Saturday, August 9, 2014

Volunteer Newsletter, August 2014

Volunteer Picnics Coming Up August 15 and 16 

Join us on Friday, August 15 at the Longmire Community Building or Saturday, August 16 at the Sunrise Picnic Area for our annual Volunteer Picnics! Both picnics begin at 4:30pm and are potluck, so bring something to share. The volunteer program will provide drinks, paper plates, glasses, and plasticware at Longmire, and will bring hamburger patties and veggie burgers at Sunrise. As in previous years, we'll be grilling at Sunrise, so if you have a portable grill to share, please let us know. Both gatherings will be an informal celebration of volunteer activities and a great opportunity to meet fellow volunteers, and are open to all park employees, as well as those interested in learning more about the volunteer program.

To give us a sense for how many people to expect, please RSVP for the Longmire Picnic to Kevin Bacher at Kevin_Bacher (at), and for the Sunrise Picnic to Lynn Kittridge at Lynn_Kittridge (at)

Who Was That Masked Postcard Donor?

In early July, a volunteer brought in a set of small Mount Rainier postcards from 1923 to the Longmire Museum, labeled "Bardell Fototone Miniatures," and wondered if we wanted them. Here's what they look like:$_35.JPG. Ranger Hayley took them and passed them on to our park Curator, Brooke Childrey, who but did not get the volunteer's name and contact information. Brooke would like to follow up with the volunteer to learn more about where the postcards came from, and to complete formal donation paperwork. If you are the one who donated the postcards, please contact her at Brooke_Childrey (at), or 360-569-6784. 

Mount Rainier National Park Receives 2014 America’s Best Idea Grant from the National Park Foundation to Support Student Conservation Association Youth Crews 

Mount Rainier National Park is one of 39 national parks selected to receive a 2014 America’s Best Idea grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. Inspired by Ken Burns’ critically acclaimed documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” this program builds partnerships between national parks and community, state, and other public organizations, and engages diverse audiences in meaningful and relevant ways with national parks and inspires participants to become stewards of our National Park System.

“The America’s Best Idea program connects people – particularly youth – to America’s national parks, often for the first time,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Through meaningful and memorable in-park experiences that highlight the natural, cultural, and historical treasures in our National Park System, we are able to inspire the next generation of park-goers.”

“We want everyone to find themselves in a national park,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “These National Park Foundation grants will help people acquire a better understanding of their national parks and, hopefully, of themselves, through place-based learning and recreational activities. Native Americans who will visit traditional homelands, budding scientists who will study environmental impacts, and students from Gallaudet University who will examine aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act are among the many groups which will benefit from the grants.”

At Mount Rainier, National Park Foundation funding will support three teams of youth recruited by the Student Conservation Association (SCA) from communities in Seattle, and from Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM) through SCA’s “Base to Base Camp” program. Eight high school students and two crew leaders in each Community Crew will spend fifteen days working on trail maintenance projects throughout the national park, repairing trail tread and building bridges at sites like Klapatche Park and the Wonderland Trail. This is SCA’s 20th year fielding Community Crews at Mount Rainier, and the third for its Base to Base Camp program. Eleven students from JBLM joined thirteen from Seattle on last year’s crews. This year’s crews will be in the park from July 6th through August 31st.

“We are pleased to have Community Crews back at Mount Rainier this year,” said Superintendent Randy King. “These young people play an important part in the protection and care of our national parks, and they also represent the next generation of park stewards.” Many graduates of past Community Crews have gone on to serve as seasonal or career rangers with the National Park Service or other agencies.

Upcoming Events

Daily: Meadow Rovers Needed!

Meadow Rovers are always needed, and this is one of our busiest times of year! We've been a little short on Rovers at Paradise especially, so if you have a day free, come on up and help out! The wildflowers are nearing their peak, and bus loads of tour groups are showing up with increasing frequency. We need rovers who can provide a welcome and reminder to groups as they arrive, and to station themselves at critical areas to remind visitors of the importance of staying on trails, even if there's a tempting patch of snow or wildflowers visible in the distance. Contact us at MORA_Meadow_Rovers (at) to let us know when you're coming up.

