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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Olympic National Park is now accepting volunteer applications for the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program 2015 survey season. Launched in 2010, the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program employs teams of volunteers to visit designated survey areas within the park and gather timely and vital information about the Olympic marmot's population presence and distribution.
The Olympic marmot (Marmota olympus) is an iconic species of the Olympic Peninsula. They are the official endemic mammal of the state of Washington, found only in the alpine meadows within the park and surrounding National Forest and nowhere else in the world.
Tracking Olympic marmot populations and monitoring their changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population's status on an ongoing basis. Through cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, monitoring occurs over the species' entire range.
More than 90 volunteers participate in the project each year, hailing from the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle/Tacoma area, and as far away as Portland, Oregon and British Columbia.
"Over the last five years, the outstanding work and dedication of our marmot citizen scientists has provided important information for continued protection of the Olympic marmot," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "Citizen Science programs provide valuable data and unique opportunities for volunteers to take part in in research that influences the management of their park."
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 in length. Most survey areas are located between five and twenty 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.
A limited number of day hike assignments are 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 monitor with a partner. Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
All volunteers are required to participate in a one-day training that includes both 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 will also be waived for volunteers.
The 2015 application deadline is May 1, but may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted, or last longer if some trips remain unfilled. After the 2015 survey season, the program will be on hiatus for several years to allow researchers to analyze the data and evaluate how frequently the program needs to be conducted in order to effectively track the marmot population, so interested people should apply soon!
The Marmot Monitoring Program is made possible by donations through Washington's National Park Fund. To learn more about Washington's National Park Fund or contribute please visit http://wnpf.org.
To learn more and to apply to be a Marmot Citizen Scientist,visits the park's website, www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/olympic-marmot-monitoring.htm.
A short video about the project and the marmot monitor training can be found at http://nwparkscience.org/node/1044.