Sunday, June 30, 2013

WTA Pyramid Creek Project


Five determined volunteers with the help of WTA Crew Leader Jen Gradisher and MORA Trail Crew Leader Dan Font were willing to brave the rain and accomplished a substantial amount of work grading and brushing the Wonderland Trail where it leads into Pyramid Creek on June 21. If you missed this event, more opportunities are available. The WTA will be working in the Park Fridays through Sundays in various locations throughout the summer season. Those who are interested should sign up through the Washington Trails Association website at
Photos: NPS/Joshua Jones 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

High Visibility Team

 A highly visible team of Mount Rainier Volunteers patrolled a two-mile section of Hwy 706 for litter today, sporting brand-new ANSI-approved vests from the state Department of Transportation. The crew participates in a partnership with WADoT's "Adopt-a-Highway" program. Several members were returnees on their second or third work party with the group.

Prior to every patrol, group members receive a brief orientation to advise them on the proper handling of certain dangerous items they may find along the roadside. While on their beat today, the workers encountered a suspicious container which they believed might have been a "one-pot cooker" used in producing methamphetamine. The location was reported and the object was investigated by a deputy who determined that it was not a meth lab.

Walk with us in the 4th of July Parade!

You can be in this picture.

To give the Town of Eatonville a proper thanks for all their support, we need park staff and volunteers, including scouts.  We need flag wavers, sign carriers, "banner babes" (banner dudes?), and folks smiling, waving, and giving high fives.  If you normally wear a uniform, please do so for the parade. 
If you wish to take part, we gather at 11:30 AM, usually on Pennsylvania Ave., near Lynch St., one block west of the football stadium at Eatonville High School.  The exact spot is different each year and is not known until we arrive.  Just look around for some ranger hats.  For more information contact Jim Ross at 360-569-6568.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Special Meet-and-Greet Opportunity

Trails is hosting three groups of high-school aged SCA youth this summer; they will each be here for a 15-day period. Each group has 2 adult leaders and a different set of 8 youth from JBLM and the surrounding areas. Trails will be putting them to work, but also want to provide them a broad experience, introduce them to the many disciplines within the Park, and increase their interest and connection to this awesome place. Many people are unfamiliar with the dynamics of the Park and the inter-workings of how we function as a city, so the plan is to have at least one person from each work group make contact.

Simple---Stop by and introduce yourself

Admiration of youth
Warm fuzzies from the positive impact on our youth
Pride in promoting the Park and your contribution to its success

One to five minutes

July 1st - 13th (not July 4 or 9). Longmire
July 22nd - August 2nd. Ohanapecosh
August 12th - 24th. Longmire
(They may be inaccessible many of these days)

Available in the field until 4:30
Available at their campground after 4:30

Contact Melody Abel at to set up a date/time/location
Or, if you see them, feel free to take the opportunity to say hello

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Everyone Loves A Parade!

Join Mount Rainier National Park rangers in the Eatonville 4th of July Parade! Last year the Town of Eatonville gave us the honor of leading off the parade as we remembered Rangers Margaret Anderson and Nick Hall. This year we would like to thank the folks of Eatonville for their support during that difficult year.

To give the town a proper thanks, we need park staff and volunteers, including scouts. We need flag wavers, sign carriers, "banner babes and dudes", and folks smiling, waving, and giving high-fives. If you normally wear a uniform, please do so for the parade.

If you wish to take part, we gather at 11:30 AM, usually on Pennsylvania Ave. near Lynch St., one block west of the football stadium at Eatonville High School. The exact spot is different each year and is not known until we arrive. Just look around for some ranger hats! Contact if you'd like to participate.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Exotic Plant Removal - "Deveg"

The MRNPA will be holding its annual Exotic Plant Removal ("deveg") party on Saturday, July 13 this year. Although last year's project was done on the Westside Road, NPS leaders are currently evaluating this year's plant growth and the possibility of working at another area. The location will be announced when plans are firmed up.

Participants in the project are not required to know about native and non-native plants. NPS crew members will work with you and tell you which plants to remove, and will be happy to identify native plants for you as well.

You should bring are work gloves, a small digging tool like a hand trowel or your favorite weed removing tool. You will not be expected to use or carry larger tools like pulaskis or shovels. Also bring a lunch, plenty of fluids to drink, and dress according to the weather.
The crew will meet at 8:30 AM and will start work at 9:00 AM. Expect to finish about 3:00 PM.  When you enter the Park, tell the ranger at the gate that you will be working on a volunteer project and you will be admitted to the Park for free.

If  you plan to attend this work party, please reply to John Titland at

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sky Viewing

Our stellar volunteer astronomer Don West-Wilke is back for another summer season! Don will be setting up his telescope outside Jackson Visitor Center Thursday evenings through Monday afternoons with additional telescopes and astronomical binoculars available for nighttime viewing. Daytime sessions will offer observers a chance to use a solar telescope. Any visitor, employee, partner or volunteer is invited to attend. 

