Volunteers sought for park marmot program

Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Volunteers are being sought to help monitor Olympic marmots in the national park.

The Olympic National Park is accepting applications for volunteers for the “citizen science” marmot monitoring program.

The deadline is May 1, but the period may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted.

The Olympic marmot, marmot Olympus, is an iconic species, the park said.

“In addition to being the official endemic mammal of the state of Washington, nearly all available marmot habitat — approximately 90 percent — is protected within park boundaries, with the remaining 10 percent on nearby Olympic National Forest lands,” the park said in a statement.

Small groups

Small groups of volunteer monitors will visit designated survey areas to gather information about population abundance and distribution.

Tracking and monitoring these changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis.

Last year, more than 90 volunteers were involved in the project, hailing from the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle/Tacoma area and from as far away as Portland, Ore., and British Columbia.

This year, Olympic National Forest joined the program, and the monitoring efforts now will include marmot habitat within the forest.

The continuation of this program, now in its third year, is made possible through cooperation with the nonprofit Washington’s National Park Fund and the U.S. Forest Service.

Volunteers must be capable of hiking to and camping in remote areas, be comfortable navigating off-trail and be able to work on steep slopes.

Most survey trips involve a 5- to 20-mile hike of one or two days with a significant elevation gain to the survey area.

A limited number of day-hike assignments also are available for the Hurricane Hill, Klahhane Ridge and Obstruction Point survey area trips.

To ensure safety, volunteers must travel and monitor with a partner.

Up to six individuals may travel in the same group, breaking into smaller groups to visit individual survey areas.

Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Training for volunteers will consist of one training day, featuring both classroom and field training.

Responsible for transportation

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.

To volunteer, visit http://tinyurl.com/48pw4jx.

Last year’s results, this year’s available survey trips, marmot research and an application form are available there.

A short video about the project and the marmot monitor training can be found at www.nwparkscience.org/node/1044.

An overview of the program is available at http://tinyurl.com/4gwzqcg.

Last modified: March 14. 2012 5:32PM
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