Thursday, August 6, 2015

Volunteer Newsletter – August 2015

You’re invited to a picnic!

Before we get into the newsletter… this is just a reminder that the volunteer picnics are coming up very quickly at Mount Rainier, and you are invited!  This is the social semi-potluck to celebrate all of the hard work our volunteers put in throughout the year.  We will have two picnics, one on each side of the mountain.  The first will be on August 14th at the Longmire Community Building while the second is August 15th at the Sunrise Picnic Area.  Both events will start at 4:00pm and will go until 6:00pm, so come out and share some of your volunteer stories and a side dish or dessert with us!

Now, on with the newsletter:

July Highlights

The month of July was a hot one, yet we still had large numbers of volunteers coming through the entrance gates all over the park.  This just shows how dedicated all of our volunteers are!  Here is a recap of some of the projects that volunteers worked on throughout the month of July.

SCA Community Crew #1 – July 6th to July 20th
The first SCA community crew of the season came to Mount Rainier just after Independence Day this year, and spent half of their time in the park at the far end of the Westside Road at Klapatche Point.  Here they were doing some brushing and trail work on some of the backcountry trails in the area.  The remainder of their time was based out of the Longmire Stewardship Campground and traveling around the Longmire and Paradise areas, working on trails along the way.  Featuring two crew leaders from the Seattle area and 6 high school students (or recent graduates), the first community crew had an amazing experience while here at Mount Rainier.  The SCA has many opportunities for youth across the country, and even right here in the park!  For more information, visit .

REI Sumner working with the Washington Trails Association – July 10th
We were visited by the Logistics Team at the REI Distribution Center in Sumner early in the month, and they were excited to get out of the office and get their hands dirty.  They worked on a section of the Wonderland Trail heading towards Summerland in the northeastern corner of the park.  After clearing many of the drainages and making a few new ones along the trail, the crew then went on a hike led by Ranger Kevin around Sunrise and by the end of the day, their green REI Co-op t-shirts were filthy, sweaty, and covered in dust, but the group couldn’t have been any happier.  REI is a premier partner of the National Park Foundation’s “Find Your Park” campaign.  For more information, visit

Mount Rainier National Park Associates “Deveg” – July 11th
The brave volunteers of MRNPA answered a panicked call for help and began their assault on the alien species found around the new Carbon River Ranger Station in the Northwest corner of the park.  The day was spent pulling a variety of non-native species including stinky bob and foxglove destroying the alien invaders.  Are you interested in saving the world?  Then sign up for the next work party with the Mount Rainier National Park Associates at .

Washington’s National Park Fund – July 18th
Nine representatives from Washington’s National Park Fund joined us for a day of trail work in Paradise (literally) in mid-July.  Their project involved widening a portion of trail immediately behind the Jackson Visitor Center to its original width.  This work was crucial because this trail will be repaved later in the season, and the group was excited to help.  Following a hot day in the sun, the group retreated to their campground to clean up before going on a hike.  That night, some members of the group joined our astro-volunteers for a detailed view of the cosmos in a way they may have never seen before.  “The Fund” is the official nonprofit partner of Mount Rainier National Park, as well as North Cascades and Olympic National Parks.  For more information on how you can help with “The Fund” visit .

Citizen Science Projects throughout the Park – All Summer Long
Hundreds of volunteers spend their time in the park working on a variety of Citizen Science Projects offered throughout the 230,000+ acres of Mount Rainier National Park.  Some of these include MeadoWatch, which studies the wide range of stages of development for many subalpine flowers and where they are found on the mountain.  With this data gathered by many volunteers, scientists at the University of Washington will be able to compare it to previous years’ data to help determine the role of global climate change in the Mount Rainier area.  Other projects around the mountain include the Cascades Butterfly Project, the Amphibian Survey, and the Cascades Carnivore Survey (a survey that tracks some of the carnivores throughout the park through careful examination of their scat).  All of these projects will be continuing throughout the summer months.

RAVENS – Around Paradise All Summer Long
If you have had any issues with your car or maybe a fall on the trail in Paradise, chances are you have met one of our RAVENS (Roadside Assistance Volunteers).  Gary and Les have been working long hours all summer to provide the safest environment possible at Paradise, and if you see them around, feel free to thank them and even give them a high five!