If you would like to volunteer to help with night sky viewing, please reply via email to Don will provide the necessary training to assist visitors with one of our many new devices.

Summer Sky Viewing at Mount Rainier National Park
Learn about sky viewing and enjoy a truly unique wilderness experience. 

Join Park Volunteer Don West-Wilke to learn about the National Park Service's
Natural Lightscapes Program as you view the night or day sky.

Schedule through September 15
All viewing takes place in front of Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise

Day Sky viewing via a solar telescope
Friday through Monday: 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM
(weather permitting) 

Night Sky viewing via telescopes and astronomy binoculars
Thursday through Sunday
Just after dark until at least midnight 
(weather permitting)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pre-4th of July Litter Patrol

Litter is an ongoing problem, and we want to have our gateway to the Mountain looking nice for our Fourth of July visitors. Therefore, we'll be conducting another litter patrol on Saturday, June 29 as part of our partnership with the state Dept. of Transportation's Adopt-a-Highway program. They limit us to twelve participants, so if you're interested, sign up soon! Gloves, safety vests, bags and "long-armed grabbers" will be provided. Hard hats are optional, so if you want to wear one, bring your own. New participants must watch a five-minute DoT training video, available on line at Please contact Crow at if you want to sign up!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stick Pickers!

Storm debris has been accumulating in the Longmire campground for many years, and the customary means of disposal (dispersal) had proven to be less than effective. A ring of downed limbs and branches was building up behind the campsites faster than Nature could accommodate. Last year, two teams worked to bring the debris forward where it was hoped crews could be brought in to load it into drop boxes for removal, or alternately, that it could be chipped and distributed into the campground environment.

For the last two weekends, Volunteers have been hard at work clearing away the piles created by last year's work parties. On June 8, geocachers participated in their annual "CITO" event at the campground, and today (June 15), another team of nine individual volunteers gathered near the platform tents at 9:30 for a second assault. Four hours later, two 15-yard drop boxes had been filled to capacity, accounting for approximately 75% of the debris.

In another move to alleviate the problem of debris accumulation, volunteers and paid employees staying in the campground have been given permission to utilize wood from the piles for campfires. Some larger pieces have been stacked at various convenient locations. Please note that gathering of other wood in the campground is still prohibited! You may only use the wood which has been piled or stacked by the work crews.

Crow's personal gratitude as well as the Park's goes out to all the hard-working folks who have pitched in (literally!) on this project. Longmire Campground is now a much more pleasant environment, thanks to you!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chris Maser - "Forest Ecology"

Chris Maser's "Forest Ecology" talk has been rescheduled for June 20th.
The time: 8:30 until noon.
The place: Longmire Community Building.

Feel free to join us! The presentation will include a walk around the Longmire Volunteer Campground.

All-Park Safety Meeting - Volunteers Are Invited

Any interested Volunteer is invited to attend the annual All-Park Safety Meeting on Wednesday, June 26th. It will be held in the gymnasium of Columbia Crest School from 12:30-4:30 PM. Featured speakers will include David McEvoy and Jay Satz.

From the Safety Committee release: "There are causal factors that come up again and again when looking at why employees get hurt or die on the job. Two of these factors are risk normalization and understanding the difference between personal safety and standards of professional safe work habits while on the job...This presentation, led by two park partners who are career professionals with expertise in safe work analysis and accident prevention, will help employees define and mitigate these common human factors."

During the meeting, participants will be broken into work groups to engage in facilitator-led risk assessment exercises pertinent to their divisions. There will also be an optional fire extinguisher training at the end of the session. You must sign in at your division's table upon arrival for assignment to a group.

Blog access is back!

As some of you may know, we've been locked out of administrative access to this blog for about the past six months, due to a snafu in the conversion of our e-mail system to gmail over the winter. Some of you have noticed and commented that elements in this blog are out of date and haven't been updated, that links are broken, or that comments weren't being moderated and posted.

Well -- we're back! Administrative access has been restored, and I will spend the rest of this morning cleaning up the old errors. My apologies to everyone for the inconvenience. And if you have a blog of your own, here's the Lesson Learned: make sure you have more than one "administrator"!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Campground Cleanup, Part Deux!

Good news, for those of you who missed the sunshine and camaraderie this past weekend -- we have confirmed a second weekend project to continue cleaning up storm debris in the Longmire Campground!

We will plan to begin work at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, meeting at the Longmire Community Building. (Turn past the old stone-foundation Administration Building at Longmire -- the one with the flagpole in front -- and cross the Nisqually River on the suspension bridge. The Community Building is a few hundred yard further along the river.)

