Mount Rainier Opportunities for Support
Washington's National Park Fund is actively seeking charitable contributions to help make projects possible in the following areas:
1. Subalpine Vegetation Restoration, $12,500
This project is part of an ongoing program designed to restore vegetation in former developed campgrounds and impacted areas at selected sites in the backcountry and wilderness of Mount Rainier National Park using established restoration protocols that have been used successfully in the park in other areas. This restoration work will help prevent soil erosion, prevent vegetation and habitat loss, ensure continued years of Mount Rainier’s famous wildflowers, help these areas be more resilient against climate change, and will allow visitors continued use of the areas. Subalpine areas this program would affect are Paradise Meadows, the former drive-in campground at Sunrise, Spray Park, and selected backcountry camps including Nickel Creek, Lake George, South Mowich, Summerland, Lake James, Knapsack Pass, Curtis Ridge and sites in the Tatoosh Range.
2. Connecting Kids to Parks, $15,000
This program is an essential part of getting children from around the Puget Sound area into Mount Rainier National Park. Funding for this program will provide bus transportation, programming, rangers and park resources. Today, more than ever, it is important to introduce youth to the park, increasing stewardship, understanding, knowledge of and an appreciation for the resources of Mount Rainier. This program will directly benefit 500-1,000 K-12 students.
3. Fisher Restoration (Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, year 1), $20,000
The goal of this project is to restore self-sustaining populations of fishers in the northern and southern Cascades, and Mount Rainier areas. Specifically, the project will relocate 160 fishers (40 each year for two years, in both North Cascades and Mount Rainier) from British Columbia. These fishers will be monitored to assess the success of their reintegration, and to learn more about their biology and ecology in the Cascades. Knowledge gained from this project will enable park biologists to refine fisher’s habitats for future use. Fishers are native to Washington, but during surveys conducted in the 90’s and early 2000’s no fishers were detected. Fishers play an important role in the cycle of life in Washington by consuming both vertebrate and invertebrate prey, and dispersing seeds, spores and pollen in their fur. This project has already proven successful in Olympic National Park, where this project began in 2009.
4. Paradise Trail Crew, $40,000
The Paradise area is one of the most used areas of Mount Rainier National Park. This portion of the park’s trail system invites people of all abilities, ages and interests. Funding for this program will provide a trail crew to work with volunteer and youth programs who will work on these important trails. The crew will focus on improving trail tread and related structures (loose steps, hand rails, etc.), protecting resources by identifying trail locations in the spring and through visitor contacts throughout the season, and by responding to Search and Rescue needs. This crew will work from early July to mid-September.
5. Flight Helmet Avionics Upgrade, $1,800
Mount Rainier National Park relies upon aviation for many of its critical operations, including search and rescue, bridge and trail construction, human waste removal from remote locations, aerial survey and structure maintenance. For many of these projects, use of a civilian vendor helicopter is sometimes required. For these flights, communication avionics compatible with these civilian vendor aircrafts are needed. Since purchasing new helmets with these capabilities would be incredibly expensive, this program provides a way to simply replace the avionics of the park’s current military flight helmets with civilian-compatible components. Communication is a critical piece of a successful mission, no matter what the goal is, and upgrading these helmets will help increase the overall safety of the park’s missions.
6. WCC Historic Preservation Crew, $16,000
This project will support a Washington Conservation Crew youth crew to work on preserving historic structures in Mount Rainier National Park. The park has five individually listed National Historic Landmarks and a park-wide National Historical Landmark District that includes over 150 contributing structures ranging from backcountry shelters to Paradise Inn. The WCC group will include five crew members and a crew leader who will work alongside park maintenance staff to primarily focus on preserving historic backcountry cabins and shelters. Work will include minor carpentry and painting. Park backcountry carpenters will provide guidance and supervision.
7. RAVN Roadside Assistance, $10,000
The RAVN (Roadside Assistance for Visitors in Need) program in Mount Rainier National Park provides free roadside assistance to park visitors who experience minor motor vehicle problems while visiting the park. RAVN volunteers help with visitors who are locked out of their cars, have dead batteries, have run out of gas, etc. Funding for the continuation of this program covers the rental costs of two government vehicles, housing costs for volunteers, volunteer stipends, and costs for equipment like traffic paddles, jumper cables, traffic cones, reflective triangles, safety vests, fuel, and oil. The RAVN program operates seven days a week during the busy months (June, July, and August). It is estimated the RAVN program saved visitors about $70,000 in service calls over the course of 109 assistance calls.
8. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (4 TRTs), $22,500
The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program is a nationwide program where teachers spend the summer working as park rangers, and then take the parks back to their classrooms in the fall, by developing and presenting lesson plans that draw on their summer’s experience. At Mount Rainier National Park teachers work as field interpreters and educators giving programs, staffing the visitor center, and roving trails. Teachers are trained and coached in presenting interpretive programs, and they learn techniques to help create opportunities for visitors to make emotional and intellectual connections to the park. Not only does this help the visitors these teachers come in contact with, but also the students they go back and teach in the fall. This program will allow the park to continue this program, despite shrinking budgets. These teachers provide the same services as an interpretive ranger, at ¼ of the cost, and are well-worth the investment.
