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North Cascades Opportunities for Support

Washington's National Park Fund is actively seeking charitable contributions to help make projects possible in the following areas.  These projects come to us from park leadership and are assembled in priority order.  With enough funding, ALL projects will be funded at the end of 2014.  Please show your support


1.     State of the Stephen Mather Wilderness Report – $15,000

Established in 1988, the Stephen Mather Wilderness encompasses nearly 94% of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.  For the past 25 years, stewardship of the area has been primarily guided by the 1989 Wilderness Management Plan.  This plan is substantially outdated and needs to be revised to respond to a wide variety of issues and threats. 

Before the Wilderness Stewardship Plan can be updated, a large body of existing information needs to be compiled and evaluated to inform the planning process. The purpose of this project is to lay the foundation for a new Wilderness Stewardship Plan by preparing a “State of the Stephen Mather Wilderness Report” for North Cascades National Park Complex.

The report would be developed by compiling, analyzing and presenting a wide body of wilderness-related monitoring data and supporting information that have been collected over the years by NPS staffs.  The report would be prepared in a compelling and visually-pleasing format for distribution to a wide variety of stakeholders, including the general public, NGOs, other state and federal agencies, and congress.  The overarching goal of the Report would be to educate and inspire the public as to current issues, threats and opportunities for protecting the Stephen Mather Wilderness and ensuring public enjoyment of the area.  In so doing, it will pave the way for initiating public scoping on a new Wilderness Stewardship Plan.


2.  Restoring Fishers at North Cascades National Park (a joint project with Mount Rainier National Park) – $20,000

The goal of this project is to restore self-sustaining populations of fishers in the northern and southern Cascades (including North Cascades National Park and Mount Rainier National Park), two of the three locations identified in the Washington State Recovery Plan for Fishers. Specific objectives include:

·        Relocate 160 fishers (40 each year for two years for each site) from British Columbia to the North Cascades and Southern Cascades

·        Monitor released fishers to assess success of this restoration project and to learn about fisher biology and ecology in the Cascades

·        Refine fisher habitat use models to include data from released fishers in the Cascades

Project success is defined as a self-sustaining population of fisher in a geographic distribution that allows for their persistence in Washington, including the North Cascades and Mount Rainier, into the foreseeable future (>100 years).  Given the success of Olympic National Park’s fisher reintroduction, park staff expect to successfully reintroduce fisher to the two parks with future expansion into adjacent lands.  Furthermore, by monitoring the effectiveness of the reintroduction, they will greatly increase their knowledge of habitat use by fisher and use this information to better insure the long term survival of the species in Washington State.


3.  Repairing Trail Damage and Protecting Resources:  Sahale Arm Trail – $22,000 (year two)

The Sahale Arm Trail is a 2.2 mile trail that traverses through high elevation meadows between Cascade Pass and the Sahale Glacier Camp, the highest designated camp in the park at an elevation of 7,686 feet.  Easy access (via the Cascade River Road and the Cascade Pass Trail), and stunning views make this the most popular alpine trail in the park. 

Currently the trail is in very poor condition.  Thousands of feet of steep, muddy rock filled guts are contributing to resource damage, threatening visitor safety, and detracting from the visitor’s experience.  Slick, gutted, rocky trail poses a threat to hiker safety and may prevent some hikers from venturing higher on Sahale Arm, where the views continue to become more dramatic.  Poor trail conditions, braided trails and poor trail tread contribute to increased erosion and damage to native plant communities, which also diminishes the visitor’s experience. 

Funding from Washington’s National Park Fund will be used to support trails staff as they repair damaged trail segments, add additional drainage devices to prevent further trail damage, and re-vegetate bare ground and abandoned trail segments.  The working season (August through September) is very short, environmental conditions can be very harsh, and the work requires both technical skills and sensitivity to the environment and visitor.  Because of these factors, bringing the Sahale Arm Trail up to park standards will take four seasons. 

Funds from Washington’s National Park Fund have been awarded for the 2014 season; the repairs are significant.  As such, this remains as a high priority.


4.  Providing an intern who will support subalpine Restoration at Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm Trail – $13,000

This program will provide funds to support a youth intern for six months at North Cascades National Park.  The intern will primarily work on completing subalpine restoration at Cascade Pass and the Sahale arm trail reroute.  The intern will help to mitigate human impacts in subalpine habitats at Cascade Pass and along the Sahale arm trail.  This project will augment existing restoration work and involve the collection of seed and vegetative plant materials on site for subsequent propagation of 1000 plants at the greenhouse.

With support of the park horticulturalist, the intern will also work in conjunction with the trails crew throughout the process of completing a reroute of the Sahale arm trail to minimize impacts and, wherever possible, to salvage native plants for replanting after construction of the trail reroute is complete.   The intern will also support use of volunteer groups and youth program participants in the completion of vegetation projects at Cascade Pass.   Staff supported by this project will provide guidance and support for completion of the project.  This will involve teaching and assisting the intern with plant salvage and storage; teaching techniques for collecting and propagating seed and vegetative plant materials; and teaching plant identification skills.  Staff will also assist in the propagation of collected materials and will maintain the plants until they are ready for out-planting.


5. Supporting North Cascades National Park’s Youth Staffing – $15,000

Cuts in spending have tightened workloads for all park staff.  They are relying on programs like Student Conservation Corps, area tribal youth, and others to assist with important positions while, at the same time, giving meaningful opportunities to young people. 

