Around The Parks: Fishers In North Cascades And Mount Rainier, Yosemite Youth Programs, Glacier Conservancy Gets CEO
Fisher Recovery Program Considered For North Cascades, Mount Rainier
Fishers, which have been successfully returned to Olympic National Park, might soon be lurking in the forests of North Cascades and Mount Rainier national parks under a proposal open for public comment.
Fishers are about the size of a cat and are members of the weasel family, related to minks, otters and martens. They are native to the forests of Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, but vanished from Washington state decades ago because of over-trapping in the late 1800s and early 1900s and habitat loss and fragmentation. A recovery program that started in Olympic National Park in 2008 was the first attempt to return these carnivores to the state.
Now North Cascades National Park officials are seeking comments on a proposed plan to reintroduce the Pacific fisher to Mount Rainier and North Cascades. Considered extirpated (absent) from Washington since the mid-1990s, the Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti) is the only native carnivore that is no longer found within the Cascade Range of Washington State.
In 1998, the State formally listed the fisher as endangered, and in 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the West Coast fisher as a federal candidate for listing as an endangered or threatened species.
To restore this species to its historic range in Washington, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks are proposing to team up with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to reintroduce this species to the North and South Cascades—the last two of the three major ecosystems statewide where successful fisher reintroduction is needed in order to meet Washington State’s recovery goals for this species. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Olympic National Park staff successfully reintroduced fishers at Olympic National Park from 2008-2010.
“It is very exciting to partner with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Mount Rainier National Park to reintroduce the fisher to this area,” said North Cascades National Park Complex Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich. “Reintroducing any species, much less one as wild as the fisher, is a complex and dynamic process and requires the collaboration of landowners and managers across the landscape to be successful.”
Yosemite Youth Programs Get $1.8 Million From Yosemite Conservancy
Nearly $2 million has been contributed by the Yosemite Conservancy to a dozen Youth in Yosemite programs that teach young children about nature through the Junior Ranger program, help under-served high school students experience the wilderness for the first time, and enable college interns to work side-by-side with park staff to repair trails and preserve habitat.
“Youth in Yosemite programs build lifelong connections to nature that encourage park stewardship,” said Conservancy President Mike Tollefson. “Using Yosemite as an inspirational tool and the expertise of park partners, these programs excite youth of all ages to become our next scientists, community leaders and educators.”
The programs involve youth ages seven to the early 20s and often involve under-served populations.
The Junior Ranger program, for children 7-13 years old, is one of the projects being funded. This fun and interactive program helps develop an appreciation for protecting natural resources by teaching kids about park wildlife, habitat and history.
Another program, Adventure Risk Challenge, improves literacy, leadership and wilderness skills for underserved California high school youth as part of a 40-day immersion in Yosemite’s backcountry.
Participants in California Conservation Corps, Student Conservation Association and Youth Conservation Corps programs spend their summers restoring the park’s trails, campgrounds and habitat, and learning leadership skills.
“Youth leave the park with valuable new leadership, teamwork skills, and community service experience. Best of all, most leave inspired to care for our parks,” said Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher. “Many of these programs would not happen without Yosemite Conservancy and its donors.”
Through the Yosemite Leadership Program (YLP), University of California, Merced students work alongside National Park Service staff gaining practical field-based experience that involves wilderness protection, search and rescue skills, and resource management. Most of the participants in multi-day Youth in Yosemite programs are from California’s Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, and Southern California.
Jesus Dolores, 22, of Madera, California, experienced the importance of conservation through YLP and is bringing the message back to his community.
“I’m trying to get people interested in coming to Yosemite, especially the Latino community,” he said. I’m really trying to engage them and get them inspired to come here.”
Mark Preiss Named Chief Executive Officer Of Glacier National Park Conservancy
The Glacier National Park Conservancy has hired Mark Preiss as chief executive officer responsible for managing and coordinating all Conservancy activities with Glacier National Park and other federal agency partners.
Mr. Preiss brings to the position 25 years of experience working with non-profit groups in collaboration with the National Park Service and other government and private organizations to protect and enhance our natural and cultural heritage. He most recently served as Reserve Manager of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, a unit of the National Park system located on Whidbey Island, Washington.
Prior to his appointment at Ebey’s Landing, Mr. Preiss served in leadership positions in numerous conservation and environmental organizations throughout the United States.
“It’s a privilege to be joining the Glacier National Park Conservancy,” Mr. Preiss said. “I look forward to be working with an energized and deeply committed board, staff and community to provide essential private philanthropic investment supporting the park’s most important programs and to ensure that the Glacier experience is available to all and for generations to come. The Conservancy and Glacier National Park partnership is poised to become a national and international model for strategic collaboration and public, private partnership, as the Park Service moves toward its Centennial in 2016."