Monday, September 9, 2013

Volunteer Newsletter, September 2013

National Public Lands Day, September 28

Our biggest volunteer event of the year is coming up on Saturday, September 28! National Public Lands Day is a nationwide effort by volunteers on public lands that often draws more than a hundred people to Mount Rainier National Park.

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. Trail crews will carpool up to Paradise and Pinnacle Peak to do trail maintenance in partnership with NPS and Washington Trails Association crew leaders, while other volunteers will gather in the Longmire Volunteer Campground to continue its historic restoration and take down wall tents in preparation for winter. Other projects are also being organized, so watch the volunteer blog for details!

As always, free camping in the Longmire Campground is available for anyone who volunteers, and participants will receive a coupon for free entrance into the park on a later date. Please RSVP if you plan to camp, and we look forward to seeing all of you here!

Special Thank Yous

Volunteers always play a special role at Mount Rainier National Park, contributing more than a million and a half dollars worth of work every year. We could never protect our park and its resources, nor serve its visitors, as well as we do, without the help of our volunteers! At no time in the park’s history, with the possible exception of the years following the great flood of 2006, has our volunteer team been more critical to the mission of the park than it has been this summer. The automatic budget cuts known as "sequestration" reduced our budget by 5% over 2012 levels, following several years when our appropriations had already fallen behind inflation. Volunteers have stepped up to help fill the gap, as they always do – serving in visitor centers, patrolling frontcountry and wilderness areas, conducting research, assisting with search and rescue operations, maintaining trails and backcountry facilities, and in general performing work equivalent to almost 150 additional seasonal employees.

Reports of your good efforts come across my desk in the volunteer program office every week: campground hosts setting up makeshift visitor centers and deputizing Junior Rangers when regular visitor centers are closed, meadow rovers helping to respond to emergencies, youth trail crews assisting grateful visitors in spots where trails have washed out, and much more.

Our volunteer program thrives also on the support of partners and sponsors. Washington's National Park Fund has contributed generously to our budget through the financial support of people like you, making possible the purchase of project supplies, housing and vehicle rent, uniforms, and student internships, among others. Additional funding this summer has come from the Youth Partnerships Program, National Park Foundation, Keep America Beautiful, and Glad Corporation, which have made possible youth crews and the purchase of materials to build new picnic tables. The Washington Trails Association continues to coordinate trail work throughout the park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays all summer long. The Student Conservation Association and Geologic Society of America work with us to field student interns. Community groups like the Mount Rainier National Park Associates, Japan Volunteers in Parks Association, and Boy Scouts of America work hard to make sure we have the hands we need to get work done. And hundreds of other individuals and groups contribute their time and sweat every day.

We could not do what we do without your help. On behalf of all of us who work at Mount Rainier every day, all of us who recreate and renew our spirits here, all of us who look up to see if The Mountain is out when we begin our commutes every morning, and all of us who support the purpose and ideas of national parks, thank you.

We Have Opportunities For You!

While the season is winding down, there are still ways to get involved as a volunteer!

Trail Maintenance

The Washington Trails Association continues to lead projects every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through September 29. The next two weekends are scheduled for the Pinnacle Peak trail, including September 14th's 20th Anniversary of WTA. The final weekend of the month is anticipated to be on the Skyline Trail. These are great places to enjoy fall colors while making a contribution to the park! Visit to sign up.

Meadow Roving

Meadow roving will continue through the months of September and early October. Mount Rainier's autumn days bring in many visitors who will find themselves drawn to our beautiful trails. Although Sunrise Visitor Center will be closed, our east-side radios and log books will be at the White River WIC. Continue making radio and campground reservations for Sunrise through and check in with the rangers at the information desk. They will sign out the radio to you. This is also true if you want to wander the Grove of the Patriarchs or Silver Falls trails at Ohanapecosh. There is a radio at the Stevens Canyon Entrance along with a sign-in/out sheet. E-mail your hours and contacts to Check in for Paradise roving at the visitor center as usual.

