Monday, December 29, 2014

A Note from Jeffrey Mayor

Tacoma News Tribune columnist Jeffrey Mayor has often featured stories from this blog in his reporting. On this occasion, we reciprocate with an excerpt from his article "Thanks, goodbyes to distinguished adventurers." Jeff acknowledges one of our own volunteers, saying:

Finally, Amy Mann deserves far more than a tip of the cap.

For 10 years, she has helped the hikers in the South Sound find a place to go each week as the author of The News Tribune's "Hike of the Week" feature. Amy told us a few months ago that she felt it was time to step down, and we sadly accepted her decision.

Amy has been a delight to work with. When we started the Adventure section in 2004, I don't think Amy or I realized how popular the hiking feature would prove.

As her editor, I can say that Amy was someone who never pushed the deadline envelope. She would produce her stories in batches, keeping us ready to go months in advance. It was a trait I always appreciated.

We have come up with a plan to continue the hiking feature, but I will miss having the opportunity to work with and talk to Amy.

I think I might speak for the staff of Mount Rainier National Park when I add, "Thank you, Amy, for all the good press you gave us over the years. You brought many people to the Park who might not have otherwise visited us without your literary enticements. You have been a great representative." ~Crow

Friday, December 12, 2014

Paid climate change internships in national parks

The NPS Climate Change Response Program and the University of Washington are pleased to announce paid summer internship positions related to climate change in national parks. Eligible students are highly accomplished graduate students and upper-level undergraduates (juniors and seniors). Interns must be US citizens or nationals, and be enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program.

Twelve positions are offered in parks and program offices around the country for the summer of 2015--none at Mount Rainier, but Olympic and Crater Lake National Parks, in our corner of the country, are both hiring. Applications will be accepted until late January.
The implications of climate change are challenging and far-reaching, particularly for land managers tasked with protecting the resources of national parks and other protected areas. To meet this challenge, managers need to encourage and make use of the creative and innovative thinking of the next generation of youth scientists and leaders.

The George Melendez Wright Initiative for Young Leaders in Climate Change (YLCC) builds a pathway for exemplary students in higher education to apply cutting-edge climate change knowledge to park management. Through a summer-long internship, undergraduate and graduate students will gain valuable work experience, explore career options, and develop leadership skills under the mentorship and guidance of the National Park Service (NPS). Parks and programs will increase their capacity to understand and respond to climate change and its impacts.

National parks and NPS programs develop and oversee structured projects in one or more of the following interdisciplinary areas: climate change science and monitoring; resource conservation and adaptation; policy development; sustainable park operations; facilities adaptation; and communication/interpretation/education. During the internship, students apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to climate change challenges and communicate with diverse stakeholders. Interns who successfully complete the YLCC, an approved Direct Hire Authority Internship program, will be eligible to be hired non-competitively into subsequent federal jobs once they complete their degree program. These jobs would be in the Department of Interior (DOI), NPS, or one of the other bureaus within the DOI. An intern must qualify for the job in order to be hired non-competitively.
Quick Facts and Deadlines:
  • The YLCC is managed cooperatively with the University of Washington
  • Internship opportunities and application forms are posted on
  • Internships are 12 weeks (40 hours/week) during the summer
  • Interns are paid $14/hour plus benefits
  • Applications are accepted from early December 2014 until late January 2015
Who was George Melendez Wright?
George Melendez Wright was deeply influential in bringing science to the management of America’s national parks. Working as a naturalist in Yosemite National Park in the 1920s, Wright argued that good science was needed for effective conservation. In 1930, he was appointed Chief of the Wildlife Division for the NPS where he encouraged the agency to embrace science-based approaches to conserving species, habitats, and other natural conditions in the parks. Although he died while he was still a young man, Wright’s legacy lives on in the NPS’s commitment to use the best available science for preserving the resources of our National Parks.
For More Information: See the program website,

Monday, December 8, 2014

Volunteers assist with mountain rescue

Every year, volunteers assist with rescues on Mount Rainier. Our first major incident of the winter season occurred last Tuesday the 2nd, and was aided by both a climbing volunteer and several Mountain Rescue units. Volunteers are a vital link in our Search and Rescue chain. Here's the official report from Incident Commander Glenn Kessler:

Late afternoon Tuesday, a  911 call was patched through to Mount Rainier Dispatch from an injured 61-year-old male hiker.  He had broken his lower leg when he slipped on a steep icy slope and fell 50 feet just above Panorama Point coming to rest after hitting a rock hard enough to result in a compound fracture of both lower leg bones of one leg. 

