Tuesday, August 30, 2016

September 10 Reveg!

From John Titland:

Greetings, Alpine Gardeners and Trail Work Volunteers!

The annual Mount Rainier National Park Associates meadow revegetation work party will be Saturday, September 10th. That is the Saturday following the Labor Day weekend. MRNPA volunteers again will be assisting the Mount Rainier ecological restoration crew in planting wildflower seedlings, working to convert a historic campground area near Sunrise back into a sub-alpine meadow. I am told this will be the last year for reveg at Sunrise for some time. Next year the reveg work will begin again at Paradise.

On the morning of Saturday, September 10th, MRNPA volunteers will meet in the Sunrise parking lot between 8:30 and 9:00 AM. As you arrive at Sunrise, MRNPA volunteers will parked generally in the far left (south) corner of the parking lot. We will be the people who look like they know what is going on.  Please check in with me as soon as you arrive. I need to get a count and the names of all MRNPA volunteers. There will be volunteers from other organizations milling about so stick close with the MRNPA group and be ready to move out at 9:00 AM. Because MRNPA volunteers have been involved in planting at Sunrise for so many years, we are normally the first ones to head out to the work site. We normally work until at least 3 PM and will take a break for lunch at about at noon.

Be prepared for almost any fall weather. In the past we have experienced everything from warm and sunny days to a driving blizzard. In addition to your sun hat, sunscreen, and your rain gear, bring a lunch, plenty of fluids to drink, gardening gloves, and a hand digging tool you like to use. If you have no gardening tools, the NPS crew will provide small hand tools. Most of the day you will be working on your hands and knees to do the planting, so you should bring some kind of protection for your knees. The pads available at your local gardening retailer work for most people. The work site is about a mile hike from the Sunrise parking lot, so plan on carrying everything you need to and from the work site.

This is a great outing to share with your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend and even your kids. It is a beautiful location. It is also very instructive to see that much of the area has been replanted and is now slowly returning to being a meadow.

There is no charge for volunteers to enter the Park. When you enter at the White River Entrance, tell the gate attendant that you will be doing volunteer work on the meadow restoration project at Sunrise.  

If you plan to join the MRNPA volunteers on Saturday, September 10th, for this meadow revegetation work party, please reply to volunteer(at)mrnpa.org confirming that you are coming and indicating the number of volunteers that you will bringing with you.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Volunteers needed for the State Fair

Mount Rainier is in urgent need for people to staff our booth or snowshoe track for the following days and times:
Snowshoe track:
Friday the 2nd from noon to 3 PM
Saturday the 10th from 3 to 6 PM
Friday the 16th from noon to 3 PM
Friday the 16th from 3 to 6 PM
Saturday the 24th from 3 to 6 PM
Information Booth:
Saturday the 3rd from 1 to 5 PM
Sunday the 25th from 9 Am to 1 PM
If none of these work for you, you can check the following link and sign up (email Jim_Ross@nps.gov) for a shift that has only one person listed. We always prefer two people (except for evening shifts) but shifts with no one are of course high priority.
For those who have already signed up - thanks and your passes are in the mail.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

High Visitation Expected at Mount Rainier National Park During Centennial Weekend

Mount Rainier National Park News Release

Release Date: August 19, 2016
Contact: Kelsea Holbrook, 360-569-6510

With an extended forecast for sunny, summer weather, Mount Rainier National Park officials advise park visitors to anticipate high traffic volumes and full parking areas in the park for the National Park Service Centennial Weekend, August 25-28. This summer visitors to Mount Rainier National Park have experienced hour long waits at park entrance stations during mid-day peak travel times, particularly on weekends. With the nice weather and park entrance fees waived, the park expects a very busy Centennial Weekend.

In recognition of the National Park Service’s anniversary date of August 25, 1916, throughout the National Park Service entrance fees will be waived for the extended weekend dates of August 25 through August 28.

For visitors to Mount Rainier National Park on Thursday, August 25, the park invites visitors to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial with some special activities around the park at Longmire, Ohanapecosh, Paradise and Sunrise between9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

At Longmire, the park is celebrating the history of the park. At the historic gas station you can visit with the park’s curator while viewing some of the rarely seen items from the park’s museum collection. Every hour, beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 2:00 p.m., the park’s living history team will be presenting programs that feature stories about people from the park’s past. On the half hour, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and ending at 2:30 p.m., there will be walking tours of the Longmire Historic District led by the park’s historic architect and historic landscape architect.