The rumor about this project has spread, so we already have several individuals and families that are interested in joining us. If you'd like to do so as well, please RSVP to or 360-569-6567. Also let us know whether you plan to camp. We can provide free campsites and access to the shower building. We also now have five platform tents set up that could be used, each with two cots. The campsites will hold RVs up to about 25' in length.

Our project will involve cleaning up winter storm debris -- we began the process this past weekend, but there are still sites and stretches of the campground road on the back of the loop that need to be cleaned up -- and gathering existing piles of storm debris to dispose of in a large bin for removal to a more appropriate site. We have wheelbarrows, rakes, and brooms. We have a small supply of gloves, but recommend bringing your own if you have them. Be sure to bring water, snacks, and a lunch as well. We'll work until the drop box is full, or until you all run out of steam!

See you there!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Photos from the Longmire Campground


On June 8, volunteers helped set up the Longmire Volunteer Campground for the season. Here are a few photos to enjoy from the event!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tents Up!

A hard-working batch of geocachers and Mount Rainier Volunteers gathered together today in the Longmire Campground for the annual spring cleanup and installation of five platform tents which serve as temporary housing for volunteers throughout the summer months. The event was officially billed at as a "CITO" (Cache In, Trash Out) and was the seventh annual gathering of this type at this location. The work went smoothly. Participants ranged in age from pre-school kids to senior citizens, each contributing their best efforts to the project. Go, Volunteers!

The Volunteer Program is hoping to enlist a second cleanup team to remove storm debris next weekend. Stay tuned to this blog for updates, and if you're interested in participating, please contact Kevin via for more details.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Longmire Campground opening tomorrow -- both geocachers and non-geocachers are welcome!

"Mostly sunny, freezing level near 13,500 feet." That's the weather forecast for tomorrow in Mount Rainier National Park! If you're looking for something worthwhile to do on a gorgeous day, consider joining us for our annual Longmire Campground Opening volunteer project. We'll be setting up platform tents and picking up storm debris that has accumulated in the campsites over the winter. It's fun, low-key work, and only takes a couple of hours; by lunch time, we'll be ready to sit in the sun and eat our picnics along the Nisqually River.

As is our tradition, this year's campground opening is sponsored by local geocachers. However, the project is not limited to geocachers. And, it's also a great opportunity to find out about geocaching if you've been curious!

For more information, visit the geocache page for this event here. RSVP by sending an e-mail to, or just show up at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 8. For those of you without GPS units, meet at the Longmire Campground. Enter Mount Rainier National Park by the southwest (Nisqually) entrance -- let the rangers at the gate know you're volunteering so that they don't charge you a fee -- and drive six miles to Longmire. Turn right just past the National Park Inn and follow the road marked "dead end" until it crosses a suspension bridge. A few hundred yards further you'll come to a small building and parking lot. Park there and follow the campground loop counter-clockwise to meet up with the volunteer team.

If you'd like to extend your weekend, consider camping in the Longmire Campground after your work day. Camping is free for working volunteers, and volunteers have access to the only public showers in the park!

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

MRNPA - The Mine Trail, Part Two

The June 15th MRNPA trails work party hopes to finish up the project begun on May 18 repairing the Mine Trail at Carbon River, and would appreciate your help.

The Mine Trail trail begins approximately 1.25 miles from the entrance on the Carbon River Hike and Bike Trail. It is a .26 mile trail leading to an old mine once owned by Washington Mining and Milling Co. These days the mine is closed off, but the history remains. Trail work will include maintenance and widening and smoothing the trail tread.

MRNPA volunteers will meet at the Carbon River Entrance to Mount Rainier National Park at about 8:30 AM.  Be ready to move out by 9:00. Park inside the gate, and please don't block the parking spaces available to the public. Bring your lunch and plenty of fluids to drink, work gloves and safety glasses and a full set of rain gear. A few vehicles will be used to shuttle people up the road.

Anyone using an aggressive tool (Pulaski, ax, shovel, etc.) or working near someone who is using them is required to wear a hard hat and safety glasses. Safety glasses and hard hat are strongly recommended but not required for people working with less aggressive tools.

If you can attend and have not yet contacted John Titland, please drop him a note at to indicate that you are coming and tell him how many volunteers you are bringing with you.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Volunteer Newsletter, June 2013

Longmire Campground Still Needs Hosts!