A group of skiers descending from Camp Muir fortuitously came upon the accident site and the injured hiker. The group was better prepared than the great majority of backcountry travelers and was able to radio park rangers with the GPS coordinates and other pertinent information.  They then went to great lengths to protect, rewarm and care for the injured party for several hours of cold and windy conditions while mountain rescue resources were summoned to the park to perform a carryout. 

Teams from Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Seattle Mountain Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescues were battered by high winds as they performed the late night evacuation by rescue litter. The operation included several steep-angle technical roped lowers down the icy slopes of Panorama Point.  Rescue efforts continued into the wee hours of the morning.  The injured hiker was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Winter Operations Training, December 13, 2014

Winter Operations Training will be held in the Community Building at Longmire on Saturday, December 13 beginning at 9:00 a.m. This training, for both full-time staff and intermittent volunteers, will cover the basics of winter travel, emergency response, and "Snow Roving."

Volunteers who are interested in helping out as "Snow Rovers," or with guided snowshoe walks, should plan to attend this training if possible. Alternative orientation opportunities will be available for those who can't make it, but this will be the most thorough option. Returning and new volunteers are both welcome. The training will cover volunteer logistics, safety, road conditions, emergency response, radio use, snow avalanches, winter driving, and hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing routes.

"Snow Rovers," like "Meadow Rovers" in the summer, patrol the meadows above the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise, contacting visitors and assisting them with their experience. During the winter, of course, the meadows and trails are covered by snow, so Snow Rovers focus less on resource protection and more on visitor safety, informing people about current conditions and making sure they are prepared before they head out. The work is done on snowshoes or skis, and focuses on lower-elevation routes near the visitor center. Those who are interested in more extensive patrols, deeper into the wilderness and higher up the mountain, should consider joining the Nordic Patrol, operated by the Washington Ski Touring Club ( Snow Rovers also often help with guided snowshoe walks, especially serving as a "sweep" at the end of a line of visitors to assist those who are having trouble with their snowshoes and to make sure the group stays together.

The Winter Operations Training will begin at the Longmire Community Building, across the suspension bridge from the rest of Longmire, at 9:00 a.m. After a break for lunch, the training will move to the Wilderness Information Center, and then, weather permitting, up the road to the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise. Note that state law requires all vehicles to carry tire chains, and depending on road conditions, chains or 4WD may be required to get to Paradise. At the conclusion of the training, about 2:45 p.m., participants may join an optional snowshoe walk.

Volunteers are needed to make short 5-minute presentations on safety topics during the training. We did this last year and it was very successful. Topics may include hypothermia, frostbite, route finding by GPS or map and compass, the 10 essentials, shoe traction, putting on tire chains, dehydration and sun exposure, winter weather, or any other subject related to staying safe during the winter at Mount Rainier. A PowerPoint projector will be available if you choose to use it, but presentations of any kind are welcome. Please reply to this message ASAP to let us know what you'd like to contribute.

Please RSVP if you plan to participate in Winter Operations Training so that we can get a sense for how many will be attending. You may reply to this message, or write to the general Meadow Rover mailbox at, which will be the standard contact address for correspondence throughout the winter. We are pleased to welcome Taryn O'Connell, who has served with our education staff during the summer, as a winter interpreter and coordinator of the Snow Rover program. She can be reached at the e-mail address.

Bring a sack lunch and warm clothes, and we'll see you on Saturday the 13th!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Volunteering: The Heart of America

I was recently sent a link to a blog post from the University of Southern California's School of Social work, which has created what they call an "infographic" detailing a lot of interesting facts about contemporary volunteers: where they live, why they volunteer, and more. Check it out on their website!

A couple of interesting highlights:
  • 64.5 million people over the age of 16 volunteer every year in the United States. (We have quite a few under that age who help at Mount Rainier, too!)
  • Their contributions work out to almost 50 hours per person, and even at minimum wage, they save agencies and non-profits more than $23 billion every year. (We know from our own experience that volunteers, in fact, often contribute far more than minimum wage-quality work, helping with park management plans, conducting science, leading mountain rescues, and designing trail bridges, for example. Independent Sector estimates the actual average value of volunteer time, based on replacement wages and benefits, at $22.55/hr, which brings volunteer contributions up to a whopping $72 billion.)
  • The Northwest has one of the top concentrations of volunteers in the country. Washington state ranks 9th with 34.4% of its citizens volunteering.
  • Top benefits of volunteering include an increased sense of physical well-being, self-esteem, decreased risk of depression, and a sense of purpose.

