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Park seeks volunteers for marmot monitoring program
Olympic National Park sources
Olympic National Park is now accepting volunteer applications for the Olympic Marmot Monitoring Program 2014 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 Olympic National Forest and nowhere else in the world.
Tracking Olympic marmot populations and monitoring annual changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis.
Through cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, monitoring efforts extend 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, Ore., and British Columbia.
On the trail
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 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.
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 2014 application deadline is May 1, but may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted or last longer if some trips remain unfilled.
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 visit http://wnpf.org.
More information about the program is available at 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.