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Enjoy hiking and camping? Want to support your park? Interested in endemic species?
If you answered yes to all three questions, Olympic National Park has a volunteer opportunity for you! For the second straight year, "citizen scientists" are sought to help monitor the status of Olympic marmots in the park.
Olympic National Park recognizes that the Olympic marmot (marmot Olympus) is an iconic species: 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.
Small groups of volunteer marmot monitors will visit designated survey areas to gather timely and vital 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 80 volunteers, hailing from the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle/Tacoma area and as far away as Los Angeles participated.
The program is made possible through cooperation with the non-profit Washington's National Park Fund.
"Building off the success of last year's program, we're hoping to get an even more diverse and dedicated group of volunteers," said Patti/Sue/Karen. "Not only are occupancy surveys a inexpensive and effective way to monitor the marmot population, but they also let us involve more people—whether they're students, families, retirees—in some of the science that influences the management of their park."
An overview of the program is available here: tinyurl.com/4gwzqcg. (PDF link hosted on Olympic National Park's website.)
More information on the program—including last year's results, this year's available survey trips, marmot research and an application form—is featured on the park's website at tinyurl.com/48pw4jx (www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/olympic-marmot-monitoring.htm)
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 5-20 mile hike (1 or 2 days) with a significant elevation gain to the survey area.
A limited number of day hike assignments are also 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. 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 will also be waived for volunteers.