Gabriela Acosta, Community Manager for the USC program, says "we can only hope that viewers will see the infographic and be inspired to volunteer and give back to their communities."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Memo to Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

Our volunteer program is doing just fine without the help of another 2006-style flood to motivate us. Thanks anyway,

Mount Rainier National Park


Monday, November 24, 2014

Education program seeks volunteer to help with student correspondence

Do you live within an hour or two of Mount Rainier? Are you looking for a way to help out over the winter months? Do you enjoy correspondence and working with kids?

Then we have a perfect opportunity for you!

Mount Rainier National Park's education program is looking for an individual to help respond to student correspondence. You must be willing to meet at the park's Education Center at 55210 238th Avenue East in Ashford one day per week, and pass a background investigation for use of government computers. Duties will include answering e-mail, writing letters in response to physical correspondence, stuffing envelopes with standard educational packets, and occasionally more complex or creative tasks. For instance, the park frequently receives "Flat Stanleys" in the mail that need to be photographed on site and returned with souvenirs of their visit.

The amount of correspondence varies greatly from week to week. Some weeks the work adds up to only a few hours of effort, while other weeks it may take all day to sort through the whole mail bag. Either way, you'll free up park staff for other duties including leading and planning educational programs. And you'll be dealing with some of the m
ost creative and interesting correspondence the park receives!

If you're interested (or have questions), send a brief resume to Fawn Bauer, Education Program Manager, at Fawn_Bauer (at); call 360-569-6591; or send your own mail to 55210 238th Ave E, Ashford, WA 98304.

===UPDATE 11/25/2014===
Looks like our need is filled at least through the end of the calendar. Feel free to let us know, though, if you're interested in helping in future!

Declining numbers, but a rising road

It's nice when the news is always positive and the numbers are always rising, but in the real world that doesn't always happen.

That's the short version of an e-mail interview I did last week with Jeff Mayor at The News Tribune, talking about our volunteer statistics for Fiscal Year 2014, the results of which were published in Sunday's paper. Our number of volunteers and our number of volunteer hours are both down over the previous two years, and as a government agency we report those numbers transparently. I proposed some possible reasons for the declines -- budget cuts limiting supervisory capacity, a waning sense of urgency as the 2006 floods recede into history -- and more answers will likely come from a deeper dive into the statistics when I get a chance to do so later this winter. It's hard to put a positive spin on smaller numbers, and to do so would be disingenuous.

Still, I'm not by nature a pessimist. I see great and positive things happening with our volunteer program, and great potential for its future. A 5% decline in our number of volunteers still means we maintained 95%, and those individuals had a tremendously positive impact and, by and large, extremely positive experiences. I could list specific examples at length. Our MeadoWatch and other Citizen Science programs have exploded in popularity. Hundreds of volunteers continue to help maintain our trails, with the help of partners like Washington Trails Association. The Student Conservation Association brought teams of youth volunteers to the park for their 20th year, and received a Director's Award for their partnership. Our Emergency Roadside Assistance ("Raven") program saved innumerable vacations by retrieving keys locked in cars and pumping up flat tires. Starbucks and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (oh my!) spread out across the landscape to do good works. And on and on.

I'm really excited about next summer's volunteer program. We've learned, over the past few years of thinner budgets, where the weak links are in our park programs and how to shore them up. We're making progress toward finding funding sources, and strategically applying what we have, to be as effective as possible with our efforts. Volunteers remain key to our success. Quoting Jeff Mayor quoting me: "As budgets have grown leaner, volunteers are an increasingly vital part of our operation," Bacher said. "They’ve always been invaluable as partners with us in protecting the park and serving its visitors, and now more than ever."

So, no, I'm not discouraged. Onward and upward!

- Kevin Bacher
Volunteer Program Manager

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Celebrating the past and future National Park Service

Continuing the theme in my last post about planning for the future, some of you may have noticed that the Centennial of the National Park Service is coming up. Didn't know that? Well, it's still two (short) years off, but I'm sure you'll hear more and more about it as the date gets closer! The specific date is August 25, 2016, but the entire year will be filled with special events commemorating the birth of an agency, and formal recognition of an idea, that has been replicated since all over the world.

Volunteers will, naturally, be part of the celebration, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has already made the Centennial part of her goal to engage one million volunteers annually on public lands. We're still waiting for details about what that will look like at parks like Mount Rainier, but it could well take the shape of exciting new volunteer opportunities!

Symbolizing the creative ways that volunteers already help us out at Mount Rainier, here's a photo from this August's "Shadows of the Past" living history program at Longmire. What better way to look forward to the possibilities of the future, than to get a bunch of people to bring alive Mount Rainier's vibrant past? These summer employees and volunteers are holding signs announcing the kickoff of Centennial publicity. Watch for much more in the months to come!

