Olympic Opportunities for Support
Washington's National Park Fund is actively seeking charitable contributions to help make projects possible in the following areas:
1. Olympic Marmot Citizen Science Monitoring Project, $5,500
Since 2010, Washington’s National Park Fund has funded this program, and allowed Olympic National Park to monitor the fate of the Olympic marmot population with the help of citizen scientists. Each year, 90-100 volunteer scientists have a day-long training, and then embark on a three to seven day long data-collecting hike in their assigned area of the park. The success of this program has spread and the US Forest Service now helps monitor the entire species range! However, since 90% of the population lives within the park, this citizen science based monitoring remains a vital part of the research process. Since more than 65% of the volunteers choose to come back for a second year, this project is vital to both the marmots, as well as the park’s volunteer program. For more information, Olympic National Park’s marmot website can be found here.
2. Monitoring Elk Populations in Washington’s Parks, $31,000
Past funding from Washington’s National Park Fund has allowed the foundation for this project to be established by GPS radio collaring for elk. These collars allowed the park to better understand the elk movement patterns. With that knowledge, the park is now able to do aerial surveys to monitor population trends in the Roosevelt elk. These elk are important drivers of ecosystem change, and long-term monitoring of both subalpine vegetation and elk populations will help the park to better protect and understand this majestic creature.
3. Pathways to Employment for Diverse Youth, $79,500
Olympic National Park has designed a comprehensive program to partner youth with leading scientists and creative educators to engage and train young stewards about today’s significant environmental issues. The Olympic Pathways for Youth program recruits local students from Olympic Peninsula’s economically disadvantaged and relatively isolated communities. Deploying a variety of programs will dram in interested young people and introduce them to an amazing resource in their own backyard. There are two large Latino populations and eight Native American Tribes living on the peninsula. This program will allow the park to create four youth programs designed to lead to employment options in the future.
4. Understanding Olympic National Park’s Shrinking Glaciers, $12,000
Glaciers are an important hydrologic resource and sensitive indicators of climate change. This project will properly monitor the amount of glacier loss Olympic National Park is incurring and allow the park to better understand the mechanisms and rate of change each glacier has. Together with the North Coast and Cascades Network (NCCN), Olympic National Park will adopt the same methodologies used in Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, although previous studies have shown that Olympic’s glaciers are responding to climate change differently than the glaciers in other parks. Since the glaciers affect everything from salmon health to recreation, this project is an important part of protecting Olympic National Park’s resources.
5. Adopt-a-Fish: Radio-tracking the Return of Pacific Salmon to the Elwha River, $25,000
For nearly a century, salmon migrations into Olympic National Park have been blocked on the Elwha River by two large hydroelectric dams. In 2011 the removal of the lowermost dam (Elwha Dam) allowed Pacific salmon to regain access to eight miles of new habitats. The next dam up the river, the Glines Canyon Dam, will be fully removed in 2013 and Pacific salmon will be able to recolonize 80 miles of mostly protected habitat within park boundaries. This project will allow biologists to tag and track adult fish migrations in the Elwha and its tributaries. The low populations of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout will be the species tracked, as they’ve been recognized as federally threatened species. A website will also be created, to allow the general public to see the positions and movements of individual fish throughout the river. This project will provide tangible evidence of the movements of these fish at they return to a habitat they’ve been denied access to for the past 100 years, while also directly involving interested students, volunteers and park employees.
6. Tacking Ocean Acidification in Olympic National Park, $8,496
Since September of 2010, Olympic National Park has been monitoring the change in near-shore ocean pH and other related water chemistry parameters and two sites along the park’s shoreline. While the primary instrumentation for ocean acidification testing in Olympic National Park already exists, funding is needed to maintain and replace worn components. Funding for this program will allow the park to purchase probes, calibration standards and other maintenance equipment, as well as fund seasonal staff to assist in maintenance and downloading this important data. Change in ocean acidification affects the fundamental physiological processes of marine organisms along with the ability of many organisms to construct a maintain shells made from calcium carbonate.
7. Probing Razor Clam Health in Olympic National Park, $12,200
Razor clams are an important resource in Olympic National Park, both culturally and ecologically. Olympic National Park has a responsibility to manage razor clams harvest to ensure there are enough clams to meet both cultural and ecological roles. Since 2009, the razor clam population has experiences significant declines. And, the remaining populations have been assessed and show more than 95% are infected with a bacterial pathogen, NIX. Further assessment hasn’t been possible due to lack of funding. However, this project would allow park biologists to re-assess the razor clams and develop a more cost-effective and sustainable method to continue testing this important Olympic National Park resource.
8. Complete Evaluation of Invasive Plants in the Queets Valley, $4,803
Several former homesteads in the Queets Valley of Olympic National Park, abandoned in the first half of the 20th century, have been colonized by invasive, exotic plant species with the potential to spread into the wilderness beyond the homesteads (especially exotic blackberries and the Canadian thistle). As of 2006 there were 16 such homesteads of at least one acre in size, totaling 128 acres. The Queets Valley is popular with park visitors for hiking, camping, fishing, and other recreational activities. This project will allow the park to complete surveys to produce reports on the status of invasive, exotic and culturally-significant plants on the abandoned homesteads, which will form the basis for planning to address the issue. A biological science technician will be in charge of ensuring all data is properly entered and stored, assisting in writing final reports, and providing graphics in order to properly deal with the problem, and prevent further introduction of invasive species.