Thursdays-Mondays: Star-Gazing at JVC

Join our stellar cast of volunteer astronomers outside the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center Thursday through Monday nights this summer. There will be telescopes available and knowledgeable guides to help you enjoy the wilderness of the night sky. Star-gazing will take place just after dark through at least midnight (weather permitting, subject to cancellation). Our Astronomers this summer:

Tom and Gracie Pauly of the Starryhill planetarium ( Yes, they have their own planetarium and observatory!  These retired teachers are top notch at helping people connect to the wonder of the night sky (Thursdays only).

Don West-Wilke: Our returning Tacoma Astronomical Society Astronomer of the Year. He annually records more visitor contacts than anyone in the park. One of the most knowledgeable and colorful astronomers in Washington. Sometimes called "the Singing Astronomer" (Saturdays only).

Pat Beatie: This Bellevue college astronomy teacher will be helping people connect to the night sky five nights a week (Thursdays through Mondays). He often also sets up a solar viewing scope during the day next to the JVC.

Fridays-Sundays: Trail Maintenance with the Washington Trails Association

WTA continues to lead trail work throughout the park every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will do so at least through Labor Day. If you're looking for a way to help out, this is a sure-fire opportunity! Visit WTA's website at and click on the "Volunteer" tab at the top for a list of projects throughout the state. Look for the ones marked "Mount Rainier" to help out here! 

September 6: Planting Day

Mount Rainier's annual volunteer planting day will be on September 6 at Sunrise. The Mount Rainier National Park Associates ( will be there, but the project is also open to anyone who wants to help. Watch our blog ( for details coming soon!

September 6: Mount Rainier Volunteers Adopt-A-Highway

In partnership with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, Mount Rainier's volunteers make litter patrols along Hwy 706 three times a year. This stretch of highway includes the Park's Tahoma Woods frontage. For more information or to sign up for our September 6 event, contact Crow at petrina_vecchio(at)

September 27: National Public Lands Day

Mark your calendars: this year's National Public Lands Day will be Saturday September 27. We're still working out the details, but the day's project work will likely include trail maintenance and native planting, and will probably be based out of White River and Sunrise. Activities will be suitable for all ages. Save the date!

Ongoing: Amphibian Surveys

Laura Davis is looking for volunteers to help conduct surveys to document the presence or absence of amphibian species at various lakes, ponds and wetlands with an emphasis on historical Western Toad sites. The surveys will involved hiking to predetermined sites and will be concerned with finding, identifying and measuring amphibians at all stages of development. You do not need any previous experience and surveying equipment will be provided. You may volunteer once or multiple times throughout the season. If you need to stay overnight, free camping is available at Cougar Rock, White River, Ohanapecosh and Longmire campgrounds. Longmire since is the closest to the meeting point. Both day trip and overnight backpacking surveys will be done throughout the park.

If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact Laura Davis via laura_davis(at)

What's Been Going On

BSA, GSA, MRNPA, REI, SCA, WNPF, WTA, and Starbucks (Oh My!)

To say that July and August have been busy with volunteer groups would be a bit of an understatement! Here's a quick and incomplete sampling of those who've been working with us this month. Our eternal gratitude goes to all of our volunteers who help keep their national park running in excellent condition!

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) gathered at Camp Sheppard, north of the park, the week of August 3rd, for their annual ArrowCorps Conservation School, organized by the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts' leadership corps. They helped rebuild picnic tables and perform general maintenance in the Paradise Picnic Area, and completed a long stretch of brushing on the Wonderland Trail in Stevens Canyon. They were joined on the latter project by members of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), a youth employment program that draws from local high schools.