From left: Volunteer Karen "Virinda Longmire" Andrascik; Geologist-in-Parks
volunteer Nora Rose "Niece Joanne" Hencir; Maureen McLean; Dave "James
Longmire" Oleson; Hayley "Fay Fuller" Edmonston; Scott "John Muir"
McLean; Steve "Grenville Allen" Redman; Benjamin "PB Van Trump" Komar;
and Kelsey "Aunt Eleanor" Isom. Photo by Davis "Ashael Curtis" Root.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Climbers raise $140,000 for Mount Rainier National Park!

Now that our reports of volunteer program success and challenges are wrapping up for 2014, we're busy transitioning into planning for 2015! Yesterday I corresponded with CompassUSA about the possibility of working with new international volunteers. My duties this morning included writing a letter of support for a grant to expand some of the fantastic work our MeadoWatch program is doing to gather climate data with the help of citizen scientists. This afternoon, I've been working on nailing down planning meetings with Washington's National Park Fund and REI for a suite of volunteer projects next August.

The last of these deserves special mention, because this same collection of community partners earlier this year raised more than $140,000 for Mount Rainier National Park in the course of four fundraising climbs! Washington's National Park Fund supports projects in all three of Washington's national parks, and a good deal of their support goes to our volunteer program. This year, for instance, special grants paid for a pair of Emergency Roadside Assistance (nicknamed "Raven") volunteers, and the hiring of Maureen McLean to lead that and our popular Meadow Rover program. An estate grant made in 2010 by Raymond and Eleanor Wilson has helped pay for student interns, project supplies and uniforms, volunteer housing, and other essentials for programs all over the park for the last four years.

The fundraising climbs brought together all three of Mount Rainier's primary climbing guide services -- Alpine Ascents International, International Mountain Guides, and Rainier Mountianeering Inc. -- with Microsoft Corporation and Recreational Equipment Inc. You can read all about their experiences, and enjoy beautiful photos and videos, on a blog entry by one of the climbers and the Facebook page of another.

Whatever way you support Mount Rainier and its volunteer program -- through donations, direct participation, or following along on social media -- we appreciate your contributions in 2014, and we look forward to working with you in 2015!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 Annual Activity and Expense Report

Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Volunteers In Parks
Annual Activity and Expense Report
Mount Rainier National Park
Report Date: Nov 13, 2014
Fiscal Year: 2014

Volunteer Coordinator and Park Information

Total Volunteers: 1,693
Alpha Code: MORA
VIP Coordinator: Kevin Bacher
VIP Coordinator Phone: 360-569-2211
Coordinator Email:

Volunteer hours by category:

Administration: 344.00
Campground Host: 2,872.00
Cultural Resource Management: 2,846.00
General Management: 0.00
Interpretation: 14,505.00
Maintenance: 12,628.00
Natural Resource Management: 9,683.00
Protection/Operations/Law Enforcement: 13,031.00
Training: 1,427.00   
[Total: 57,336.00]

Program costs by category:

Housing: $ 13,759.00
Meals: $ 9,820.00
Recognition/Award: $ 0.00
Supplies: $ 3,585.00
Training: $ 0.00
Transportation: $ 5,237.00
Uniforms: $ 1,274.00

Volunteer Program Highlight

Our program thrives with the help of community partnerships. The Washington Trails Association coordinated 375 volunteers who put in 4,794 hours of work on trails. 38 SCA interns, including 30 members of 3 community crews from Seattle and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, contributed 5,236 hours. 18 interns hired through the Geologic Society of America, the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program, and local universities added another 7,372 hours. Many of these partnerships take the form of crew leaders: hired, for example, to recruit, train, and lead community members in citizen science, trail maintenance, meadow patrol, or glacier research. Two of these partners received major awards this year: the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association, awarded the PWR Hartzog Award for 20 years of partnership, and the Seattle office of the Student Conservation Association, which received the NPS Director's Award for 20 years bringing youth volunteers to the park. Citizen Science continues to be a growing area of interest. Our amphibian and butterfly survey programs continue to flourish, and participation in the MeadoWatch program has exploded. Even casual visitors are now able to participate in a Cascade Carnivore Survey, or submit geotagged photos for analysis by the MeadoWatch program. These programs succeed through partnerships with North Cascades NP and the University of Washington. Funding for our program this year included grants from Washington's National Park Fund and the National Park Foundation.