9. Engaging Underserved Youth, $6,500 - $24,000
The goal of this project is for Mount Rainier National Park to work with urban youth groups to help them develop a deeper understanding of park resources and the relevance of these special places in their lives. In collaboration with partners, the park will enhance and improve their ability to bring youth from diverse communities to Mount Rainier. Youth from the Seattle/Tacoma area who might otherwise never visit a national park will have a chance to experience the beauty and excitement of exploring and learning about Mount Rainier through this program. These connections will allow these students to return to the park later as a Student Conservation Association (SCA) volunteers, or even apply for an entry-level park position through the Pathway Program. Funding for this program will be used for the leadership of the program in either an SCA intern, an Education Park Ranger, or a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher candidate.
10. Hoophouse Rehab, $2,500
The greenhouse facility at Mount Rainier National Park provides native plant materials and seed sourced from within the park for vegetation projects carried out under the Vegetation Restoration Program. The hoophouse is a critical component of the greenhouse plant production operations because it provides additional growing space to produce plant materials since the main greenhouse quickly reaches capacity during summer production. In the ten years this building has been in use, no updates have been made, and primary parts of the building are in need of updating. Funding for this program will be used to replace the pressure treated lumber bracing, and to replace the dual layer, coated polyethylene covering and required fasteners. The existing polycarbonate side panels will be reused. The greenhouse efforts in Mount Rainier National Park allow the park to best protect some of the most beautiful old-growth forests and wildflowers that keep visitors coming back summer after summer.
11. Nisqually Glacier time-lapse Photography for hazard recognition, $3,414
In an effort to collect scientific information about the glaciers of Mount Rainier National Park, this project would allow a time-lapse camera overlooking the Nisqually Glacier to be installed above Paradise visitor center. This camera will automatically take photographs at hourly intervals, and can run for several years with minimal human maintenance. Mount Rainier National Park is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, and for that reason it provides an exceptional field site for glaciological studies. As the Nisqually Glacier has changed immensely since early photographs, it’s becoming more and more important to track the shrinking of these glaciers as we experience climate change.
12. Greenhouse storage Shed, $6,000
The greenhouse facility at Mount Rainier National Park provides native plant materials and seed sourced from within the Park for vegetation projects carried out under the Vegetation Restoration Program. These projects include revegetation of former developed campgrounds and visitor impacted areas at selected sites in backcountry and wilderness areas as well as visitor and operational impacts to front country areas of the park. In order to complete these year-round revegetation projects, the greenhouse facility must be fully operational and in good repair. The current storage areas for the greenhouse are not large enough, leak, and are not secure (theft has been a reoccurring problem). Funding for this project will build a secure and consolidated storage shed, 24x12 ft., on a concrete pad with electrical outlets and lighting.
13. Monitoring Elk Populations in Washington's Parks (MORA/OLYM), $31,000
Elk populations are key components of lowland and montane ecosystems in Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks, and are tightly woven into each park’s historical and cultural fabrics. Although the elk were largely protected in Olympic National Park by its vast wilderness, Mount Rainier was also created in order to protect the natural resources that call that area home. Over the years, many things have impacted the elk in Mount Rainier National Park, and an attempt to track their movement in and around the park is vital. A program very similar to this is already well underway in Olympic National Park, but continuation of the program throughout the North Coast and Cascades Inventory and Monitoring network. Funding for this program comes from many different places, but $31,000 is still needed in order to cover the costs of helicopter usage during the surveys. More can be learned about the Elk Surveys under the Olympic National Park tab.
14. Test and protect Exposed Frozen Lake Archaeological Site, $39,982
This project will fund archaeological testing, analysis, and report preparation of a prehistoric hunting and butchering site. This site was first recorded in 1986 on the alpine ridge immediately west of Frozen Lake above Sunrise Ridge.
15. Protect Subalpine Meadows through the Meadow Rover Program, $28,696
The meadow rover program at Mount Rainier National Park is one of their most successful volunteer efforts, allowing volunteers to “patrol” the subalpine meadows above Paradise and Sunrise, interacting with visitors, answering their questions, helping them find their way, and most importantly, educating them on the importance of staying on the trails in those fragile environments. Funding for this program will allow the park to hire a long-term (six-month) seasonal employee to coordinate the volunteer Meadow Rover program at Paradise and Sunrise. This individual will be responsible for recruiting, training, coordinating, supplying and supervising the volunteers who patrol these subalpine meadows. This coordinator will relieve the Paradise Interpreter and Sunrise Lead Interpreter the job of managing 140 individuals, which would normally be in addition to their regular duties. Meadow rovers performed 7,595 hours of work in 2012.
