Volunteers needed to monitor Olympic marmot

Staff reportMarch 23, 2014 

An Olympic marmot.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Olympic National Park is accepting applications for volunteers willing to assist the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program during the 2014 survey season.

Started in 2010, the monitoring program uses teams of volunteers to visit designated survey areas within the park. The volunteers gather information about the Olympic marmot’s population presence and distribution.

The Olympic marmot (Marmota olympus) is an official endemic mammal of the state, found only in the alpine meadows within the park and surrounding Olympic National Forest.

Tracking Olympic marmot populations and monitoring annual changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis, according to a park news release.

Working with the U.S. Forest Service, the monitoring program is able to cover the species’ entire range.

More than 90 volunteers participate in the project each year.

Volunteers must be capable of hiking to and camping in remote areas, navigating off trail and working on steep slopes. Survey trips are one to eight days long. Most survey areas are located 5 to 20 miles from a trailhead or road and involve a one- or two-day hike with significant elevation gain. Survey groups camp out in or near the survey areas and search for marmots for two to four days.

There are a limited number of day hike assignments available for the Hurricane Hill, Klahhane Ridge, and Obstruction Point survey areas.

Volunteers work in groups of two to six people. To ensure safety, volunteers must travel and work with a partner. Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

All volunteers must take the one-day training session that includes classroom and field instruction. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation. Camping fees will be waived at Heart O’ the Hills and other front-country sites for the evening before training. Park entrance and backcountry fees also will be waived for volunteers.

The application deadline is May 1, but it might close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted or last longer if some trips remain unfilled.

More information about the program is available at nps.gov/olym/naturescience/olympic-marmot-monitoring.htm.

OLYMPIC VISITOR CENTER WORK

Work to reroof Olympic National Park Visitor Center and an adjacent building is scheduled to begin Monday.

The visitor center will stay open throughout the work period, but outside areas may be cordoned off to protect visitor safety, Olympic National Park managers said in a news release. Visitors should expect increased activity and noise levels.

The work is expected to be complete by early May, weather permitting.

Dark Horse Enterprises, a veteran-owned small business based in Bremerton, is the contractor for the $151,600 project and has subcontracted with Triple A Roofing, based in Port Angeles.

The work includes removal and replacement of the two buildings’ existing 30-year-old cedar shake roofs. Work will typically occur weekdays from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; weekend work may be scheduled.

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