At Ohanapecosh, the park is celebrating the next generation of park stewards with special Junior Ranger activities beginning every half hour from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. These programs will be followed by a National Park Service birthday celebration and Junior Ranger ceremony at the Ohanapecosh Amphitheater at 2:00 p.m. Kids can earn their Junior Ranger badge while learning about birds, bugs, animals, and more!

At Paradise, the park is celebrating the work that park rangers and park partners do to run the park. Visitors can roam the plaza outside the Jackson Visitor Center to learn about the work and the specialized equipment used to keep Mount Rainier National Park going. From tracking fox to rescuing climbers, there is no shortage of interesting work in national parks. Meet rangers between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., followed by a Centennial birthday celebration at 2:30 p.m. with speaker Randy King, Superintendent.

At Sunrise, the park is celebrating the science conducted in the park to learn about and protect park natural and cultural resources. Through activities, demonstrations and guided walks learn about the work archeologists, botanists, ecologists and geologists do in the park. Meet scientists between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., followed by a Centennial Birthday celebration in the Sunrise Picnic Area at 2:30 p.m. with speaker Tracy Swartout, Deputy Superintendent.

For those wishing to celebrate the anniversary with a service project, there will be volunteer projects at both Longmire and Paradise, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and lasting about four hours.  Meet at the Longmire Museum to volunteer for maintenance projects at the Longmire Stewardship Campground. To volunteer at Paradise, meet outside the Jackson Visitor Center at the staircase with the John Muir quote for a trail brushing project. Please bring water and snacks; tools and gloves will be provided.

Park information, announcements, and the Mount Rainier webcams are posted on the park’s official website, nps.gov/mora.
About the National Park Service- More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 412 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Litter Patrol Recruiting Now!

Put yourself in this picture by joining our small  but dedicated task force of litter pickers: the Mount Rainier Volunteers Adopt-a-Highway crew!

A lot of litter has accumulated over the summer as record numbers of visitors have been streaming into the Park. Our team goes out with long-armed grabbers and heavy plastic bags three times each year to patrol the two-mile section of SR 706, a stretch which includes the frontage of the Park's Tahoma Woods administrative facilities as well as the only good view of Mount Rainier along the highway. We want it to keep our "front step" clean for our visitors, so please consider joining us for our next pick-up on September 11. Crew size is limited to 12, so reserve your volunteer opportunity now! Please RSVP by September 6. For more information, contact Crow at petrina_vecchio@partner.nps.gov.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A big THANK YOU to Mount Rainier's awesome volunteers!

Sunrise Meadow Rover Picnic
Photo by Glenn Baldwin
Hello everyone! Ranger Kevin here with a story to share:

I spent last weekend (Friday and Saturday) out in the park, preparing and hosting the annual volunteer picnics; then hiked the Skyline Trail at Paradise with my family on Monday. As manager of Mount Rainier's volunteer program, my job has me in the office in front of a computer and telephone too much of the time, so I value these opportunities to actually get out in the field and see things happening. I encountered many volunteers on these three days, and want to take a moment to say how thoroughly impressed I am by the work you all are doing!

We're at peak season right now, and the park is overflowing with people. The pressures have never been greater, on our park and on the people who manage it. And yet, the volunteers I encountered invariably bore smiles and enthusiasm for their work.

At Longmire, I chatted with a campground host who was so excited about his job that he was already making plans to recruit students at his local college for volunteer work. At Sunrise, I found the parking lot so efficiently organized that it looked like the cars had been parked by a valet service, even in places where there were no painted lines marking the parking spaces, and two volunteers directing traffic in the hot sun. They were grateful for a cold diet soda from my cooler, but had no complaints about taking on duties that would tempt a paid employee to surliness, and dozens of visitors benefited from their efforts, whether they were aware of it or not. At Paradise, my family and I encountered several Meadow Rovers as we made the loop of the Skyline Trail, all of whom greeted us and the other visitors around us with big smiles and helpful information, in spite of all the other visitors they were dealing with who ignored the "stay on trails" signs to cross fragile meadows in search of snow or better wildflower pictures.

This weekend was not unique. Last week I served as the Public Information Officer for a search and rescue effort in the park, and took reports of Mountain Rescue volunteers who responded on short notice from Olympia, Seattle, and Everett to help with the (ultimately successful) search. I received a copy of a comment form filled out by a visitor who was grateful for the help provided by our Emergency Roadside Assistance volunteers. Another note expressed gratitude for the help provided by volunteers to an injured hiker on the Silver Forest Trail at Sunrise. A trail maintenance volunteer passed on to me how frequently passing visitors thanked her group for the work they were doing to keep the trails in good condition.

