehicle during the winter, even if current road conditions do not require putting them on.
  6. Check in when you get here. Snow Rovers must check in in person when they arrive, either at the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise (open weekends and holidays) or at the Longmire Information Center (open seven days a week). Our rangers will give you current information on weather, avalanche, and trail conditions, and may ask you to help with specific tasks such as resetting the poles marking trails, or checking on trail conditions in a certain area.
  7. Check out a radio. Safety is your highest priority – for both you and the visitors we serve! No one should be out on the trail without a radio and knowledge of how to use it, especially in the winter (in addition to the rest of the 10 Essentials).
  8. Be safe!
  9. Check back in when you return. Check your radio back in, report anything relevant, and log your hours and visitor contacts in the volunteer notebook. If the notebook is not available, send your hours via e-mail to MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov when you get home.

Winter Operations Training
If possible, plan to join us on Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 9:00-4:00 for Winter Operations Training. We’ll meet at the Community Building at Longmire and, weather permitting, move up to Paradise in the afternoon. Details of the agenda are still being worked out, but topics will include safety, logistics, and emergency response. This training is highly recommended if you plan to participate as either a Snow Rover or Winter Interpreter, and is also an excellent opportunity to update your paperwork if necessary.

5-Minute Presentations Are Needed! We will begin the Winter Operations Training with a series of brief presentation on winter safety topics, such as the 10 Essentials, preventing falls, snow shoveling, hypothermia, dehydration, frostbite, winter driving, cold and flu prevention, etc. If you would like to put together a 5-minute presentation on one of these topics, or something similar, please let us know when you RSVP, and we’ll put you into the schedule!

Please RSVP to MORA_Meadow_Rovers@nps.gov so that we’re sure to have plenty of chairs and snacks. Use the same e-mail address if you have questions. See you there, and we look forward to working with you this winter!

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Volunteer Activity and Expense Report

Here, at last, is this year's Annual Activity and Expense Report for the volunteer program. As always, I will follow this soon with an analysis of where changes occurred between last year and this year, and why. From the outset, though, two things jump out: first, our total number of volunteer hours is down dramatically (from 74,615 last year to 62,736 this year); and second, our total number of volunteers remained almost steady (1,804 last year, 1,784 this year). A quick look at the numbers reveals that most of the changes are reflective of fewer full-time volunteer and intern positions. We had fewer full-time volunteers in the Paradise Visitor Center and Climber Information Center; fewer Emergency Roadside Assistance ("Raven") volunteers; fewer Historic Architecture positions; and so forth. Even if just a few positions are lost in each division, they carry with them thousands of hours of volunteer time. We lost a few thousand hours of volunteer time at the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center alone.

Most of these positions seem to have been lost for the same reasons that our numbers of paid staff have declined: volunteers are inexpensive but not free, incurring either housing, per diem, and vehicle costs, or commitments to the Student Conservation Association and other partners, and with reduced budgets, we've had reduced capacity. It is also likely that under Sequestration whole programs have shrunk, volunteers and all.

The silver lining is that, clearly, individual interest in volunteering has NOT declined. While we've had fewer full-time volunteers parkwide, our number of itinerant volunteers has remained roughly the same, in spite of the shrinkage of some programs. As revegetation opportunities have declined, citizen science opportunities have increased, for example, and our total number of volunteers this year is the second-highest ever, just slightly behind last year's number.

I will work on bringing these statistics and conclusions into sharper focus over the next few weeks, and will report further when I have more information. For now, here are the raw data!





Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Volunteers In Parks
Annual Activity and Expense Report
Mount Rainier National Park
Report Date: Nov 21, 2013
Fiscal Year: 2013


Volunteer Coordinator and Park Information


Total Volunteers: 1,784
Alpha Code: MORA
VIP Coordinator: Kevin Bacher
VIP Coordinator Phone: 360-569-2211
Coordinator Email: kevin_bacher@nps.gov


Volunteer hours by category:


Administration: 441.00
Campground Host: 2,088.00
Cultural Resource Management: 7,832.00
General Management: 152.00
Interpretation: 12,922.50
Maintenance: 1,578.25
Natural Resource Management: 9,650.75
Protection/Operations/Law Enforcement: 27,481.75
Training: 590.00
[Total: 62,736.25]


Program costs by category:


Housing: $ 7,116.00
Meals: $ 2,237.00
Recognition/Award: $ 0.00
Supplies: $ 32,807.00
Training: $ 0.00
Transportation: $ 2,602.00
Uniforms: $ 4,372.00
[Note: Does not include spending on task agreements, including SCA.]