16. Stabilize and Revegetate Eroded areas within Sunrise Campground Restoration, $77,652
The former drive-in campground at Sunrise was restored in the late 1990’s, including re-contouring of the site with heavy machinery and intensive planting of native plant species. The former road in this site has been proven to be susceptible to erosion and now channels snow melt water every year. Stabilization and revegetation of this area is a critical step to preventing further erosion, and ensuring the continuation of the beauty of the native plants that grow at the Sunrise Campground. Funding for this program will provide for a seasonal crew, helicopter time to transport large rock for stabilization, soil, erosion cloths, tools, and vehicle rentals. Also, signage will be placed to inform visitors of the impacts they have on the area, and will direct them to the designated trails.
17. Greenhouse/Nursery expansion for Restoration of Campgrounds and Developed Areas, $187,878
Campgrounds and developed areas throughout Mount Rainier National Park are heavily used by park visitors, and this use can have a negative impact on the plant communities within these areas. As a result of this usage, plant communities are declining, experiencing a lower threshold against disease and insects, and experiencing other negative effects. To combat these negative impacts, an 1,800 square foot greenhouse at the nursery location at Tahoma Woods needs to be constructed. Building this greenhouse would increase the current capacity for plant growth from 70-80,000 plants to 140,000-160,000 per year! This increase in capacity would allow the park to meet the demand for native trees and other plans to be used to restore areas impacted by visitors. In addition, this greenhouse will be located adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park’s Education Center and therefore become a valuable part of youth programming, volunteer projects, and class projects.
18. Helicopter Ops Support Trailer (HOST), $44,000
Mount Rainier National Park relies heavily on aviation for many of its critical operations including search and rescue, bridge and trail construction, human waste removal from remote locations, aerial survey, and structure maintenance. In order to safely complete aviation operations, it is necessary to have a helibase where all operations can be based. This base will serve as a staging area, a refueling area, a takeoff and landing site, and a communications hub through which all contact with the aircraft is accomplished. The park has only one helibase, which after recent flooding, no longer has electricity or network connectivity. Funding this project will allow Mount Rainier National Park to purchase a cargo trailer and custom create a mobile helibase to meet the specific needs of the park, or to purchase a used HOST from a government contractor. Both of these options will not only increase the safety of operations in Mount Rainier National Park, but it will also allow the park to have a mobile base of operation, making them prepared for many special circumstances that could arise.
19. Communicating Climate Change to Mount Rainier’s Visitors and Students, $22,373
Climate change is history in the making and an especially important topic at Mount Rainier National Park. These changes are changing the way the park looks, functions, and will continue to have an effect in many unforeseen ways. Communicating these changes to visitors is an important job for interpreters in the park, and as such, they need to be trained and supported to effectively communicate this information. This program would allow the park to hire a specific Climate Change Communication Liaison staff member, on a seasonal basis, to develop and facilitate new programs, and work closely with the education and interpretation staff. Effective climate change communication has the ability to inspire stewardship for our nation’s resources.
20. Plan and Produce Digital Audio Tour for Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail, $26,000
In the spirit of the NPS Call to Action goals “Go Digital” and “Out with the Old”, this project’s goal is to replace an outdated pamphlet-guided interpretive tour of the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs Trail with a new digital audio tour. Located adjacent to the popular Ohanapecosh Campground and Visitor Center, this interpretive tour will improve visitor experiences in the area, and better serve families. Funding for this program will fund research and preparation of a script and purchase of audio playback equipment. This audio tour will be free for park visitors, and will be available for both mp3 download, and playback devices visitors can check-out and use on the trail.
21. Historic Architecture intern, $7,692
Preserving historic resources is an important part of the National Park Service’s mission, Mount Rainier National Park’s General Management Plan, and a requirement under the National Historic Preservation Act. To be able to do this, documentation of historic structures, condition assessment and treatment recommendations need to be done on a regular basis. Many of Mount Rainier’s structures were built to blend in with the natural environment, which means wood shakes and logs were frequently used. Without frequent monitoring and maintenance, these structures can easily fall into disrepair due to the park’s harsh environment. Funding for this program will allow the park to hire an intern to assist the park historical architect. This will allow these structures to be better maintained, and ensure they exist for generations to come.
22. GIS interns (2) to document Paradise Meadow damage, $8,468
The Paradise meadows are the primary visitation site in Mount Rainier National Park, and because of this, the meadows are being damaged at an alarming and undocumented rate. No comprehensive monitoring of social trails and damaged areas have been conducted since 1988. Presently, the Rangers at Paradise do not have the proper amount of time to devote to monitor these areas. During the 2012 season, field tests were done using GPS devices and photo-documentation methods, all to be prepared to fully begin this method. Funding this portion of Paradise Meadow monitoring will enable the park to hire two interns, and fund their housing and supply uniforms for 15 weeks. Without these interns, there won’t be enough support to carry out this project successfully.