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Mount Rainier Opportunities for Support


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


The goal of this project is to restore self-sustaining populations of fishers in the southern and northern Cascades (including Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park Complex), 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 southern Cascades and northern 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 Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park Complex, into the foreseeable future (>100 years).  Given the success of Olympic National Park’s fisher reintroduction, park staff expects 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. This grant would be used to obtain radio collars and other equipment needed for the initial release of fishers.



2.      Ranger-led Education Staffing and Youth Program Safety - $24,000


This project will provide a skilled NPS-uniformed GS-07 staff member who will enable the park to meet the education and safety goals when we have student groups come to the park.  Most school trips to the park take place during the spring when Paradise is buried in snow. Many of these school groups are underserved urban youth groups, who have never been to Mount Rainier or spent time in a snowy environment. Taking kids out on a snowshoe walk can be life changing, but does require the park provide adequate staff levels to ensure students (and chaperones) receive the training, guidance and oversight to safely negotiate snow trails and their inherent hazards. During the summer, we need to be adequately staffed to meet the needs of youth groups that either visit the park or are working in the park, such as SCA trail crews and scouts. In the fall, school groups return and whereas we don’t typically have snow on the ground, the weather can be highly changeable.

Our ability to safely conduct these park-based activities is part of a continuum of Mount Rainier experiences we seek to provide youth, including recreational and educational opportunities, as well as volunteer activities and, for some, employment.


Through this project and the programs it makes possible, youth from the Seattle/Tacoma areas who might otherwise never visit a national park – or even know one exists – will have a chance to experience the beauty and excitement of exploring and learning about Mount Rainier.  We will have the capacity to provide meaningful place-based education about the natural and cultural history of Mount Rainier and participate in activities that promote self-development, environmental responsibility and outdoor career exposure.


3.       Search and Rescue


Gifts to the Mount Rainier’s search and rescue program support training, rescue equipment, prevention programs, and communication systems used by the employees, volunteers and mountain rescue partners who provide search and rescue services to park visitors.


4.      Outfit Camp Schurman High Camp with Communication Infrastructure  - $25,000


The climbers’ high camp located at Camp Schurman is in need of an improved communications system to support climbers and park operations. These are vital safety improvements.  Similar improvements were made at the Camp Muir High Camp three years ago, and have substantially improved communication capabilities and supporting infrastructure.  This project consists of installing a photo-voltaic system to provide reliable power for a network radio bridge that will connect the park’s computer and phone network to Camp Schurman. This infrastructure will support an Internet Protocol (IP) phone and provide network and internet connectivity, all of which will improve operations, safety, planning, emergency services, and availability of weather and avalanche forecasts. 


5.      Provide Conservation Work Opportunities for Youth 


This grant would be used to support youth work programs and partnerships. Mount Rainier employs youth, youth crews and interns in a diverse array of conservation and public service work, often in partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), Washington Conservation Corps (WCC), Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), GeoCorps and universities. Youth employment creates park stewards, opens pathways to potential careers, and accomplishes work essential to the park.  As an example, a 12-week SCA internship can be provided in 2014 for $4,272; two weeks of work by a WCC crew of six young adults can be provided for $16,000.


6.      Meadow Restoration - $4,300 - $78,000


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.  Vegetation restoration includes collecting native plant material, growing plants in the park greenhouse, non-native invasive plant treatment, site stabilization, adding topsoil, planting greenhouse grown native plants, and broadcast seeding.  Restoration work is essential to prevent soil erosion, vegetation and habitat loss, and enable enjoyment of the superlative wildflowers and other plants that are a highlight of summer at Mount Rainier.   $4,300 would enable purchase of a hydroseeder; $78,000 would support an entire seasonal restoration crew for the summer.


7.      Youth Education Program Internships - $6,500 - $24,000


This project will provide a developmental opportunity to a student intern to work alongside uniformed park education staff to facilitate park-based learning experiences for underserved urban youth groups. Through these internships, participants will receive training and experience in delivering programming to visiting youth groups. 