This program will support park staff who work with youth and volunteers on a variety of service projects. Funding will pay for two entry level seasonal employees who will each work for three months at North Cascades National Park leading volunteers and youth in projects including research, ecological restoration, education, construction, trail and facility maintenance and administration of the volunteer and youth programs.  The employees and youth crew leaders will be selected from the growing team of gifted diverse youth who have been involved in one or more North Cascades National Park or NPS partner youth programs.


6.  Remove Transportation Barriers for Youth coming to North Cascades National Park – $12,000

This project will provide funding to pay for the transportation of at least 400 youth to North Cascades National Park and for transportation of youth groups, interns, students and young volunteers within the park.  Funds will be used to pay busing costs for school groups, ferry costs to bring volunteers to the remote town of Stehekin, and vehicles that will be used to transport youth groups and volunteers to and from worksites.

North Cascades National Park has been dedicated to developing the next generation of public land stewards and NPS employees for years by deliberately connecting existing youth programs and partnerships to a continuum of meaningful park-based experiences…essentially, a pathway for youth to a lifetime of advocacy and stewardship. In this work, park staff focus on providing opportunities for youth from traditionally underserved communities by working with partners who are members of these communities. 

Transportation costs often create an insurmountable barrier to underserved communities.  This project will remove this barrier at a critical time in the development of park Youth programs.


7.  Colonial Creek Amphitheater Upgrade – $32,000

This project will upgrade the outdoor amphitheater at Colonial Creek Campground to comply with the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) by adding dispersed and integrated seating for wheelchair access as well as companion seating to align with the wheelchair. It will also add signage at the entrance to the amphitheater and provide the hearing impaired with assisted listening devices.  Colonial Creek Amphitheater has recently undergone an ABA condition audit and the shortcomings revealed the need for improved visitor services for the physically impaired as well as the hearing impaired.


8. Support Youth Outreach Ranger – $18,000

North Cascades National Park is seeking funding for a Youth Outreach Interpretation Ranger position in order to better serve Boys Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD) and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (GOLD) participants and other youth groups in North Cascades National Park. This proposal will fund an Interpretation Ranger for five months.  This will enable the park to meet youth groups in the field to teach about the natural and cultural history and the mission of the National Park Service. 

The requested $18,000 will provide the park with a ranger to develop curriculum and to meet youth groups when they are in the wilderness.  Funding will enable Ranger field visits to more than 200 BOLD/Gold participants and more than 200 Boy Scouts, North Cascades Institute youth, Urban Wilderness Works youth and Student Conservation Association crews during their to visit North Cascades National Park.


9.  Ross Lake Water Quality Monitoring – $10,000

Assessment of Ross Lake’s ecological condition, through routine water quality monitoring, is essential to manage a unique endemic fish community, support a renowned recreational rainbow trout fishery and provide for diverse water related visitor uses. Support from Washington’s National Park Fund will be combined with support from the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission enabling North Cascades National Park to continue monitoring activities on Ross Lake that were established in 2009. This project will use existing park staff and will recruit a diverse college or high school student interested in being mentored as a developing scientist. Staff will also continue to work with volunteers and collaborate with the Student Conservation Association, Western Washington University, North Cascades Institute, Seattle City Light and North Cascades National Park’s Pathways for Youth Program to provide opportunities for citizen based science, education and communication.

Data collected for this project will be used to 1) characterize Ross Lake’s inter-annual and seasonal variation in key chemical, physical, and biological water quality parameters and determine the status and trends in these parameters with known confidence intervals; 2) assess year-round continuous water temperatures; 3) develop criteria for assessing the ecological condition of Ross Lake and determine if present conditions are supporting ecological and human needs; and 4) develop management actions to mitigate the impacts of human activities, climate change and hydropower operations on Ross Lake’s aquatic communities.


10.  Development of North Cascades National Park’s Student Plant Propagation Partnership – $12,000

This program will provide funds to support park staff and provide equipment to facilitate plant propagation for re-vegetation projects throughout the park.  It will also provide an opportunity for the plant propagation program to develop a partnership with the Concrete Elementary School. This educational partnership will both strengthen the community involvement and the plant propagation program central to the protection of park resources. 

North Cascades National Park has traditionally had low visitation from local children. This program will allow park staff to teach Concrete school children about the importance of native plant communities and re-vegetation through hands on work with plants, seeding and vegetation propagation. 

Staff supported by this project will work with teachers at Concrete Elementary School to develop a program teaching students to propagate native plants in the fall and spring.  This can be done either at the Marblemount Nursery or at the school, which will help make the program more accessible and affordable for the school. 

Initially the project will pay for installation of an outdoor misting system to be used for propagation of vegetative plant materials. Specifically, the misting system will aid the propagation of mountain heather species that are among the most fragile of our vegetative resources.  It will also provide wages for the Park Horticulturalist and Volunteer Coordinator to develop the program.  North Cascades National Park will provide matching funds in the form of eight weeks of work for a Biological Science Technician to help implement the program.


11. Repair Wooden Picnic Tables – $15,650

This project will provide for the repair of approximately 25 wooden picnic tables in the Stehekin campgrounds and picnic areas.  These picnic tables are constructed of cedar and are believed to have been “inherited” when North Cascades National Park was created in 1968.  The tables have held up well considering the harsh outdoor environment in which they are located, but today, they are in need of repairs to extend their life for another 45+ years. The legs were repaired or replaced by volunteers in 2013.  To complete the process, the table seats and tops need to be repaired or replaced. In addition to needed repairs, park staff will modify several tables to be ADA compliant with the goal to have at least one ADA compliant picnic table available at each site.