Volunteer Program Highlight


Mount Rainier's volunteer program suffered significantly under Sequestration in two ways: with less funding available, fewer long-term volunteer positions were filled (with accompanying per diem, housing, and vehicle costs); and several thousand hours of time were lost that had been associated with the now-closed Ohanapecosh Visitor Center. Still, the total number of volunteers remained close to previous years, indicating that while the park was less able to support full-time residential positions, interest in volunteering remained undiminished. In fact, volunteer opportunities continued to diversify, with now three different programs related to Citizen Science, for example. Another highlight of the year was the expansion of our partnership with the Student Conservation Association, through a Youth Partnerships Program and National Park Foundation grant, which included work with three Community Crews, two National Park Academy Interns, and one traditional intern, providing a "ladder" of youth volunteer experiences. Half of the Community Crew members were recruited from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, expanding our outreach to the military community. Finally, Mount Rainier bids fond farewell to the Japan Volunteer in Parks Association (J-VIPA), "retiring" from Mount Rainier after 20 years and 23,040 hours of service. Their contributions to Mount Rainier National Park will benefit us long into the future, and we wish them well with their new volunteer efforts closer to home in Japan.


Training


How many people at the park require VIP Program Mgmt Training: 15


Optional Information Regarding Housing VIPS and Campground Hosts


Number of Campground Hosts: 8
Number of VIPs housed in Permanent Structures: 59
Number of VIPs housed in Trailers: 0

Trailer Pads for Volunteers: 6


Other Information


Number of SCAs: 38
SCA Hours: 7175.5
Number of Artists in Parks: 0
Artist in Parks Hours: 0
Number of International VIPs: 24
International VIPS Hours: 384
Number of Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps: 0
Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps Hours: 0
Number of Boy Scouts: 66
Boy Scout Hours: 433
Number of Girl Scouts: 0
Girl Scout Hours: 0

Mountain Rescue assists with double Search and Rescue

This incident summary from last week presents another excellent opportunity to recognize and thank the important contribution of volunteers in our Search and Rescue efforts. Over the past year (Fiscal Year 2013), Mountain Rescue units contributed more than a thousand hours of volunteer time at Mount Rainier. The previous year -- a year with an exceptionally high number of such events -- the number was almost twice that. I've said this many times, but it applies even more vitally when lives are at risk: there is no way we could serve our visitors or the natural and cultural resources we protect as well as we do, without the help of volunteers. Thank you, Mountain Rescue!

November 21-22, 2013

The rescue of an injured skier in the Panoramic Point area above Paradise overnight was made more complex when word came to rangers that a snowboarder was reported lost in the same area. At 3 pm, word was received that a 36 year old skier from Packwood, WA, had fallen down a 200 ft. icefield and had severely broken his knee. By the time rangers were able to reach and assess the subject, waning daylight precluded the safe use of a helicopter as a means of extricating the 36 year old skier. As Ranger staff began setting up a technical raising of the skier, it became apparent that to conduct this operation safely, additional outside resources would be needed. Six members of Tacoma Mountain Rescue, and six members of Olympic Mountain Rescue, all trained volunteers, responded from various areas around Puget Sound, to help conduct the rescue. In the meantime, a tent and sleeping bags were sent up to the site to protect the skier from the elements. Although skies were clear and calm overnight, temperatures were in the 20’s throughout the ordeal. The laborious task of carefully raising the subject, and sledding him down to Paradise under darkness took most of the night.