For our programming, we will collaborate with partners to improve our ability to contact and serve these youth groups. We will provide them with a continuum of Mount Rainier experiences, including recreational and educational opportunities, as well as volunteer activities and, for some, employment.  Youth from the Seattle/Tacoma areas who might otherwise never visit a national park – or even know one exists – will have a chance to experience the beauty and excitement of exploring and learning about Mount Rainier.  We will have the capacity to provide meaningful place-based education about the natural and cultural history of Mount Rainier and participate in activities that promote self-development, environmental responsibility and outdoor career exposure.


$6,500 will pay for a three-month internship for a college student or a Student Conservation Association Intern or a Teacher-Ranger-Teacher.  $24,000 will pay for costs incurred for a nine-month Student Conservation Assoc. intern, which will afford us a chance to really focus on building partnerships and reaching out to these underserved communities.


8.      Greenhouse Rehabilitation – $40,000


This project will rehabilitate the Mount Rainier’s greenhouse.  It entails replacement of the polycarbonate greenhouse panels, installation of a cooling and replacement of the environmental controls to reduce energy consumption.  The Mount Rainier greenhouse was built in 1995-96 and has been used by park staff and volunteers to produce native plants for vegetation restoration projects in the park.  Staff at the greenhouse has the capability to produce 100,000 native plants (forbs, shrubs and trees) per year.  To support this work and to improve energy efficiency, the structure is in need of updates and repairs. The original polycarbonate covering materials need replacement as they are allowing water leaks and reducing energy efficiency and light transmission. Installation of a side vent is needed for operating with existing roof vents to improve air flow and control high temperatures.  Finally, a new temperature controller is needed as the original is designed for precise, high input control production of ornamental crops and is not suited to the lower energy input needs of the native plant species produced at Mount Rainier.


9.      Installing a real-time stream gage on the White River, Mount Rainier National Park, for visitor, employee, and downstream citizen safety - $11,000


The White River drains the Emmons Glacier, the largest by volume at Mount Rainier, and its downstream drainage basin is heavily populated. Recent work on outburst floods and debris flows at Mount Rainier and the changing geomorphic landscape due to regional climate change is increasing the possibility that sudden surges of debris and water can be released from the glacier. Without real-time stream monitoring equipment, these surges can be missed, potentially leading to monetary damage as well as loss of life. Also, the next downstream gage on the White River is above Mud Mountain Dam, 42.4 river miles downstream, which represents a major data gap for hydrologic monitoring. This proposal would fund a permanent solar-powered stream gage installation that communicates with satellite networks in the White River basin. These data would be publicly accessible and available to emergency management personnel and interested parties. Limiting the loss of life and infrastructure is the primary aim of this project, but the data would also be useful to researchers, aquatic habitat specialists and flood planners.


10.   Understand the role of rock fall and glaciers in driving river aggradation: the key to predicting future flood risk - $10,000


Mount Rainier rivers are experiencing unprecedented aggradation (filling by sediment), increasing flooding hazards. This aggradation is being driven by prodigious amounts of rock fall to glaciers. Over decades, glacier movement dumps this rock into park rivers, and storm flows move the sediment downstream, clogging the river channels and causing them to rise above the surrounding forests and roads. In fact, scientists believe the current White River aggradation—where the river is 16 feet above the road—is a direct result of the large Tahoma Peak rock fall of 1964 finally making its way down the White River.


This project will support a guest scientist and use existing seismic records to estimate the size, timing, and location of past rock falls, to calculate the amount of rock already on the glaciers, poised to enter park rivers. Knowing the amount of rock currently ‘in play’ will allow park managers to estimate with greater certainty the amount and location of future aggradation. This will significantly improve park transportation planning and flood protection strategies.


11.   WTA Volunteer Crew Leader - $20,000


This project would fund a crew leader to lead Washington Trails Association (WTA) volunteers in trail maintenance within Mount Rainier National Park.  WTA is an essential partner in maintaining over 280 miles of trail enjoyed each year by hundreds of thousands of visitors to Mount Rainier National Park.  


