WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a ceremony in the nation’s capital today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recognized The Student Conservation Association-Mount Rainier Partnership as one of 21 recipients nationwide of the Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award.
The 21 awards recognized the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.
“These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our Department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation.”
Jay A. Satz, Student Conservation Association regional vice president based in Seattle, accepted the award for the Student Conservation Association-Mount Rainier Partnership. The award recognizes the partnership’s outstanding contributions to restoration of Mount Rainier National Park after floods devastated the park in Washington state on Nov. 6, 2006.
The Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative was coordinated by the Student Conservation Association, along with the National Park Service and a coalition of nonprofit organizations. They recruited volunteers, raised public awareness, and enlisted the help of the local business community. During the summer of 2007, more than 700 people worked on more than 100 recovery projects. Volunteer contributions reduced costs and helped preserve wilderness values by completing work with traditional hand tools instead of power equipment. (See list at end for some of the groups and individuals involved.)
“The Student Conservation Association’s Initiative is largely responsible for the near doubling of Mount Rainier’s volunteer program from 2006 to 2007,” the award noted. “More than half of the trail work at Mount Rainier in 2007 was completed by volunteers.” Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) congratulated SCA on the accomplishment.
The partnerships work continues in 2008. SCA reports that “this year’s goal is to continue engaging as many public volunteers as possible, emphasizing groups, youth groups, organizations, and returning individuals.”
SCA will offer wilderness and project management training sessions beginning in mid-May to park staff and interested community volunteers, with an emphasis on public training opportunities in July and August. Training will include risk management, Wilderness First Aid/CPR, Wilderness First Responder (through SCA’s partner Aerie School of Backcountry Medicine), volunteer management (through NPS), team building, Meadow Rover orientation, Leave No Trace, search and rescue procedures, natural and cultural history, and, of course, traditional conservation work skills.
“The National Park Service has had a long-standing partnership with the Student Conservation Association and we are excited to offer our volunteers some new training opportunities,” said Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga.
The Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and Federal, State, local, and/or tribal governments.
“This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities,” the Secretary told the crowd at the main Interior auditorium. “If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit and you are the hands of cooperative conservation.”
Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative (Washington)
Nominated by the National Park Service
National Park Service, Mount Rainier National Park
Kevin L. Bacher
David V. Uberuaga
National Parks Conservation Association
Student Conservation Association
Jay A. Satz
Washington Trails Association
Washington’s National Park Fund