In the meantime, at approx. 9 pm while the rescue was underway, the park received a report that a 36 year old solo snowboarder from Edmonds, WA was lost. He had texted his girlfriend on his cellphone to report that he was snowboarding in the Pebble Creek area above Paradise, was trying to make his way back to the parking lot, but because of darkness did not know his way back. This area is on a ridge with steep icefields and gullies along the way. The stretch of freezing weather that had occurred created a hard, slippery ice crust throughout the area, and a slip or fall could be deadly. Attempts to reach snowboarder by phone after the initial text message were unsuccessful. The Incident Commander of the skier rescue, Park Ranger Kevin Ross, re-directed several of the rescue volunteers to begin a hasty search in the area of Pebble Creek. At approx. 1220 am, searchers heard a voice responding to their calling out of the subject’s name. The snowboarder was located in cold, but good condition near Pebble Creek. He was safely walked out to Paradise, and did not suffer any injuries. All parties were safely taken off the mountain between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning. The skier was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Puyallup, WA.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Secretary Jewell Launches Ambitious Initiative to Expand Opportunities for Youth on Nation’s Public Lands

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined with local business, health, education, non-profit and conservation leaders in San Francisco to launch a national campaign to expand opportunities for youth on public lands. Today’s kick-off comes on the heels of Secretary Jewell’s major speech last week, in which she outlined conservation priorities for Interior, including an emphasis on fostering the next generation of environmental stewards, scientists, and natural resource managers.

“There is a growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors – and it’s a gap that Interior has the power to help bridge,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, Interior will expand its efforts to pass on our nation’s rich conservation legacy and to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.”

In the morning, Jewell hosted a roundtable discussion with local leaders in San Francisco to outline her vision and to hear what efforts are underway in the area to boost youth engagement and employment. Following the roundtable, Jewell participated in a service project with local youth conservation corps members at Crissy Field in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

“San Francisco is really a model for what can be accomplished when it comes to leveraging public-private partnerships to connect young people to the great outdoors – whether it’s in the classroom, through volunteer work, or with a job working on public lands,” Jewell added. “Through this initiative, we hope to expand that success around the country, so that young people and veterans can not only accomplish meaningful work and gain important professional skills, but they can also build a lifelong connection to the outdoors.”  

The goals of Interior’s youth initiative for the next four years include: 

  • Play: Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in a total of 50 cities over the next four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million young people.
  • Learn: Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation’s K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature’s classroom, we are developing and strengthening new online education resources, to reach more students.
  • Serve: Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling the numbers we have now. We know that many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, we will place a renewed emphasis on volunteer coordination and management. [Emphasis added]
  • Work: To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure our own skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, Interior will provide 100,000 work & training opportunities to young people within our bureaus and through public-private partnerships. As part of this effort, we aim to raise an additional $20 million to support the youth work and training opportunities.

Youth engagement has been a signature part of President Obama’s conservation agenda, and today’s initiative will build upon the ongoing partnership with USDA and other members of the federal family through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC). The 21CSC, launched as part of the America’s Great Outdoors program, is a national collaborative effort to put America’s youth and veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s natural and cultural resources. The 21CSC engages young Americans aged 15-25, and veterans up to age 35. 

An initial group of 91 organizations has been recognized for their commitment to the principles that the 21CSC embodies. All partner organizations have agreed to offer job and training opportunities to young people and veterans in America’s great outdoors.

###

Monday, November 4, 2013

End of Season!

Today, Sunday November 2nd, is the official end of Meadow Roving for 2013.  It is a good day to end as the meadows are covered in snow.  Winter has definitely set foot on the mountain. 

For those of you who would like to continue as Snow Rovers, there are several changes coming with that program this winter.  For more information, contact Kevin Bacher (Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov). or stay tuned to this blog for training information.

I wish to thank each of you for all your help this season and look forward to working with you next year.  Stay tuned to this blog for information on our training sessions next June.  My government e-mail will be closed while I am off the rolls so I will not be able to communicate with you. 

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Friday, October 25, 2013

Meadow Rover of the Year

Each and every one of you has made a difference in Mount Rainier National Park and I for one could not ask for better people with whom to work. However, the time has come to announce the Meadow Rover of the Year Awards. These awards are given not only for the number of hours spent volunteering in our meadows, but also for the manner in which the individual approaches their duties. The following individuals have been standouts this summer among the many nominations:

Jodie Hollinger-Lant
Jodie stepped up to handle the coordination of the Meadow Rovers at Sunrise. With the changes in the program this year, Jodie handled all the new regulations with ease. She implemented an excellent reservation system for the radios and constantly monitored her territory to place people where they were needed. On top of this, she roved in her free-time and also assisted at the information desk. As overall coordinator, I could not have survived without her work on the east side.