September 21 Adopt-A-Highway Litter Patrol

Crow is looking for twelve good men/women who are willing to commit approximately three hours the community service we provide in partnership with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation. We will be gathering at Park Headquarters at Tahoma Woods, three miles east of Elbe on SR 706 on Saturday, September 21, 9 AM, and work will go forward rain or shine. "Long-armed grabbers," litter bags, and safety vests will be provided. We will have a limited number of gloves available, so if you have your own, please bring them.

In order to participate in the upcoming patrol, volunteers who have not already done so will need to watch a short training video which features a very young and goofy Bill Nye ("the Science Guy"). The video can be found on the DoT's website at

To sign up for this Adopt-a-Highway event, contact Crow at by September 17 to confirm that you've watched the video.

Winter Operations

It's not too soon to start thinking about ways to help out during the winter. While most park operations that volunteers help with go into hibernation, we still seek volunteers to assist with public snowshoe walks and with the Nordic Ski Patrol. Watch the volunteer blog for information about transitioning from summer meadow roving to winter snowshoe walks; and visit the Washington Ski Touring Club at to find out about Nordic Patrol.

Summer 2014 Campground Hosts

It's also not too soon to apply for next summer’s campground host positions! We hire hosts at Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh, and sometimes White River if we can find someone willing to serve without hookups. At the Longmire Volunteer Campground, we’re working on securing the option of a larger pull-through host site, which should substantially reduce the number of people whose RVs are too large for this 1930s-era campground. All of these positions are already posted on the park’s website and taking applications at

What's Been Going On?

Highlights from August, our busiest month of volunteer activities:

    The Student Conservation Association’s third Community Crew spent two weeks working on trails on the west side of the park, based out of a camp at Klapatche Point.
    The Japan Volunteers in Parks Association celebrated their 20th and final year at Mount Rainier, with volunteer projects cleaning up the Marine Memorial at Round Pass and building 10 Columbia Conservation Corps-style picnic tables in the Longmire Campground.
    Seattle-area Boy Scouts spent three days working on projects at Carbon River, Ohanapecosh, and adjacent Forest Service land.
    Groups from the Sierra Club, Starbucks, Evergreen State College, and Adamah Adventures invested in trail maintenance and campground restoration projects.
    A “Youth Vacation” group led by the Washington Trails Association spent a week working on the Eastside Trail, following an adult “Backcountry Response Team” based at Indian Bar.
    Citizen Scientists surveyed amphibians at Crystal, Marsh, Tipsoo, Bench, Snow, Blue, Mystic, and Three Lakes, as well as Laughingwater Creek. Meanwhile, MeadoWatch volunteers monitored budding, blooming, and seed set on the Lakes Trail, and Cascades Butterfly Survey team members surveyed Paradise, the Naches Loop, and Berkeley Park.

Meanwhile, in this first week of September:

    Volunteers are helping to staff Mount Rainier’s booth and snowshoe activity at the Washington State Fair. Stop by and say hello! You’ll love our new exhibit, "The Fisher at Mount Rainier - A Missing Piece of the Puzzle." Learn about proposed efforts to reintroduce fishers into the Washington Cascades.
    The annual Mount Rainier National Park Associates meadow revegetation work party was Saturday, September 7th. MRNPA volunteers assisted the Mount Rainier ecological restoration crew in planting wildflower seedlings and working to convert a historic campground area near Sunrise back into alpine meadows.

A Good Year for Butterflies!

July was an incredibly sunny month, with many of the Cascades Butterfly Survey monitoring sites snow-free sooner than we've seen in the last couple of years. Teams completed 17 surveys, compared to 5 in July 2012. Nineteen butterfly species were detected, compared to 6 species in July 2012. Sixteen citizen scientists volunteered for the project, compared to 5 in July 2012, counting 942 individual butterflies in contrast to July 2012, when only 71 individuals were inventoried. That's pretty impressive! The butterflies recorded include the following:

    Clodius Parnassian
    Anise Swallowtail
    Margined White
    Western White
    Sara's Orangetip
    Silvery Blue
    Anna's Blue
    Boisduval's Blue
    Arctic Blue
    Purplish Copper
    Mariposa Copper
    Moss' Elfin
    Western Meadow Fritillary
    Arctic Fritillary
    Mormon Fritillary
    Edith's Checkerspot
    Anicia Checkerspot
    Milbert's Tortoiseshell
    Vidler's Alpine

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