Hanford will be part of new park

As part of the provisions included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is authorized to be established after the National Park Service and the Department of Energy reach an agreement. The park would include sites at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The park will protect and explain the resources associated with the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. The park will have two other locations: Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The B Reactor at Hanford is where plutonium for the first nuclear weapons was produced.

It will be administered in partnership with the Department of Energy, which will continue to own most facilities.

The establishment of the park was just one part of an expansion of the National Park Service included in the legislation, which was signed Dec. 19. Also being created is the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in the greater Las Vegas area, which will protect Pleistocene paleontological, scientific, educational and recreational resources.

The legislation also authorizes the U.S. Mint to strike commemorative coins honoring the 2016 National Park Service Centennial. The mint is authorized to issue $5 gold, $1 silver, and half-dollar clad coins in 2016 to commemorate the centennial of the Park Service. The proceeds from the sale of the coins will go to the National Park Foundation for use in funding park projects and programs.

Rainier retirements

Two biologists have retired after ending their longtime careers at Mount Rainier National Park.

Lou Whiteaker, a plant ecologist, retired Wednesday after more than 27 years of government service.

He also worked at Haleakala and Evergrlades national parks, as well as the Bureau of Land Management in Klamath Falls, Oregon. While there, he was the co-founder and first president of the Pacific Northwest Exotic Pest Plant Council (now the PNW Invasive Plant Council).

Whiteaker came to the park in 2008, filling the plant ecologist position. His work at Mount Rainier includes implementation of the hazard tree plan and participation in the development and implementation of North Coast and Cascades Network Inventory and Monitoring vegetation monitoring protocols.

He also oversaw the park’s vegetation restoration program, recording a high of 130,000 plants planted in a single year.

Barbara Samora retired Saturday after 39 years of service with the Park Service. She spent the last 26 years at Mount Rainier as a biologist focusing on aquatics and physical science.

At Mount Rainier, she managed the atmospheric, aquatic and social science programs. In 2005, Samora received the NPS Director’s Award for Natural Resource Management for her outstanding achievements.

As the park’s research coordinator, Samora mentored countless students and interns during her time at Mount Rainier. She also served as principal author, planning leader or team member on many planning efforts such as the wilderness management plan, natural resource management plan, general management plan and climate friendly action plan.

Her Park Service career included stints at Yosemite National Park, Cape Cod National Seashore and the North Atlantic Regional Office.