The Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association program at Mount Rainier National Park has received the George Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in the Pacific West region of the National Park Service.
The national award winner, chosen from all the regional winners, will be announced in May.
The group was nominated for its effort at the park for the previous 20 years. The program came to an end in 2013.
Nearly 390 Japanese volunteers came to the park each summer, working on a variety of projects. They contributed 22,656 hours of service to the park, valued at more than $501,000.
Those efforts included the handicap-accessible boardwalk at Kautz Creek, repairing and rehabilitating campsites throughout the park, trail repair on the Westside Road, building the handicap-accessible trail near the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center and revegetation projects in many areas.
The Japanese group worked with the park longer than any other international volunteer group in the National Park Service. It also has sent volunteers to other national parks such as Hawaii Volcanoes, Glacier and Manzanar, and has done volunteer projects in Japan as well.
“We are sincerely grateful to all of the participants of the J-VIPA program for their hard work and dedication in helping us repair and improve the resources of Mount Rainier National Park,” superintendent Randy King said last fall at a celebration for the program. “The work they have done will benefit the park for many years to come, and the friendships that have been formed through this program will last a lifetime.”
TRAIL WORK COMPLETED
The National Forest Foundation, Lake Quinault Lodge and the Olympic National Forest recently completed crucial trail restoration work on the forest’s Pacific Ranger District.
Through the foundation’s Forest Stewardship Fund, guests at the lodge donated funding. The foundation granted the funds to local conservation partners to complete these restoration projects, which were supervised by Pacific Ranger District personnel.
The Forest Service and foundation worked with the Student Conservation Association to complete some of the work. A group of 14 urban high school students brushed trails, repaired a trail turnpike and replaced a deteriorated bridge with a new puncheon bridge, according to a news release.
The foundation and Forest Service also worked with the Washington Trails Association on projects important for watershed and habitat protection. Volunteer WTA crews did maintenance and restoration work on the Colonel Bob Trail, the West Fork Humptulips Trail, the Quinault Lakeshore Trail and Gatton Creek Falls Trail.
The three entities will be working on additional projects this year.
NATIONAL PARK WEEK
The National Park Service, with the National Park Foundation, will celebrate National Park Week April 19-27 with a free admission weekend and special events nationwide.
The theme for this year’s celebration invites visitors to “Go Wild” for history, nature, culture, wildlife and fun in the nation’s national parks, said a Park Service news release.
Information, including a list of National Park Week events nationwide can be found online at nationalparkweek.org.
To kick off the celebration, all national parks will have free admission April 19-20.
Also part of the week will be National Junior Ranger Day activities April 26.