How many people at the park require VIP Program Mgmt Training: 20

Optional Information Regarding Housing VIPS and Campground Hosts

Number of Campground Hosts: 8
Number of VIPs housed in Permanent Structures: 35
Number of VIPs housed in Trailers: 11
Trailer Pads for Volunteers: 12

Other Information

Number of SCAs: 38
SCA Hours: 5236
Number of Artists in Parks: 0
Artist in Parks Hours: 0
Number of International VIPs: 0
International VIPS Hours: 0
Number of Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps: 0
Volunteer Senior Ranger Corps Hours: 0
Number of Boy Scouts: 53
Boy Scout Hours: 1605
Number of Girl Scouts: 16
Girl Scout Hours: 113

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Don't pick up the leaverite!

When you see a beautiful flower along the trail,
Ranger Maureen McLean says "leaverite there!"
You never know where our volunteer program will turn up. Why, just this past summer we landed in the pages of the esteemed High Country News, in an opinion piece written by Jourdan Arenson featuring our very own Meadow Rover Manager, Maureen McLean!

An exerpt:

If you love the outdoors for peace and solitude, you’ll hightail it to the backcountry. But if you spend some time with Ranger McLean, you can see the American ideal of forming a more perfect national park come to life before your eyes.

Read the whole story here. And if you'd like to help, never fear: the summer Meadow Rover volunteer program will return next June!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tanmoy Ghosh

For "Throw Back Thursday," here's an old but good set of photos. I just got these this year, or I would certainly have shared them two years ago when they were taken! The photographer is Tanmoy Ghosh, an international volunteer who worked with our wildlife program in the spring of 2012, surveying spotted owls (and, as you'll see in his photos, encountering many other forest residents along the way). The photos (taken between May 16 and June 26) tell a story that is typical of the kinds of internships we offer at Mount Rainier in all kinds of fields, hired through the Student Conservation Association, the Geologic Society of America, universities, or the volunteer program.

Seasonal housing at Longmire

The owl crew in the field

Tanmoy is pictured on the far right

The Natural Resources staff, Summer 2012

Monday, November 3, 2014

Shonna Siegers

Last month I promised you photos of volunteers in action. Soon after, I was derailed by a family emergency that has since run its course... so here once again is a set of photos of a volunteer in action this past summer! This is Shonna Siegers, a "Teacher-Ranger-Teacher," leading a Jr. Ranger program at Ohanapecosh Campground, photographed on July 13, 2014 by park employee Mary Wysong. The "TRT" program has been a popular one at Mount Rainier for years, and provides opportunities for classroom Teachers to become Rangers for the summer before returning to their jobs as Teachers in the fall (Teacher-Ranger-Teacher, get it?). It's a wonderful way to get some new experience, and national parks like ours benefit from the expertise of creative and motivated instructors! Visit our Education Program's "Development Opportunities" page for more information, and to learn about another program for geoscience teachers called "Geo Science Teachers-in-the-Parks."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Road Construction - Final Update for the Season

Monday, October 27 to Friday, October 31

Asphalt milling and patching is anticipated, weather dependent.
Road construction is scheduled Monday to Friday from sunrise to 6:00 P.M.
Twenty to thirty-minute delays are possible

November 2014 to Spring 2015
Upon completion of the tasks above, the road will be ready for winter traffic.
Final paving is scheduled to occur in May, June and July 2015.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Photos from National Public Lands Day

Now that the busy summer volunteer season is over, we'll be posting a series on this blog featuring photos from the summer's activities. Our first in this series is from one of our most recent events: National Public Lands Day, at the end of September. Volunteers worked on projects all over the park for this annual event: taking down platform tents and doing some landscaping at Longmire, preparing trails for the winter season at Paradise, building bridges and water bars on the Wonderland Trail below Narada Falls, and planting native plants at Sunrise. Here are a few sample photos. More can be seen the park's Flickr page.

Taking down platform tents in the Longmire
Stewardship Campground

Volunteers head out to work on trails at Paradise

Washington Trails Association volunteers hard at
work on the Wonderland Trail

Revegetating the old Sunrise Campground on a
beautiful September day

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Summer is Ending -NO!

Hard to believe summer has ended and meadow roving is slowing down.  This Sunday, October 5, will be the last day for Rovers at Sunrise.  The radios at the White River Wilderness Information Center will be returned to winter storage on Monday the 6th.  The following weekend will be the last for Paradise.  Sadly, my time will end on the Monday the 12th.  I wish to thank all of you for your dedication to keeping the meadows of Sunrise and Paradise from being loved to death.  I could not do the job without you!

One last project remains - to determine the Meadow Rover(s) of the Year.  For this, I need your nominations.  This award is not based solely on the number of hours, but also on the contributions these volunteers have made to educating the public and fellow rovers.  So send me your nominees-via the  with a brief description as to why you feel they are worthy of this honor.  I will need these by October 10th to allow time for a decision before the end of my season. 

