Thursday, March 19, 2015

George B. Hartzog Jr. Award Nominees: Jim and Carol Miltimore

Mount Rainier National Park is pleased to announce the nomination of Jim and Carol Miltimore for the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

Brief Summary of Exceptional Accomplishments: Compiling a “brief” summary of Jim and Carol Miltimore’s exceptional accomplishments is nearly impossible. Here are some of the most significant projects they’ve contributed to, since beginning as volunteers in August of 2005, accumulating 30,125 hours of service (and counting) between them in just ten years:

NPS photo/Crow Vecchio
Amphibian Surveys, collecting and documenting amphibians in wilderness wetlands throughout the park.
Archeological Surveys, documenting human presence going back 9,500 years, and organizing records.
Curatorial Collection, cataloguing tens of thousands of photographs and documents, and helping to conserve the park’s specimen collection.
Geological Surveys, assisting researchers to collect data about the park’s glaciers and rivers, and helping to enter scientific data during the winter.
Invasive Plant Removal, identifying and removing exotic plans along park roads.
Meadow Roving, educating visitors about the importance of staying on trails in our fragile subalpine meadows.
Nordic Patrol, patrolling wilderness areas for visitor safety on skis and snowshoes during the winter.
Revegetation, assisting park crews to plant native plants in areas being restored; and also collecting seeds and helping to propagate them in the park’s greenhouse.
Roadside Cleanup, collecting litter along a stretch of adopted highway near Park Headquarters.
Search and Rescue, assisting with several events, including heroic actions to protect park staff and visitors during the fatal shooting of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson.
Trail Construction, repairing and maintaining trails all over the park, and helping to rebuild a trail wiped out by flooding.
Wilderness Cleanup, removing deteriorating cables and wires from backcountry locations.
Wilderness Patrol, conducting inventory, monitoring, and maintenance of backcountry trails and campsites.

Magnitude of Work: What was the extent of the work accomplished? What made the work, project, contribution, or program exceptional? Was the program well-managed and efficient? In what ways did the nominee demonstrate creativity or originality?

Here are a few notable examples:

Amphibian Surveys: In 2008, the park initiated a “citizen science” program, recruiting community volunteers to help gather important data on amphibian populations, ephemeral wetlands, and human-caused sound intrusions throughout the park. Jim and Carol were two of the first to sign up, and have participated annually, capturing amphibians in hip waders and mosquito netting miles from park roads and trails. With their help, the program has documented amphibian breeding in an average of 50 sites per year.

Archeological Surveys: Jim and Carol have sifted through layers upon layers of sediment at several research sites in the park, helping to collect evidence of human occupation going back 9,500 years. During the winter, they’ve turned that hard work and attention to detail to our archeological records, helping to organize records from a backlog of more than 200 sites.

Curatorial Collection: Jim and Carol have worked for eight years now in the park’s curatorial collection. With their help, we have been able to catalogue more than 35,000 photographs and 20,000 archival documents per year, many times our capacity in a typical year without their help.

Search and Rescue: Mount Rainier hosts more than a million and a half visitors per year in an environment that can be harsh and dangerous at times. Jim and Carol have helped with innumerable Search and Rescue missions, both as members of the park’s wilderness patrol staff in summer and as members of the Nordic Patrol in winter. Most notably, on New Year’s Day 2012, when a gunman fired on two park rangers half a mile below the busy Paradise Visitor Center, killing ranger Margaret Anderson, and then escaped into the forest, Jim and Carol helped round up more than a hundred visitors and staff to take shelter, in spite of the obvious risks of doing so out in the open with the gunman still at large.

Trail Construction: After major floods in November of 2006 destroyed roads, trails, and campgrounds throughout Mount Rainier National Park, Jim and Carol pitched in to help rebuild, and helped reconstruct the Glacier Basin Trail along with volunteers from the Washington Trails Association and Mount Rainier National Park Associates. They continue to work almost every weekend during the summer months, on projects throughout the park, and have become mentors and leaders for new volunteers.

Wilderness Patrol: Jim and Carol’s primary duty during the summer months is to conduct patrols of Mount Rainier’s extensive trail system. They are responsible for inventory, monitoring, and maintenance of backcountry campsites and toilets. Several years ago, Jim discovered that old wires buried in the wilderness above Sunrise contained lead, and needed to be removed to protect that environment. He and Carol spent several summers working to remove thousands of feet of wires and cables.