And these are only the higher profile ways that volunteers help out, the ones that generate visitor comments and feedback. Other volunteers work behind the scenes, less obvious but no less important in their contributions to the National Park Service: surveying plants and animals, curating the park's historical artifacts, removing invasive species, repairing erosion damage from winter floods, maintaining campgrounds and campsites, and dozens of other tasks that ensure that Mount Rainier remains as pristine as possible for future generations as well as our own.

When visitors' cars line up for more than a mile at the park's entrance station, and it seems like you've asked the 50th person in the past hour to stop trampling the meadows, it can be difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. And yet, imagine what the park would be like without the help of our volunteers! The meadows would have little protection from well-meaning visitors who don't understand how sensitive they are to being trampled, and would go unrepaired by overworked revegetation crews. The trails would deteriorate faster than our paid crews could keep up with repairing them. Parking at Sunrise would be haphazard and dozens of families would not be able to find anywhere to park. Lost hikers would take critically long to find. Park managers would lack important data on the abundance and distribution of park species. Campers would have no one to talk to when they needed assistance in the middle of the night, and visitors who locked their keys in their cars or ran out of gas would go hours before patrol rangers could respond.

And on and on. No matter how busy the park seems, and how much there remains to do, we couldn't possibly keep the park looking as good as it does, nor assist our visitors as well as we do, without our volunteers. Volunteers make a difference!

And so, I want to recognize each and every one of you who makes some part of our mission your own, to preserve and protect Mount Rainier for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Whether you come up only once for a few hours, or return day after day for years on end, every one of you makes a difference. I, and my family hiking the trails with me, and my grandchildren and great grandchildren yet to come, are all grateful.

Thank you.

Kevin Bacher
Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager
Mount Rainier National Park

Call for help at the State Fair

We still need lots of help, especially on the weekends!

I know, many of you work or volunteer on the weekends but if you are not otherwise tied up, consider helping out.

Check out the following link to see what time slots are available. Time slots highlighted in yellow for the Information Booth are shifts we have the greatest need. I didn't mark the time slots of greatest need for the Snowshoe Track since we need someone for every shift! 

Remember this link is a view only site. You may not sign up at this link.

Informational Booth shifts are:   
Mon, Wed-Fri:  first shift 10:00-1:30, second shift 1:30-5:00, third shift 5:00-8:30.
Sat-Sun:  first shift 9:00-1:00, second shift 1:00-5:00, third shift 5:00-9:00.
Snowshoe Track shifts are:   
Fri-Sun:  first shift Noon-3:00, second shift 3:00-6:00
How to sign up: 
Send me an email (Jim_Ross@nps.gov) and include the following things:
1. Which activity you would like to work
2. The date(s)
3. The time shift(s)
4. Your current mailing address (so I can mail instructions, maps, and tickets) 

You may sign up for multiple dates, times, and activities.
Doesn't this look like fun? Last year we talked with nearly 3000 kids and parents at the snowshoe track. Fortunately we didn't put snowshoes on every one of those people. 

Thanks, and we’ll see you at the fair!

Nisqually to Paradise, Aug. 18-25

Click to enlarge

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cascade Butterfly Project at Mount Rainier

Mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and butterflies are bellwether species, moving north in latitude or up in elevation as temperatures warm. As part of the Cascades Butterfly Project, you can help track changes in butterfly species distribution and relative density. Just grab a butterfly net and join a three-person team on a designated one-kilometer south-to-north route through an alpine meadow. Each of the 10 routes is monitored weekly during the summer, and both long-term and one-time volunteers are welcome. Even if you can’t make one of the survey days, you can still help: Upload your butterfly pics, along with location info, to the photo inventory project.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Volunteer on the Centennial - August 25th

Join us on August 25th at 9am for volunteer projects to celebrate the 100th year of the National Park Service. There will be celebrations at all of our visitor centers throughout the day, which means plenty of time to get in some hours of service and to soak in the celebration.

Project details:
Meet at 9:00am at the Longmire Museum for campground maintenance projects.
Meet at 9:00am outside the Jackson Visitor Center at the Muir staircase for a trail brushing project.

Please RSVP to Mark_Loper@partner.nps.gov for more details or if you plan to attend. We will accept walkup volunteers but would like to have an idea of numbers for these volunteer projects.

Possible hot weather and decreased air quality later this week

Click to enlarge
From our partners at the National Weather Service. Be careful out there, volunteers!

A Period of Hot Weather and Possible Decreased Air Quality
 Appears Increasingly Likely For Thursday through Saturday

This message is intended as an informational briefing for public safety decision makers. We ask that you continue to monitor latest information using the resources listed below. You are welcome to share this message with others in your organization. Please do not respond to this email. If you need to contact the office, please use the links and information below.