David Howerton
David is a familiar face in the Sunrise area. He has accrued a whopping 303¼ hours of roving time between July 1st and September 30th. During this time, he has made 5623 contacts. But more than hours, he was the volunteer who assisted Lynn as she stepped in for Jodie. When she nominated him, Lynn reiterated how instrumental David was in helping her keep the program running smoothly.

Gwen Remmen
As a brand new Mt. Rainier Volunteer, Gwen managed to accumulate over 100 hours of meadow roving between July and September. Her enthusiasm never waned even on the longest, craziest days in late August. Visitors were highly entertained by her humorous messages among them the poor flower screaming "don’t step on me!" But amongst the laughter, they rallied around to pass on the message of protecting the meadow.

Each of these individuals will choose between lunch with the park administrator of their choice or a hike with one of the park scientists.

We will have two more weekends of roving at Paradise -- 10/26-27 and Nov 2/3. Snow continues to linger hiding parts of the trails, but not deep enough to protect the vegetation. Some visitors have arrived with sleds hoping to catch the slopes. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous... warm and sunny with crisp blue skies. Come up and have some fun.

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"In Our View: Park volunteers show the right way"

In the flurry of busy-ness this past week as we've reopened after the Government Shutdown, I almost missed this wonderful editorial in the local Dispatch newspaper in Eatonville, Washington. Good work setting an awesome example, National Public Lands Day volunteers!

An excerpt:

"It’s ironic that just three days before partisan politics pushed the federal government into a shutdown that forced the closure of Mount Rainier National Park and associated economic impacts affecting the lives of furloughed workers and businesses with fewer potential customers, the place was imbued with a selflessness that our leaders in Washington, D.C. could learn from."

Friday, October 18, 2013

THE MOUNTAIN RETURNS

While we were closed, the Mountain has changed its face.  The Paradise meadows are white, and the trails are covered too.  The foliage has turned orange, yellow and red.  Check the webcams to see the beauty- http://www.nps.gov/mora/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm#CP_JUMP_636381. Better yet, we could still use some help on the weekends thru November 3rd.  With the sun shining, I expect many visitors to reclaim their park.  The snow is not deep enough to protect the vegetation so we will need rovers to help people find and stay on the trails and return sleds to their cars.  I am not working today-Friday, but will be at Paradise Saturday and Sunday.  Even if you are in the ½ mile radius, you will be helping visitors and the resources alike.  I will try to have as many radios as possible charged and ready for your use.  For our Sunrise friends, the road and trails to Sunrise are closed for the winter, so come visit us at Paradise.
Come breathe the fresh air and enjoy the changes October has given. 
Once again thanks so much for all your help and especially thank you for the support and encouragement given during the shutdown.
Yours
Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Thursday, October 17, 2013

We're Open!

Thank you, everyone, for your patience and support while we were shut down. Note that it'll take a day or two to be fully back up and running again... volunteers, please continue to be patient with your supervisors as they get back to their offices and restart their programs. We look forward to working with you again just as soon as we can! Meanwhile, it's gorgeous up here today (we're well above the fog line). And did I mention that we're open?!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shut down

 Because of the federal government shutdown this National Park Service blog page is inactive. We’ll start the conversation again when we get back.

Monday, September 30, 2013

An epic National Public Lands Day

Saturday's National Public Lands Day was one for the record books.

No, we didn't have a record turnout; nor did we restore more miles of trail, plant more seedlings, or pick up amazing amounts of trash. But we did work in some of the wettest, muddiest weather in the volunteer program's history! Chief Ranger Chuck Young reports that from Friday through Monday about 8 inches of rain fell in the park, and those of us who spent six hours maintaining trails at Narada Falls, or taking down tents and picking up storm debris at the Longmire Campround, carried much of that home with us, soaked through to the skin in spite of the best efforts of Gortex and leather.

It was so wet, in fact, that I didn't get a total count on participants before heading out Saturday afternoon. I'm guessing about three dozen people showed up, split fairly evenly between trail work and campground restoration. The trail work was accomplished in partnership with the Washington Trails Association, while Boy Scout Troop 356 from Bothell pitched in with spirit in the campground. The National Parks Conservation Association helped with registration, and brought along volunteers, and Student Conservation Association intern Joshua Jones represented his organization's partnership honorably as well.