These are just a few of the projects Jim and Carol have worked on. They are deeply embedded in the park’s programs, and when something needs to get done, they invariably step forward to help. They serve on the park’s safety committee and assist with staff training. Between the two of them, Jim and Carol have contributed 30,125 hours of service to Mount Rainier National Park over the past ten years, which works out to more than 1500 hours apiece, on average, every year. There is virtually no volunteer project at Mount Rainier to which the Miltimores have not made a significant and substantial contribution.

Meeting the Mission: How has the volunteer, group, or program improved conditions for the park facilities or
operations, resources and/or visitors? How did the nominee support the NPS mission?

The details described above in the “Magnitude of Work” section should explain, more than adequately, the degree to which the Miltimores’ tireless efforts have improved facilities and operations, aided visitors, and expanded our understanding of park resources. Recapping a few of the more notable examples:

Improving Facilities: See the Miltimores’ work to repair, maintain, and rebuild park trails, which included major contributions toward rebuilding and reopening the Glacier Basin Trail after it was wiped out by flooding in 2006. See also their work as wilderness patrol rangers, and their ongoing work in the park’s curatorial collections.

Natural and Cultural Resources: See the Miltimores’ work on park archaeological crews, and their assistance with citizen science programs surveying amphibians, wildflowers, glaciers, and stream aggradation, all of which have greatly enhanced our understanding of the effects of climate change at Mount Rainier.

Visitor Services: See the Miltimores’ work with wilderness and meadow patrol, but also, and especially notably, their assistance with Nordic Patrol and Search and Rescue, including their heroic efforts during the January 2012 shooting of Ranger Margaret Anderson.

Jim and Carol Miltimore have dedicated themselves to the mission of the National Park Service more completely than anyone else I know. They have made it their life’s work, and do so tirelessly and without expectation of compensation or reward. They are an inspiration to everyone on our staff.

Challenges: Describe any challenges the nominee may have faced.

As is the case everywhere, Mount Rainier National Park has too much to do and too few resources with which to do it. The maintenance backlog grows ever larger, and budgets grow ever smaller. Meanwhile, staff is constantly changing, with new supervisors, new initiatives, and new priorities every year. It is a measure of the Miltimores’ enduring dedication that they have continued to find new ways to remain a critical part of the park’s programs, even as the names, faces, and priorities have changed.

Of course, each of the projects Jim and Carol have taken on have involved challenges of their own. Over the year, they have become experts at trail construction, and now often take the lead in trail repair projects. The wilderness cleanup project, which resulted in the removal of hundreds of feet of abandoned cable from park wilderness areas, was their own idea and implementation. Their contributions during Search and Rescue events have involved enormous challenges, overcome by courageous leadership.

Partnerships: How did the project or program build partnerships or boost public interest? Please explain.

Much of the volunteer work that happens at Mount Rainier National Park happens in partnership with community groups. Jim and Carol Miltimore have worked with, or as part of, many of these groups as they have conducted their volunteer work at Mount Rainier. Examples include the following:

Mount Rainier National Park Associates: MRNPA recruits volunteers and leads projects at Mount Rainier once a month from April or May through September or October. Jim and Carol participate in almost all of their projects, maintaining trails, planting native plants, and removing invasive species.

Student Conservation Association: SCA led the flood recovery effort following massive floods in November 2006. Jim and Carol worked with SCA crew leaders to rebuild the Glacier Basin Trail and sections of the Wonderland Trail, among other projects. They also work under SCA leadership to conduct amphibian surveys.

University of Washington: Researchers at UW initiated a Citizen Science project in 2013 to survey flowering plants and the date and location of their bloom. The Miltimores have completed the training and participated in this program, adding to our understanding of the effects of climate change at Mount Rainier.

Washington Ski Touring Club: WSTC leads the Nordic Patrol efforts at Mount Rainier, and Jim and Carol have served notably as members of their group, assisting with weekly operations during the winter and with several major search and rescue events.

Washington Trails Association: WTA is a major partner in recruiting and leading public volunteers on trail work throughout the park. Jim and Carol participate almost every weekend during the summer with these projects, and have earned leadership roles within the organization.

Washington’s National Park Fund: WNPF works tirelessly to promote Mount Rainier National Park and its needs, and to raise funds to support them. Jim and Carol Miltimore have volunteered their time to contribute to several promotional videos produced by WNPF, beginning with flood recovery efforts in 2007 and continuing most recently with a film currently in development for release this spring.

No comments: