For the second year, a grant from The Boeing Co. will help fund the visitor shuttle service at Mount Rainier National Park.
The $50,000 grant was awarded to Washington’s National Park Fund which is using it to help the park in its efforts to become carbon neutral and cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half.
“The Boeing grant is great news for Mount Rainier National Park and for everyone who enjoys it,” said Eleanor Kittelson, executive director of Washington’s National Park Fund, in a prepared statement.
The shuttle service, with routes being Ashford and Longmire and Longmire to Paradise, helps reduce some of the weekend traffic during the park’s busy summer season.
Next year will be the sixth the park has operated the shuttle system, first started because of construction at Paradise.
More than 26,000 people rode the shuttle in 2010. The park saw the greatest use of the shuttles in 2009, when 30,202 riders too a shuttle from mid-June to early September, according to Bryan Bowden, the park’s community outreach planner. In 2008, the count was 10,213 riders, 18,254 in 2007 and 13,481 in 2006.
One change for 2011, the park has decided to bring back a shuttle route at Paradise.
“We’ll be adding a bus to make continuous runs to pick up visitors using the overflow parking along the Paradise Valley Road,” said assistant superintendent Randy King.
Also new for the 2011 shuttles will be the addition of park- specific and environmental education displays on the buses. On some of the routes, a park interpretive ranger will ride along offering information to visitors.
Park managers also are expecting to receive a transportation plan sometime in 2011, King said.
The plan, paid for by the first Boeing grant, will offer recommendations but not in time to affect next summer’s shuttle service, he said.
The shuttle system is one of the projects the park is using to meet its goal to become carbon neutral and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2016. The goals were set by the National Park Service’s Climate Friendly Park program.
The Mount Rainier grant supports Boeing’s goal of funding projects that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, inspire environmental citizenship and protect and restore critical natural habitat, Kittelson said.
Washington’s National Park Fund supports Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic national parks through a series of contributions.
The fund hopes to assist the park with almost $230,000 for projects in 2011, ranging from studies of the red fox and the effects of climate change on the park’s glaciers, to a program that introduces families and students groups to camping at the park.
To learn more about the fund, go to wnpf.org.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640, email@example.com, blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure