Olympic National Park, volunteer group mark anniversaries

Peninsula Daily News
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Park staff and SCA members turned out to hear SCA founder Liz Putnam.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — At least 50 people packed the auditorium at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center on Tuesday to celebrate the joint anniversary of the park and the Student Conservation Association, or SCA.

Park staff and numerous SCA members, both past and present, turned out to hear SCA founder Liz Putnam talk about her experiences establishing the group, whose history has been intertwined with the park’s since the SCA’s founding 56 years ago.

The national park celebrates its 75th anniversary Saturday.

Putnam received a Presidential Citizens Medal — the second-highest civilian award in the United States — in 2010.

Speaking with SCA Northwest Vice President Jay Satz in front of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in the auditorium Tuesday, Putnam said the idea for the SCA started in a thesis paper she wrote while a senior at Vassar College in New York in 1955.

Putnam, now living in Vermont, said she was inspired to develop a way for volunteers to maintain the country’s national parks after a Harper’s magazine headline at the time declared that national parks should be closed because of being visited too much.