Volunteers are critical to the operation of the park.   An incredible amount of important work is accomplished through volunteers that would not otherwise occur, including routine trail maintenance. More meaningfully, volunteerism enables people to become vested in the care of their park and create a rich personal connection to Mount Rainier.   When someone has worked on a trail, they own it.


In 2013, 349 WTA volunteers participated in 52 work parties and contributed 4,640 hours of trail maintenance valued at $102,730!   Participating groups included two multi-day adult teams and two youth volunteer vacations.  The beauty of the arrangement is that WTA takes on the role of organizing, leading and equipping the volunteer work parties; NPS funds the WTA crew leader position and identifies the trail projects. This proposal supports the WTA crew leader position and would enable a comparable WTA volunteer program and effort within Mount Rainier National Park in 2015.    


12.   Transportation Scholarships to Deliver Kids to Mount Rainier’s Outdoor Classroom - $15,000


The biggest barriers schools face in getting students out on field trips is transportation. Funding from this project would help to remove that barrier by providing bus transportation subsidies to school groups so that students can come to the park to directly experience the mountain environment, while learning why parks like Mount Rainier are important.


With its close proximity to a large metropolitan area, Mount Rainier is within a short drive (less than 100 miles) to 47 school districts serving approximately 245,000 students. Seattle Public Schools, just slightly farther to the north, serve an additional 45,000 students. Many of these students have never been to a national park before, let alone a wilderness area. Yet, many of these students can see Mount Rainier from their neighborhoods.  These urban youth are an audience park staff might not otherwise come in contact with. Through field trips to the park, these students will have the opportunity to come to know and value this and other national parks. And there is the chance that having visited once with their school, there is the possibility youths might return with their families.

It is one of the park’s priorities to reach out to students from underserved communities. This project will enable us to do this. Funding this project will directly benefit at least 500-1,000 K-12 students from schools who would not have the means to visit the park without a bus subsidy. It is especially important that we foster these connections to the Park, and use Mount Rainier National Park as a classroom and living laboratory for also learning about the planet as a whole.


13.   Youth Education Program Support


This project supports development of new park environmental education programs for students.


Mobile Technology for use in the field: $3,500

Portable devices that students are already familiar with will customize the learning experience for students on field trips. They can be used for ecosystem investigations, snow studies, instant data analysis, video/photo reflections, as well as serve as a library of resources for instructors to use for teachable moments.


·        iPad minis (10):  $3,000 

·        Cases/Natural History/ Ed apps: $500


Snow Science Investigation: $4,000

From December through June the park will be leading snow science investigations for our Mount Rainier Institute programming, offered in partnership with the University of Washington. This will require the purchase of new equipment.


·        Avalanche shovels (16) $800

·        Snow Saws (16)  $800

·        Thermometer  (16) $200

·        Snow Study Kits (8) $1,200 (slope meters, inclinometers, snowflake magnifiers and grids, snowbrush)

·        Snow Density Gauges (16) $800

·        Avalanche Poles $200


Climate Change Programming: $3,500

Programs need to be developed for all groups that will explain climate change and its ramifications, both here in the park and at students' homes.


·        Mount Rainier bandana maps for watershed activity $250

·        Large (5’x5’) waterproof fabricated maps of the Mountain: $500

·        Fabricated Glacial Models: $750

·        iPad for simulations (4) $2,000


Programming Focus on Animals & their Habitat $3,500

The park could use a variety of animal skulls, beaks, skins for Junior Ranger programming and to tell the story of the reintroduction of the fisher.  Skins and skulls for use in Junior Ranger programming (including fisher materials)


Capture and Share $4,000

Use of media is a powerful way to get youth to share their park experiences with other youth. Video equipment would provide participants in our youth programs the ability to produce short films on their visits to the park. These films could also be shared with the general public through social media outlets, as appropriate.

·        Video Cameras  $2,500

·        Video Software: $250

·        Staffing to edit footage: $1,250