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Tinkering under the hood: national VIP policies now available for public input

The National Park Service's Volunteers-in-Parks program is governed by a set of policies collectively called "Director's Order #7." This policy document is updated periodically to reflect current needs and issues. The last version was enacted almost ten years ago, in June of 2005. A new draft has just been released, and is now open for internal comment through November 10 and public comment through October 26. Here is the complete announcement from our national office (editorial clarifications added in [brackets]):


To:                   National Leadership Council
From:               Chief, Office of Policy
Subject:           Review of Director's Order #7:  Volunteers-in-Parks

The subject Director’s Order--which will supersede and replace the previous version approved by Director Mainella on June 13, 2005--is attached for your [internal] review and comment for a 45-day period, ending November 10, 2014.  

In FY 2012, 257,000 volunteers contributed 6.78 million hours of service to the National Park Service (NPS).  This contribution was valued at $21.79 per hour, for a total value of $148 million, equivalent to 3,260 FTEs.

This edition updates the 2005 Order as follows:
  • The Volunteers-in-Parks program is now administered by the Associate Director, Interpretation and Education.
  • Volunteer reimbursement procedures have been updated as a result of IRS audit findings and newly obtained information on volunteers and travel procedures, in such a way that reimbursements do not create tax liabilities for volunteers.
  • NPS volunteer agreement forms have been eliminated and replaced with an interagency volunteer agreement form, OF 301A.
  • HSPD-12 [Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12] information has been added with guidance for the conduct of background investigations.  Volunteer fee collectors operating a fee booth or station with a point-of-sales system will now be required to undergo an MBI background investigation.
  • Qualified volunteers will now be allowed to apply pesticides.

The draft Order is the subject of a Federal Register notice published on September 26, 2014, inviting comment from the public for a 30-day period.

Joy Pietschmann, the Service-wide VIP Program Manager, will field any comments or questions about the attached Order.  She can be contacted at or 202-513-7141.

The draft Order is available online at:

For comparison, the existing (active) Director's Order can be found at

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Checking in about National Public Lands Day

Our biggest volunteer day of the year is just a day and a half away now! Plans are coming together to offer a wide variety of projects suitable for everyone. Here's a summary of what's happening:

Saturday September 27, 2014

  • All Day: Entrance fees are waived in all National Parks! Working volunteers will receive a fee free certificate that can be used at any national park on a different date.
  • 8:00 a.m. (Longmire): Registration, by the National Parks Conservation Association, will begin at their tent in front of the Transportation Exhibit, between the bathroom and the National Park Inn.
  • 9:00 a.m. (Longmire): Welcome by the Acting Superintendent and Volunteer Program Manager, followed by the introduction of project crew leaders.
  • 9:00 a.m. (Sunrise): Crew leaders will meet planting volunteers in front of the Sunrise Visitor Center.
  • 3:00 p.m.: Most work will wrap up mid to late afternoon. However, if you need to leave earlier, that's O.K. too -- just let your crew leader know.

Weather Forecast 
  • Partly sunny. Freezing level near 9500 feet. (That's about as perfect as a September work day can get!)

  • Skyline Trail
    Location: Skyline Trail between the Visitor Center and Alta Vista
    Project: Finalizing and cleaning up a trail project that has been going on all summer
  • Paradise Trail Winterization
    Location: Trails above Paradise, including Deadhorse Creek and Skyline
    Project: Taking down ropes, bringing in rebar, and preparing trails for the coming snow
  • Narada Falls Trail
    Location: Between Narada Falls and the Wonderland Trail
    Project: Building a turnpike with the Washington Trails Association for a muddy section of trail
  • Longmire Campground Winterization
    Location: Longmire Stewardship Campground
    Project: Taking down platform tents and storing them for the winter; scattering storm debris; stacking and storing firewood; and otherwise preparing the campground for winter
  • Longmire Landscaping
    Location: LongmireProject: Remove alders and conifers growing within 18-24 inches of the rock-lined trails throughout Longmire
  • Sunrise Campground Restoration
    Location: 1 mile hike from Sunrise Visitor Center
    Project: Planting native plants in the old Sunrise Campground
    Note: Meet for this project at 9:00 a.m. in the Sunrise Parking Lot
  • Have a safe, fun day contributing to the stewardship of our National Park!
  • Finish up some important work and prepare the park for the coming winter
  • Improve trails and meadows for the enjoyment of visitors
Thank you for your participation in this year's National Public Lands Day!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Volunteers will work on trails and campground restoration at Mount Rainier on National Public Lands Day, September 27; Entrance fees waived

Mount Rainier National Park will celebrate National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 27, 2014, 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 at Paradise, while other crews will winterize 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 maintenance is good for all ages. Additional projects may be added as well.