The Girl Scouts of America (GSA) showed up with troop 52767 on July 25th, and earned their Stewardship Patches by completing 10 hours apiece of combined education and volunteer service by working with ranger Ryan Cyphers McLoughlin (ed. correction) in the Paradise meadows.

The Mount Rainier National Park Associates (MRNPA) was here on August 2nd for their annual picnic and a trail project near Narada Falls. They will be back next month on September 6, planting native plants at Sunrise.

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and Washington's National Park Fund (WNPF) are out in force this weekend, August 9th, doing a fundraising climb on Mount Rainier. The Fund supports projects in Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks, including our climbing, trails, and volunteer programs. More than half of our volunteer budget, in fact, comes from donations through WNPF! Learn more at

The Student Conservation Association (SCA)'s Community Crew program is wrapping up its second of three crews this weekend. The first group of 8 students and 2 crew leaders, drawn from high schools in the Seattle area and from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), kept busy with trail work near Narada Falls in July, while the second team has been working on trail maintenance and bridge construction on the Wonderland Trail near Myrtle Falls. The third and final crew will arrive August 17 for its 15-day assignment, tentatively scheduled to be near Klapatche Point.

The Washington Trails Association (WTA) has been busy all over Mount Rainier, working on trails near and far, most recently along the scenic Skyline Trail at Paradise. They continue to lead public volunteers every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so sign up (at and pitch in! You could even earn a personalized WTA work helmet!

Starbucks arrived for their annual work project on August 1st, and spent the 2nd working on the Wonderland Trail. We always welcome their energy and their donations of coffee!

Coming up, we'll be visited by volunteers from The Evergreen State College, the Sierra Club, and many others. Thanks again to everyone for your hard work and dedication!

SCA Receives the Director's Partnership Award

We're pleased to announce that the Student Conservation Association's Community Crew program, out of Seattle, has won the National Park Service Director's Partnership Award for 2014! The award will be formally presented soon at a time and venue yet to be determined. It recognizes 30 years of youth volunteerism, 20 of them at Mount Rainier National Park, and their recent initiative called "Base to Base Camp," which has engaged youth in military families from Joint Base Lewis-McCord and others.

More Radios Are a-Comin', Thanks to the Puget Sound Energy Foundation and WNPF

Partnerships are invaluable to Mount Rainier, and one of our most productive has been Washington's National Park Fund. When the Fund learned that we continue to suffer from a shortage of radios in our Meadow Rover program--tools that are critical to the safe and effective operation of our volunteers--they stepped up to find donors who would help fill the need. Now, thanks to the Puget Sound Energy Foundation, five new radios are on their way! THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this happen!

Transitions at the Longmire Campground

The Longmire Stewardship Campground remains an invaluable resource for volunteers and other park partners who need temporary camping and showers at Mount Rainier National Park. We say a fond farewell and a grateful thank you to Jim and Lorraine Cherry, who served in excellent form as our campground hosts through most of July before returning home to Indiana! We're also extremely thankful for Yonit and Leon Yogev, who filled in for a busy week at the end of July, and to Nancy Mortensen, who arrived August 1st to finish out the season. Nancy will be here through September, and will be available to receive campground reservations at Nancy_Mortensen (at) just as soon as her park e-mail is set up (hopefully in the next few days), or by telephone at 360-569-0933.


Our sincere condolences go to John Titland and his family on the recent passing of his wife Jane. John and Jane have been volunteers for many, many years at Mount Rainier, and are founding members of one of our most dedicated group of volunteers, the Mount Rainier National Park Associates. We will always be grateful for Jane's service, dedication, and friendship.

And more...

These are only a few of the many, many ways that volunteers serve at Mount Rainier National Park every day. In almost every program, volunteers serve alongside paid staff, helping us to protect our national park and serve its visitors better than we ever could without their help. In some cases, park programs and services would not exist without volunteers. You will almost certainly cross paths with a volunteer if you visit the park. Take time to say thank you!

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