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Elusive Pine Marten Seeking Volunteers for Outdoor Adventures

Posted by Loren Drummond at Nov 21, 2013 01:45 PM |

Put your winter adventures to work for pine martens this winter. The Olympic Forest Service and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a non-profit organization that partners hikers with scientific projects, are looking for volunteer hikers to help monitor pine martens in Olympic National Forest this winter.

The Olympic Forest Service and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a non-profit organization that partners hikers with scientific projects, have just a few more spots for volunteers to help monitor the Coastal Olympic Pine Marten in Olympic National Forest this winter.

Martens are small carnivores who have historically been found throughout the mountains of Pacific coastal states. Though they are related to otters, mink, and skunks, the elusive martens are most at home in trees. Martens maintain their dark coats year-round, so winter is the best time to try and spot them. (See last year's volunteers and some footage of martens in action below.)

Very few martens have been spotted in Olympic National Forest in recent years, and forest service biologists will use data collected by volunteers to better understand marten activity in the forest and to develop management policy for these "critically imperiled" animals.

> Learn more or volunteer for the project now.

Remote camera stations (and you) help monitor martens

Scientists will be setting up 20 remote wildlife cameras in high elevation drainages of Olympic National Forest to monitor marten activity. ASC and the Forest Service need volunteer help checking and maintaining the camera stations.

“If martens still exist in greater numbers on the Olympic Peninsula, then they may be doing so in higher, isolated pockets of habitat," says Betsy Howell, a U.S. Forest Service biologist with the Olympic National Forest. "Getting to these areas can be challenging, particularly during the winter months, which are the most ideal for carnivore surveys.”

What to expect and how to sign up

If you're interested in learning winter wildlife tracking techniques or just want to combine your outdoor adventures with a wildlife conservation project, then the pine martin project needs you. You don't need any tracking experience to sign up, but applicants should have basic winter camping skills and the ability/desire to walk, ski or snowshoe long distances over rugged terrain in the snow. 

To participate, you must attend two training weekends organized by ASC. The trainings will be held on January 18-19, 2014 and Feb. 1-2, 2014 (the trainings begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and end at 5 p.m. Sunday). Indoor accommodation is available Friday and Saturday nights.
Each of the cameras needs to be checked by teams every two to three weeks between January and April to replace data cards, batteries and refill bait stations. If selected for this project, you will be asked to "adopt a drainage" and maintain two cameras in one drainage along with a partner.  Each volunteer pair will be required to check their adopted cameras once every 14-21 days.
Some of the trails volunteers might end up traveling include: Tunnel Creek, Mount Jupiter, Lena Lake, Mildred Lakes, and Mount Rose.

What's at stake? See last year's volunteers in action

> Check out Ashley Ahern's KUOW story on last year's study.

Marten Adventure from EarthFix on Vimeo.

More citizen science opportunities:

From butterflies to birds, several other organizations also have citizen science programs for hikers:

> Conservation Northwest has a citizen science volunteer program.

> Check out the North Cascades Institute citizen science program.

> Find a bird project with Audubon.


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Comments

Forgot one!

Don't forget a great citizen science project: Meadowatch.

https://sites.google.com/a/uw.edu/meadowatch/

I participated this summer and it was a great experience -- and a wonderful hike up near Paradise Glacier on Mt. Rainier.

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"Hiking_Dad_3000" on Nov 25, 2013 11:18 PM