Another project, revegetating a former campground near Sunrise, will put a small number of volunteers to work on the east side of the national park. Volunteers interested in planting should meet crew leaders in front of the Sunrise Visitor Center at 9:00 a.m. and plan for a mile-long hike to the project location. This project can only accept about a dozen volunteers. Please RSVP to Kevin Bacher at Volunteers should come prepared for cool, wet weather, with warm clothing, rain gear, sturdy footwear, and gloves. Knee pads are also recommended for planting. 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. Kevin Bacher at to reserve a campsite.

Volunteers at Mount Rainier National Park maintain trails, patrol park roads and wilderness areas, assist and educate visitors, conduct research as citizen scientists, and plant native plants. Last year, 1,784 volunteers contributed 62,736 hours of service, an effort valued at $1.4 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 at, or on its volunteer program blog at

- NPS -

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Toadlets are Here!

Received the following message from our amphibian biologist - Scott Anderson:

I checked Tipsoo lake a couple days ago and Western Toad tadpoles are just beginning to metamorphose into toadlets.  The next two weekends (Sept 19-21, 26-28) would be a great time to have some meadow rover presence along the trail around Tipsoo.  The Toad numbers are not huge this year but there are at least several hundred in addition to hundreds of Cascade froglets.  The newly emerged Cascade frogs have reached the trail and by next week I suspect the toadlets will be crossing the trail.  Both species are concentrated around the inlet creek on the south side of the lake.  I have included a couple of pictures from my recent visit.  The idea would be to help prevent trampling of the toads and frogs as they cross the trail.  Here again is the list of folks who helped Laura and may be interested in helping out.  Please feel free to email or call if you would like additional information.  I will probably send another email out on Monday or Tuesday.  I know it is short notice but this weekend could also be a good time for meadow rover presence but next week will be best.  In the photos note size of toadlets (< 1/2 inch) and cascade froglet ( ~ 3/4 of an inch).

So Meadow Rovers, how about a fun day saving froglets and toadlets  at Lake Tipsoo.  A radio will be made available at the White River WIC.  Send an e-mail through
Thanks so much for helping save the plants and animals of Mt. Rainier National Park.
Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Saturday, September 13, 2014

MVP Walt Reid

Photo courtesy of Walt Reid
Walt Reid, this month's MVP, has been a part of Mt. Rainier’s Volunteers-In-Parks program with his major contributions occurring after the Great Nisqually River Flood of 2006. As a retiree with a background in Forestry and time on his hands, Walt answered the Park’s call for volunteers to help repair and restore the damaged areas near the Nisqually River. He used the Park often and like many volunteers, considered it "give-back" time.

His various contributions include trail work, collecting wildflower seeds, transplanting seeds in the nursery, planting new vegetation around the new Paradise parking area, and digging out Sunrise from under the snow in the Spring. Not only that, he helps rope off restricted areas around Paradise that are still covered in snow, and he helps get the Longmire Campground ready for its volunteer guests in the Spring. He also helps with the Mount Rainier Volunteer Adopt-a-Highway program picking up litter.

As a native of Tacoma, Walt remembers taking trips to Mt. Rainier where he came to consider it "my mountain”. He graduated from the University of Washington and Yale University with degrees in Forestry and spent 41 years working for a local forestry company. After his retirement, his time was freed up to enjoy more hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing at Mt. Rainier. He has a cabin in the Ashford area which gives him easy access to the Park. When not at the cabin, he spends the rest of his time at a farm in Palouse.

When not volunteering at the Park, Walt belongs to an organization of US Masters Swimmers, a program for adults that provides opportunities for fitness and competition throughout the world. For the last 35 years he has been the keeper of the competitive swimming records in the USA and for the last 22 years he has served as the Masters Recorder keeping the competitive swimming records for the World Swimming Organization (FINA). This has given him the opportunity to travel to the Masters World Swimming Championships all over the world!

He was asked what in particular he likes about his Park volunteer work. His reply, “It gives me the opportunity to give back some measure of what the Park has given to me. I get satisfaction in knowing that I am making a difference and that someone appreciates what I have done. I also like the opportunity to spend time with some very interesting people.”

Walt also has a special message for Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager and Petrina "Crow" Vecchio. “I especially want to thank (them) for doing all the planning and organizing of the volunteers. They make it easy for us to know what is available, how to sign up and always give a big ‘thanks’ when the job is done."

