subalpine meadows Mount Rainier photo 7119770795 999e3afe69 b subalpine meadows Mount Rainier
Photo by Mount Rainier NPS cc

2015 Funding Priority | Amount Needed $31,600 | FUNDED

funded_01 funded 01 e1447882111958Funding is needed to hire a seasonal GS-7 Park Ranger for five months to coordinate the Meadow Rover program at Paradise and Sunrise and the Emergency Roadside Assistance (“Raven”) program at Paradise. The person hired will be responsible for training, coordinating, supplying, and supervising two volunteers to patrol roads and parking lots at Paradise from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and training and supervising about a hundred intermittent Meadow Rover volunteers. Funding will pay for the supervisor and provide per diem, housing, a vehicle, and basic supplies for the two Raven volunteers.

Protecting the fragile subalpine meadows at Paradise and Sunrise is one of Mount Rainier National Park’s highest priorities. Experience has shown that this is best accomplished by having people in the field, contacting and educating hikers about the importance of staying on trails. With limited staff, this is best accomplished by volunteers, and volunteers are best served by a full-time supervisor who can coordinate their efforts and provide consistent guidance and training. Because the Emergency Roadside Assistance (“Raven”) volunteers operate in the same area, having them supervised by the same person also adds efficiency. Raven volunteers provide assistance to visitors that would otherwise pull law enforcement rangers away from more urgent and specialized duties, and our experience with this program in the past has demonstrated it to be highly effective.

The Meadow Rover program is one of Mount Rainier’s most popular and effective programs. It commonly draws more than a hundred volunteers per year who contribute around 7,000 hours of service patrolling trails and contacting tens of thousands of visitors. The specific effects are hard to estimate, but past research has shown that a human presence is the most effective way to prevent damage to subalpine meadows. These volunteers also improve visitor experience by providing basic information and education, and increase safety by intercepting people headed up to the Muir Snowfield and educating them about risks and preparedness. Raven volunteers improve visitor experience by rescuing people from situations that might otherwise ruin their vacations, like keys locked in their cars or dead batteries, while helping patrol rangers to remain focused on their primary mission of visitor safety.