A period of hot weather is becoming increasingly likely Thursday through Saturday in Western Washington. Record high temperatures are possible in Seattle on all three days, and temperatures at night will only cool into the 60s.  There is the potential that maximum temperatures will be higher than currently forecast across the region. 

None at this time.

Offshore flow will strengthen on Thursday as high pressure develops over British Columbia. Air compressing as it comes down off of the Cascades and Olympics will gradually heat the air mass up starting early Thursday and continuing through early in the weekend. Temperatures on the coast and away from the water will likely peak on Thursday, while temperatures in the interior lowlands will likely peak on Friday. Temperatures in the interior on Saturday will likely only cool a couple of degrees from Friday's hot values.  Hot temperatures on Thursday will be accompanied by low relative humidity and breezy conditions -contributing to increased fire danger. Air quality may degrade somewhat on Friday and Saturday as a thermal trough moves into the interior lowlands and reduces circulation.

                      Seattle                  Bellingham            Olympia
Day             Hi/Lo/Rec/Yr         Hi/Lo/Rec/Yr       Hi/Lo/Rec/Yr

Thu 8/18      88/60/88/1991        87/56/86/1965     90/54/94/1981 
Fri   8/19      91/62/89/2015        86/58/84/1950     93/56/94/1961
Sat 8/20       89/63/87/1966        81/59/83/1958     88/56/92/1982

A prolonged period of warm to hot weather across the region will mainly impact people in urban areas who are in poor health. People living in high rise buildings without air conditioning will be most impacted.  Any fires that start on Thursday could grow rapidly in the hot, dry and breezy conditions.   A decrease in air quality Friday and Saturday could affect unhealthy individuals. At this time, impacts are expected to be moderate.

Confidence is high that a period of hot weather will develop on Thursday and will persist into Friday. Confidence is moderate that hot temperatures will persist in the interior into Saturday.

Confidence is moderate that the combination of hot temperatures, low relative humidity, and breezy conditions could contribute to a high fire danger across much of Western Washington.

Confidence is moderate that air quality will degrade somewhat starting on Friday and perhaps persist or worsen Saturday or Sunday.

iNWS: Smart phone app for the emergency management community to monitor the latest forecasts, warning information and conditions - register at http://inws.wrh.noaa.gov

Thank you,
National Weather Service, Seattle WA

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Volunteers Needed!

Volunteers are needed to help with the creation of willow wattle fences. Volunteers can learn about the construction process and local ecology of Tahoma Creek. Volunteers would take part in helping the park re-open a portion of the Westside road. Because part of the design involves live trees, volunteers can watch soil stabilization happen over time.
 I am looking for 10 volunteers on each of the following days: August 26, 27, 29, 30, 31/ September 7,8,9.   to work with me on constructing willow wattle fences. This is a great opportunity to volunteer with a group of friends or to meet some new people!

The project would include the following tasks:
- Shoveling soil
- Using tools to cut down young willow and alder branches, to be used for live staking.
- Using rock bars to move rocks, for site preparation.
- Moving soil via wheelbarrow
- Hammering live stakes into the creek bed

A day would span from 8 am to 5 pm, but promises to be invigorating! Volunteers would need to bring their own lunch and their own water. 
If you are willing to participate or have questions please contact Jeni Chan at jennifer_chan@partner.nps.gov
Thank you!
Jeni Chan 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thank You Sunrise Meadow Rovers

A Note for the Sunrise Meadow Rovers from Lynn Kittridge
As my month as the Sunrise Meadow Rover Coordinator concludes and Jodie Hollinger-Lant takes over, I have just two things to say:
First: THANK YOU-- for your time, effort, commitment, positive attitudes, smiles and the thousands of wonderful visitor contacts so far this summer.  I miss you already—but know you are in good hands with Jodie.
Second: your dedication is reflected in the numbers.  In July,  57 volunteers gave 1,242.5 hours of your time and made 23,356 visitor contacts.  Compared to July 2015, the number of volunteers increased 19%, the number of hours increased 40% and the number of contacts increased an amazing 69%!
Besides the mountain itself, you are what makes Sunrise the wonderful place it is!  Keep it up!  I hope to see you on the trails again soon.
Sunrise Meadow Rovers Rock!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Citizen Science - Volunteer Amphibian Survey