~Jean Millan

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Volunteer Newsletter, September 2014

National Public Lands Day! Saturday September 27

Mount Rainier National Park's biggest volunteer day of the year is coming up in a few weeks! This year's event will kick off at Longmire at 9:00 a.m., with registration as early as 8:00 a.m. by the National Parks Conservation Association in front of the Transportation Exhibit next to the National Park Inn. We'll have several trail projects available at Paradise on the Skyline Trail, led by park crew leaders and the Washington Trails Association. A contingent of volunteers will take down platform tents and prepare the Longmire Campground for winter. Additional projects are still being lined up. If enough plants are available, we'll also do revegetation at the old Sunrise Campground. Watch the Volunteer Blog at for updates!

Free camping is available for NPLD participants on either Friday and/or Saturday nights. Please RSVP to Nancy_Mortensen (at) with details of your request, including your name, contact information, nights requested, number of people, and number of tents (or size of RV -- no hookups are available and campsites are small).

Park entrance fees will be waived for everyone on September 27. Volunteers will receive a fee-free coupon to use at a later date.

Share your photos and stories!
As the busy part of our year winds down, we're interested in hearing about your experiences as a volunteer. Send us your anecdotes and photos, and we'll publish them on our volunteer blog and Facebook page. Watch for a special series of blog entries later this month!

Trail maintenance and Meadow Roving continues throughout the month
If you're still looking for ways to volunteer this year, consider joining the Washington Trails Association for trail maintenance projects at Paradise through the end of the month. Visit WTA's website at and click on the "volunteer" tab for a full list of projects. Look for the ones marked "Mount Rainier" for details and to sign up.

Meadow Rovers continue to be invaluable as long as there are meadows to stomp! If you're signed up as a Meadow Rover, we welcome your continued presence at Paradise and Sunrise through the month of September and into October or beyond, as long as weather permits!

Boy Scouts and Community Crews and REI, oh my!
August is always the busiest month of our volunteer program, so let me take this opportunity to thank the many individuals and groups who helped keep the park humming! This includes the Mount Rainier National Park Associates, Boy Scouts of America, ArrowCorps, Recreational Equipment Inc., Starbucks and Microsoft employees, Washington Trails Association, Washington's National Park Fund, Washington Conservation Corps, and Student Conservation Association, to name a few, and my apologies if I missed anyone!

Many of our full-time summer volunteers and interns wrapped up their seasons in the past month as well, and to them we say an additional thank you for their extended service. In addition to "unaffiliated" volunteers, we worked with interns this year through the Student Conservation Association, Geologic Society of America, Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program, Evergreen State College, and University of Washington.

Visit us at the Washington State Fair
If you "Do the Puyallup" this year, stop by the Northwest Outdoors building and say hi to the rangers and volunteers representing Mount Rainier National Park! You can also get a preview of our winter season by taking a "strawshoe" walk with volunteers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September is still trail maintenance month for WTA

Autumn is definitely setting in in the mountains, with cool nights and lots of amber grasses in the landscape. Still, the days are sunny and beautiful with blue skies, and the Washington Trails Association is still busy maintaining trails at Mount Rainier National Park! If you're looking for a late-season volunteer project, check out the full list of WTA projects at, and look for the ones labeled Mount Rainier. This month's work is scheduled for the gorgeous Skyline Trail at Paradise.

A reminder, too: Saturday September 27 will be National Public Lands Day, so mark that on your calendar and plan to come out and help! We'll be doing multiple trail projects in the Paradise area on that date.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Toadlets are Coming! The Toadlets are Coming!

Toad tadpoles will be emerging from Tipsoo Lake as toadlets within the next 1-2 weeks.  Volunteers are needed to help protect the small amphibians and to educate the public. This is important throughout the week, but especially on the busier weekends. I will be getting more information from Scott Anderson one of our amphibian biologists to pass on to the volunteers so you are better informed, but if you are interested, please let me know via  Radios will be placed at White River for use along this rove.   
Also, after the Sunrise Visitor Center closes on September 21st, the radios will be housed at the White River WIC until the 9th of October.  Rovers are always needed until the snow flies (or road closes, or WIC is closed)!  Let me know, and I will reserve the radios.

Please be sure to send me your thoughts and issues encountered while roving.  What would you do to better protect or beautiful park?  What worked well for you this summer?  What frustrated you?  All this information will be presented to the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and the department heads.  E-mails are fine, attach photos to help explain your problem if you have them.   

Lastly, I would like to give Lynn a giant thank-you for all her work this summer.  She has made operations at Sunrise run smoothly and been a tremendous help to me.  Thanks so much Lynn.
Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers