Volunteers will trek into backcountry to check status of Olympic marmots

Staff reportApril 21, 2013 

For the fourth season, Olympic National Park will use volunteers to monitor marmots. The park is currently recruiting volunteers for this year’s project.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Volunteers are needed to help Olympic National Park during its fourth season of monitoring marmots.

In the past three years, small groups of volunteers have visited designated survey areas to gather information about population presence and distribution. Tracking and monitoring these changes allow wildlife managers to evaluate the population’s status on an ongoing basis, said a park news release.

Last year, the U.S. Forest Service coordinated with the park to monitor the surrounding Olympic National Forest, expanding monitoring efforts to the species’ entire range.

The Olympic marmot is the official endemic mammal of the state of Washington. The range of the species is limited to the alpine meadows within the park and surrounding national forest.

More than 90 volunteers participate in the project each year.

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, said the news release. Most trips to the survey area involve a 5- to 20-mile hike with a significant elevation gain. Volunteers then camp in or near the survey areas and search for marmots two to four days.

A limited number of day hike assignments are also available for the Hurricane Hill, Klahhane Ridge and Obstruction Point survey areas. 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, with classroom and field training. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation. Camping fees will be waived at Heart O’ the Hills and other frontcountry sites for the evening before training. Park entrance and backcountry fees will also be waived for volunteers.

The application deadline is May 1, but may close earlier if enough eligible volunteers have been accepted, or last longer if some trips remain unfilled.

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