Are you looking for a summer position as a campground host? Longmire Volunteer Campground needs you! Specifically, we're looking for someone to live in the campground in their own RV and coordinate the use of 31 tent sites, 2 group sites, and several Park-provided platform tents. As host, you will be taking reservations and assigning campsites, making sure guests are aware of campground regulations and that they comply with them while making sure everyone feels welcomed and supported. Your duties will consist of dealing with challenges as they come up (illegal campers, people who've lost their keys, loose dogs and so on), maintaining, cleaning and restocking a comfort station with three showers, and assigning/retrieving keys from campers, and keeping the campground free of camping litter.
It's a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job, with flexible hours since you'll need to be on call whenever volunteers arrive or need assistance. For more details, fill out an application today at or contact Kevin Bacher directly at 360-569-6567 or
MRNPA Trails Project at Carbon River
The June 15 Mount Rainier National Park Associates (MRNPA) volunteer trails work project will be working on the Mine Trail at Carbon River, continuing the work done on May 18. MRNPA volunteers will meet at the Carbon River entrance at about 8:30 AM.  Volunteers should park inside the gate in order to leave parking spaces available to the public.  If you are interested in participating, please contact John Titland at and let him know how many people will be in your group.
CITO the Mountain
Are you a member of the growing group of people who enjoy geocaching? If so, join us on Saturday, June 8 at the Longmire Campground and help set up platform tents and clean up storm debris from the winter. This annual event is one of many loosely-defined "Cache in, Trash out" events organized by For details of this year's event, visit
Recruiting for MeadoWatch
Love hiking and viewing Washington's alpine wildflowers? Interested in gaining an understanding of how scientists study the potential impacts of climate change on native plants? If so, MeadoWatch (a program developed by the University of Washington Biology Department) would love your help this summer! Wildflower surveys will occur between late June and late September (depending on the snow season), and will start and end at Reflection Lakes. Volunteers will collect information on plants, and in return, will get free entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park, and the option of camping 1-2 nights without charge at the Volunteer Campground at Longmire during the survey.
For more information, please visit the MeadoWatch website at
or contact Anna Wilson, MeadoWatch Coordinator at
Wilderness Volunteers
Wilderness Volunteers will be giving something back to Mount Rainier National Park over Sept. 8-14, 2013 as they pitch in to help with revegetation of a popular area near Sunrise. Volunteers will be tent- and car-camping at White River during the project. If you're interested in becoming involved in this frontcountry effort, you're invited to learn more at the Wilderness Volunteers website. Come and enjoy the views while helping with this much-needed restoration.
Adopt-a-Highway Litter Patrol
 Litter is an ongoing problem, and we want to have our gateway to the Mountain looking nice for our Fourth of July visitors. Therefore, we'll be conducting another litter patrol on Saturday, June 29 as part of our partnership with the state Dept. of Transportation's Adopt-a-Highway program. They limit us to twelve participants, so if you're interested, sign up soon! Gloves, safety vests, bags and "long-armed grabbers" will be provided. Hard hats are optional, so if you want to wear one, bring your own. Contact Crow at for more details.
More Trail Projects -- something every weekend!
The MRNPA will be working on several trails projects this year. In addition to the work scheduled on the Old Mine Trail on June 15, another project to be announced is proposed for August 10. Stay tuned to the blog for further details! The MRNPA will also be removing exotic plants on July 13 and will hold a revegetation project at Sunrise on September 7. If you are interested in participating in any or all of the above activities, please contact or visit MRNPA's website at
In addition, the Washington Trails Association (WTA) continues to partner with us to lead trail maintenance projects throughout the park every Friday and Saturday through the summer. Visit and click the "volunteer" link in the banner for a full list of projects throughout the state, and look for the ones marked "Mount Rainier." You can sign up to help right there on their website!
Meadow Rover Training
Meadow Rovers, we have two training sessions coming up for you as well. The first is for incoming Rovers and will be held on Saturday, June 22. The training for experienced Rovers is on Sunday, June 23. Further details will be posted here and also in an upcoming Volunteer newsletter.
Safety Training
The All-Park Safety Training is open to both paid employees and to volunteers and will be held at Columbia Crest School on June 26, 1-4 PM with an optional fire extinguisher session afterwards. Speaker Dave McEvoy (Director, Aerie Backcountry Medicine) will address Risk Normalization and Working at Mount Rainier. For more information, contact
4th of July Parade
Looking for something unique to do on Independence Day? Join the volunteer program in representing Mount Rainier National Park at the annual 4th of July Parade at noon in Eatonville! If you're interested in walking with our group, send an e-mail to
What's Been Going On
You may have noticed that the links to the Volunteer Calendar at the top and right of the blog page are not working properly. A new version can be found here or if you have Google calendar yourself, subscribe to ours and keep up to date on a daily basis.
Coming up: Longmire Campground upgrades! We've received grant funding from two different sources, and as soon as the paperwork is finished and supplies are purchased, we'll be organizing work parties to build picnic tables and install fire grates! Watch the blog and newsletter for details on these upcoming projects.
On a personal note, I'd like to thank my coworkers -- Ingrid Nixon, Lee Snook, Fawn Bauer, Patti Wold, and especially Crow Vecchio -- for stepping in at the last minute to cover for me this last week of the month while I had minor surgery. It wasn't the time I would have chosen to be away, but I couldn't have chosen a better team to keep things running in my absence!