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, 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!

- - - - - - -
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.

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 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 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,

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 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, or on its volunteer program blog at

- 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 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

10,000 and growing…

Was the number of plants planted this past Saturday Sept 7th with the help of members of the Mount Rainier National Parks Associates (MRNPA). This year Mount Rainier National Parks’ Revegetation Crew  received help from 25 volunteers. In addition to the volunteers from MRNPA, Boy Scout Troop 573 also contributed time and energy to the revitalization of an old campground in Sunrise.
It was a beautiful day for the event in the Sunrise area. As the project continues Mount Rainier National Park will be forever grateful for the help it receives from its volunteers. In the future there will be always an opportunity for those who want to contribute to the preservation of the park and give back to the mountain that has touched so many.

Park Service Employee giving direction on planting process
Boy Scouts helping with clean up

Nice Artwork

Saturday, September 14, 2013

End of Season for Meadow Roving

Summer seems to have ended and fall is rapidly move onward too.  Thus our days of meadow roving are also coming to an end as the meadows will soon be covered with snow.  The last official day of roving at Sunrise will be on October 6.  As the WIC prepares to close for the season, I will be collecting all of the radios and the logbook.  At Paradise, roving will continue daily through October 14.  During the following three weekends, radios will also be available at the JVC.  This of course holds if we have meadows instead of snow fields.  November 3 will be the last day for meadow roving for this year at Paradise. 

We are currently looking for a volunteer to coordinate the snow roving at Paradise on weekends and holidays or a couple of people who would like to trade off the duties. Housing at Tahoma Woods would be provided.  Contact me at or Kevin Bacher at . 

I have truly enjoyed working with each and every one of you this summer.  You have made my job so much easier with your enthusiasm and your "never give up" attitudes no matter how crazy the trails became.  I look forward to roving with you next summer.

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Friday, September 13, 2013

Butterfly Survey completes successful season

I received the following summary on Wednesday from our Cascades Butterfly Survey volunteers. Let me add my own thanks for all of the awesome Citizen Science that was done this summer!

The total tally for the season has been completed and within our study transects we saw a total of:

1,671 butterflies!

Including incidental species we saw a total of:

35 different butterfly species!

This project wouldn't be as successful without the help of outstanding citizens like yourselves and we hope to see you all again next season.

Always watching those butterflies flutter-by,

The Leaping Lepidopterists

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

More photos of volunteers in action

I've received a flurry of photos from volunteer projects around the park lately. It's always a lot of fun to see what everyone is doing, and to share that good work with you! These images come from volunteer Ed Hunds:

Meadow Rover volunteers point the way for visitors at Glacier Vista

And how does this compare with your office?

Volunteers help represent the National Park Service at the Northwest
Outdoors exhibit at the Puyallup - er - Washington State Fair.

Hay! You don't even need snow to try out snowshoeing
with the help of volunteers!

Restoring Sunrise

Volunteer Lawrence Jacobson shared this photo with us of his son Andy, who will soon be a graduate of The Evergreen State College, helping out as a restoration volunteer at Sunrise on September 7. Thanks for your efforts, Andy!

If you've been part of a volunteer project at Mount Rainier, share your photos with us. We'd love to see them!

Park and community says farewell to Japanese volunteers

On August 30, Mount Rainier National Park employees and local community members gathered to say farewell to the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA), a group that has contributed volunteer time and friendship to the park since 1994 and is now moving on to other projects. The event was featured in The News Tribune and the Eatonville Dispatch. Photos from the event, and from this year's volunteer project building picnic tables in the Longmire Campground, can be seen on the park's Flickr page.

Thank you, J-VIPA... you've enriched our park and our lives, and we wish you well!

Conservation Leadership School 2013

The T'kope Kwiskwis lodge of the Boy Scouts of America returned to Mount Rainier at the end of August for what has become an annual gathering of service and training. The group camped at the Boy Scouts' Camp Shepherd, north of the park on Highway 410, and spent two days working on painting and campground cleanup projects at Carbon River and Ohanapecosh. They spent a third day doing trail work in the Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest around their camp.

Thanks for your hard work, everyone! We look forward to seeing you back next year!