I've posted a complete set of photos on the park's Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mountrainiernps/, so check them out! If you took photos of your own, please post them on Flickr or Facebook or Instagram or Picasa or whatever, and send us the link -- we'd love to see every last soggy one of them.

This year's event was a testament to what people can accomplish when they come together for a common cause, in spite of epic challenges. You guys are an inspiration!

Friday, September 27, 2013

President Obama proclaims National Public Lands Day

In spite of wet weather in the forecast, volunteer projects at Mount Rainier National Park will go forward as planned. Come one, come all -- but dress warmly and bring your Gortex!

Depending on conditions, trail work may be moved to a more sheltered location.

In related news, President Obama has issued a Presidential Proclamation in support of our volunteer efforts. Well, not our efforts specifically, but, dear volunteers, he was speaking in part to you!

NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY, 2013
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Atop soaring mountain peaks, alongside bubbling streams, in woodlands and grasslands that stretch over rolling hills, Americans find inspiration in our great outdoors. Just as our diverse and rugged landscapes reflect our national character, the way we care for these open spaces mirrors our commitment to future generations. On National Public Lands Day, we celebrate the lands we share and gather to conserve our natural heritage.
For two decades, Americans have observed this day by lending their time to the restoration of our country's historic places and natural treasures. Across our country, volunteers beautify parks, waterways, and wilderness areas. Through these small acts -- from planting trees to carving out trails, removing litter, and curbing the growth of invasive species -- volunteers carry forward a long tradition of conservation and public service. Their spirit is at the heart of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which is making the outdoors more accessible to all Americans. Since I established this initiative, we have expanded access to recreation, restored critical landscapes, and created urban parks and water trails. We are also working with partners to let young people serve as volunteers in our parks and help returning veterans find meaningful jobs protecting and enhancing America's great outdoors.
As we come together to honor and restore America's public lands, we recognize their role in shaping our history, enriching our lives, and bolstering our economy. Today, as we mark the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day, let us pledge to maintain these open spaces. And let us pass forward the opportunity to experience their majesty, connect with our natural heritage, and refresh our bodies and minds.
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 28, 2013, 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-sixth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
BARACK OBAMA

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Finalizing plans for National Public Lands Day

Saturday, September 28, is National Public Lands Day: the biggest volunteer day of the year for us here at Mount Rainier National Park. In anticipation of the event, we've been planning a full set of projects, and our volunteer program staff have spent the afternoon walking our soles off getting prepared.

This year's events fall into two categories:

  1. Trail maintenance, in cooperation with National Park Service and Washington Trails Association crew leaders. It sounds like trail work is planned for the beautiful Golden Gate Trail and maybe a second location somewhere in the Paradise area. Yes, in case you're wondering, we did have a dusting of snow up there last night! It melted off pretty quickly today, though, and the snow level's forecast to stay high over the next few days. Bring gloves and layered clothing, but temperatures should be nice and cool for hard work.
     
  2. Restoration of the Longmire Campground, an ongoing effort that is coming tantalizingly close to completion. Saturday's work will fall into several categories: taking down the platform tents that are used during the summer season, and hanging them up to dry; disposing of the the last of the storm debris that volunteers gathered last year from 50 years of accumulation; cutting some of that debris into firewood for use by volunteers; doing a thorough trash pickup, including the remnants of an old kiosk that collapsed a year ago; tidying up some fallen hazard trees by lopping limbs; cleaning up the remnants of an illegal campfire ring; and propping up picnic tables and tent platforms for the winter.
Among these options, there should be plenty to do for volunteers of all ages and ranges of abilities, and plenty to keep us busy from 9:00 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon. If the weather is poor, we may knock off early, but so far the morning of the event looks cloudy but dry. The work will go on regardless! It may also be dryer or wetter up here than it is at your home, so come prepared to stay dry. Here's a link to the National Weather Service's official forecast for the park.

And last but not least, remember that if you plan to camp in the Volunteer Campground Friday or Saturday night, be sure and send a note to Joshua Jones at Joshua_Jones@partner.nps.gov to reserve a site.

We look forward to seeing you all this weekend!