Meadow Rovers – All Summer Long at Paradise and Sunrise
The Meadow Rovers have been out in full force this summer, as both Paradise and Sunrise have been swamped with visitors all summer long.  Recently, Maureen had the largest group of Rovers out on the trails she has ever had, and that was lucky, because on the same day there were seemingly countless tour busses and large groups all along the trails.  Sunrise has also been quite busy, having some of their highest amounts of visitors to date, and at both locations, some Rovers have been reporting over 500 contacts in one shift.  That is amazing everyone!  It seems as though the crowds will continue to grow as long as this beautiful weather sticks around, so keep up the amazing attitudes and know that you are always welcome to come and Meadow Rove, and even bring a friend if you’d like!  Lynn and Maureen have been having new Rover orientations all summer long, and don’t want to stop!

We also want to give a special shout out to Puget Sound Energy, whose donation through Washington’s National Park Fund allowed us to purchase additional radios for our volunteers to use this summer, enhancing their effectiveness and helping to keep both them and visitors safer on the trails!

Washington Trails Association – Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the Summer
The WTA has been working hard on a section of the Wonderland Trail in the northeastern corner of the park, leading to Summerland.  Every weekend, many volunteers come for a day or the entire weekend to work alongside the coordinators on projects to improve sections of the trails that have been washed out.  Much of the work has involved putting in new check steps and clearing drainages, and the trail looks beautiful now!  Additionally, the WTA has just completed their first Back Country Response Team trip to Emerald Ridge.  This small group of four volunteers spent five days in the backcountry, miles away from the Westside Road, and a two hour roundtrip walk away from the closest water source to begin work on a new section of the Wonderland Trail that was slowly falling over the edge of a cliff.  The WTA will continue work throughout the summer.  Do you want to get your hands dirty?  Then sign up for a single day, or a full weekend of trails work at .

And more…
These are just some of the volunteers working all over the park this summer. Interns are helping out in the visitor centers and surveying our streams and glaciers. Youth crews are repairing trails at Paradise and above Reflection Lake. Volunteer campground hosts assist visitors to our campgrounds, and other volunteers patrol backcountry trails and assist with park maintenance. If you come across our volunteers, or if you’re a volunteer yourself, send us your pictures and stories and we’ll publish them on our blog or Facebook page. Look for the volunteer patch wherever you go, and say thanks!

Looking Ahead to August

The weather is showing no signs of letting up anytime soon, which means there will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer throughout the month of August!  Here is a glimpse of some of the projects that will be going on all month and some of the groups coming in to join us.

Volunteer Picnics – August 14th and 15th, at Longmire and Sunrise, respectively
I think it is worth mentioning again that our volunteer picnics are just around the corner!  See the details at the top of this newsletter, and please join us!

Mount Rainier National Park Associates – August 15th
The MRNPA will be back in action on August 15th to help with the trail crew on a project around the Paradise area.  Following their day of hard work, they will be having their annual potluck in the Longmire Campground, and all participants in the work party that morning are invited.  Free camping will also be provided at the Longmire Stewardship Campground for anyone interested in joining for the night.  For more information, visit .

Back Country Crews Hard at Work – Throughout the Month
The second SCA Community Crew has been in the field for a week now, and their third Crew will be coming later in the month.  In addition to the SCA, the Washington Trails Association’s Back Country Response Team number two will be out in the field at the end of the month, so if you see any of these groups deep in the woods, make sure to thank them for their great work!

Washington Trails Association – Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the Summer
The WTA is a longstanding partner of Mount Rainier National Park, and every weekend they are having volunteer work parties that are designed to improve sections of trail that are commonly traveled.  For information on where their next work part is in the park and how YOU can join them, visit

Starbucks Trail Crew – August 8th
Over fifty members of the Starbucks crew will be coming this weekend and will be working alongside the trails crew at Paradise for the weekend. Follow the smell of coffee and sweat!

Shadows of the Past – August 22nd
The annual Shadows of the Past living history program will commence at dusk on the night of August 22nd. Join us at Longmire for a one-of-a-kind tour of the Trail of the Shadows by lantern light, and meet James and Virinda Longmire, John Muir, Fay Fuller, and many other real-life characters from Mount Rainier’s past!

REI – August 24th to 26th
Quite possibly the largest volunteer group ever to stay in the Longmire Stewardship Campground, over 150 people representing all of REI within 250 miles of the mountain will be here for three days of stewardship. Volunteers take note, if you need camping during these three days, we will be assigning you to overflow sites in the Cougar Rock Campground.

JVIPA (Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association) – August 22nd through September 5th  
Our international volunteers will be back again later this month, working on a wide array of projects throughout the park.  In recent history they have built many of the picnic tables you have eaten lunch on and worked on a section of the boardwalk at the Kautz Creek trail.  Make sure you say hello and konichiwa to this group of volunteers that keep coming back year after year!

Looking ahead to September
Mark your calendars! September will include a public revegetation day at Sunrise on September 12, and National Public Lands Day on September 26. Watch our volunteer blog and this newsletter for more details!

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