Last weekend I was lucky enough to volunteer with our citizen science team to do an amphibian survey at Three Lakes. We backpacked in with great weather and the calming views of our old growth forest. On our way in, there was discussion about the Western Toad which was the main reason for our adventure. The crew was in search of toad breeding grounds and evidence of the toad around the Three Lakes area. The Western Toad has not been doing well at the park and locating breeding grounds would be important for our scientists – to ensure toad tadpoles are able to become toads. After our six mile trek with our heavy packs, we started the survey at a wetland not too far from the Three Lakes cabin we stayed at for two nights. As luck would have it, there were toad tadpoles aplenty! It was delightful to come across this fortune of toad tadpoles so quickly on our trip. We immediately went to work – catching, measuring and documenting these tadpoles.
As day two began, our spirits were high after the find of the first day - questions lingered -  could we find toad toddlers or even a large adult toad? The first few spots we looked at had many Cascade Frogs but no signs of the toad.  We arrived at small lake glanced around and announced that the location did not look “toad-y”. We walked over to the lake and began the survey. Almost right away, a young toad was found, then another and another. These one year old toads were keeping us busy – weighing, measuring and photographing them. Then we found an adult male toad, which put the others to shame. He was big, calm and very fun to photograph. As our time went on at this site, we found another adult toad and even caught a garter snake. The trip was a success and it felt it had only begun. However, as we moved on there were only a few more toads to be found. The weather cooperated and as our team of four sat down for dinner we reminisced of how successful the trip had been.

With a much quicker hike out on day three, the trip was over. The citizen science team and new brave volunteers are at Mystic Lake this weekend, again in search of the Western Toad.
Our citizen science program provides great opportunities for volunteers of all ages. Projects range from short one day lake surveys to backpacking surveys like the one described above. For more information do not hesitate to contact me.
Mark Loper

***All photos taken by volunteer Mark Kenny

Friday, August 12, 2016

Nisqually to Paradise, August 11-18

Click to enlarge

Catch Big Red to the Washington State Fair!

Celebrating the NPS Centennial the park's Big Red will be featured in the Northwest Outdoors Building at the 2016 State Fair in Puyallup
The 2016 Washington State Fair is fast approaching. This year the fair runs from September 2nd through September 25thYes, it starts Labor Day Weekend and will be 4 days longer (the Fair will be closed on Tuesdays). Last year park staff and volunteers talked to over 14,000 people and thousands more checked out our exhibits. With the Red Bus right in front of the Mount Rainier Informational Booth we will have the opportunity to share our love of the park with even more people. However, with the extra days and extra emphasis of the NPS Centennial, we will need a lot more help from staff and volunteers.    
The Red Bus, our exhibits, and the snow shoe track will be great.  But more important is the presence of a real live person representing the park service and talking with all those enthusiastic fair goers. 
We need lots of help!
 We have two opportunities for you to help out

#1. Staffing the Mount Rainier Informational Booth:   
Mon, Wed-Fri:  first shift 10:00-1:30, second shift 1:30-5:00, third shift 5:00-8:30.
Sat-Sun:  first shift 9:00-1:00, second shift 1:00-5:00, third shift 5:00-9:00.

Details:  We would like to have two park people for each of the three  3 1/2 or 4-hour shifts a day.  Opening time on Saturday and Sundayis one hour earlier which necessitates 4-hour shifts on Sat-Sun.  But those are the busiest days so you won't even notice the extra 1/2-hour. At the Information booth you answer questions about the park and the park service.  Some resources will be available to help you with answers. You will also be helping with the hands-on activities in the booth and keeping an eye on the Big Red. 
#2. Staff the Snowshoe Walk:   
Fri-Sun:  first shift Noon-3:00, second shift 3:00-6:00

Details: On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 6 PM the NW Outdoors Building and Mount Rainier National Park will be providing a snowshoe experience (mainly for kids, but adults can try too).  The trail of straw will be an L-shaped loop about 30 yards long and will wander around and through a native plant display.  There will be two 3-hr shifts each day and we need at least two people each shift.  It will be a busy, but quick, three hours.  

.How to sign up: Send me an email (jim_ross@nps.gov) and include the following things:
1. Which activity you would like to work
2. The date(s)
3. The time shift(s)
4. Your current mailing address (so I can mail instructions, maps, and tickets) 
You may sign up for multiple dates, times, and activities.

Available time slots: If you go the the link below, you can see which time slots have already been scheduled. You may NOT sign up at this link. It is informational only. To sign up please send me an email.

All Participants:  Once you are scheduled in a time slot you will receive a letter with instructions, maps and tickets for admission to the fair and a parking pass (one day parking and admission worth $25). You can experience the fair before and/or after your shift.

Volunteers: If you have a uniform and/or a VIP hat please wear it. VIP hats will be available at the information booth. 

Check out the available day and time slots: If you go to the link below, you can see which time slots have already been scheduled.  You may not sign up at this link.
Thanks, and we’ll see you at the fair!

Jim Ross