Through the Rain, Sleet and Snow


The volunteers of Mount Rainier National Park are still arriving this 2013 season to dedicate time and energy to Mount Rainier National Park. For the past 20 years groups of students from the MEAD Alternative Learning School in Spokane, WA have been coming to Mount Rainier to offer services that contribute to the revitalization of the park. From storm debris removal in the 2006 flood, Restoration of the parking lot around Paradise Inn and the Jackson Visitor Center, and this week, planting along the Steven Canyons Road.

“We want to create an opportunity for these kids to be exposed to a National Park and understand the purpose that the parks represent,” says Carole Allen the group’s leader. “How an idea and a attitude towards preserving such wonderful places can be experienced by these kids, so when they bring their children back, they will have an understanding to educate them on why they should take care of these special places.”

From all of us here in the National Parks we want to thank all the volunteers that have contributed to the preservation of Mount Rainier National Park. We also want to express an appreciation to groups like the MEAD Alternative Learning School that invoke a purpose of stewardship in the next generation.

We will be finishing out the season with various volunteer projects in the park on Saturday September 28th for National Public Lands Day. The Nation’s largest, single day volunteer effort for public lands.

This year’s event will take place on the west side of the park, with registration by the National Parks Conservation Association beginning at Longmire at 8:00am and the day’s work kicking off at 9:00.

If there are those who are interested in volunteering, but need to stay closer to home, you can find opportunities at http://www.publiclandsday.org/ to find something in your area.




Kudos to Astronomy and Fair Volunteers!

I've received two good reports in my office over the last 24 hours. The first is from Jim Ross, who coordinated our volunteer presence at the Mount Rainier National Park booth at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup:

Just got back from the fairgrounds and the final cleanup of the building. The big-leaf maple challenge puzzle was completed 311 times. We estimate the fisher puzzle was completed 2400 times since it was completed 5-10 times for every time the challenge puzzle was completed. Although total numbers were down some this year, I feel it was one of our best years at the fair.

The second report is from Curt Jacquot, who supervises the volunteer astronomy program at Paradise:

Our "Star" volunteer Don West-Wilke set records for contacts and hours this season. He worked Thursdays through Mondays every week from June 14 through September 15.

Total Contacts: 10,192
Total Hours: 595.5

These two reports represent tens of thousands of people who learned about Mount Rainier and its stellar resources who would have otherwise been left in the dark. Great work, everyone!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Volunteers will work on trails and campground restoration at Mount Rainier on National Public Lands Day, September 28 – Entrance fees to be waived

Mount Rainier National Park News Release
September 23, 2013For Immediate ReleaseKevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager360-569-6567, Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov

Mount Rainier National Park will celebrate National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 28, 2013, with several volunteer projects open to public participation. The work day caps a busy summer in which nearly 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 170,000 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 will help coordinate registration for the event beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Longmire, six miles inside the southwest entrance to the park. After a brief welcome at 9:00, participants will divide into work groups. The Washington Trails Association and Park Service crew leaders will lead trail maintenance projects around Paradise, while other crews will continue historic restoration work in a campground at Longmire that is used by volunteers, school groups, and other park partners. Trail work is suitable for ages 16 and up, while campground restoration is good for all ages.

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.

Free camping at the Longmire Campground is available both the day before and after National Public Lands Day for event participants. Contact Joshua Jones at Joshua_Jones@partner.nps.gov to reserve a campsite.

Volunteers at Mount Rainier National Park maintain trails, patrol wilderness areas and climbing routes, assist and educate visitors, conduct research as citizen scientists, plant native plants, and catalogue historic records. Last year, 1,804 volunteers contributed 74,615 hours of service, an effort valued at $1.65 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 atwww.nps.gov/mora, or on its volunteer program blog at rainiervolunteers.blogspot.com.

- NPS -

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Washington Trails Association!


On Saturday September 14th the WTA turned 20 years old. Since 1993 the WTA volunteers have given thousands of hours to the state of Washington’s trail systems.  On the Pinnacle Peak trail in Paradise brand new as well as seasoned veterans of the organization enjoyed the sunshine in direct view of Mount Rainier installing culverts, water logs, and building laddered steps. The WTA has trail parties in the Park every weekend Friday through Sunday till the end of September as well as other projects throughout the state. If you are interested in being a part of such a rewarding opportunity you can go to their website at wta.org to see what they are all about.

Not such a bad place to work
Volunteers installing a culvert on the Pinnacle Peak Trail
Happy Birthday WTA