Helping Hands: State Parks
In recent years, many state park systems throughout the nation have had to manage declining budgets while the demand from visitors remains the same. People love their state parks more than ever and it’s important that site managers find creative ways to fill budgetary gaps. A creative and strong volunteer program is now a must for managers of state parks.
National Public Lands Day (NPLD) can be the catalyst to jump start volunteer participation and programs on a year-round basis. Your state park can get involved in NPLD 2012 by registering a state park site or signing a Memorandum of Mutual Support. Also consider taking steps to create a free-fee day within your state park system (NPLD is a fee-free day at many federal lands).
How does participating in National Public Lands Day benefit state parks?
- Free publicity for your park – All registered NPLD sites receive free promotional materials and have their event publicized on www.publiclandsday.org. At Radnor Lake State Natural Area in Tennessee, the 2011 site coordinator commented that “the added publicity brought out more volunteers and allowed us to accomplish more than we normally would.”
- Creates a community of annual volunteers - At Cuivre River State Park in Missouri, nearly 30 volunteers removed more than 10 downed trees and helped restore rare savanna and woodland habitats. Additionally, they collected over five and one-half pounds of native grass and wildflower species. The same volunteers will work together in 2012 to plant the native seeds they collected.
- Enhances cultural resources – To restore a historic church and school foundation at Greenwood Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania, volunteers installed treated wood curbing and limestone dust. These efforts helped to stabilize the structure and make it better for public display.
- Connects individuals to the parks resources – NPLD is a perfect time to relay a unique story about the park or showcase the park’s recreational opportunities. While hiking to the work site, volunteers at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Kentucky learned about the historic Chained Rock geological feature. At Chicot State Park in Louisiana, participants were treated to a guided canoe tour before removing aquatic debris.
- Teaches others about native and non-native species – Certain wildlife and plants are beneficial to one state but can harm an ecosystem in another state. State park site coordinators often educate volunteers about the benefits of the area’s native species proper removal techniques for non-native species. This was the case regarding honeysuckle; an invasive plant at Little River State Park in Vermont. Volunteers learned how to safely remove the plant during their NPLD event in 2011.
If you have questions about state park volunteerism and National Public Lands Day, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Volunteer with Friends Groups
Friends Groups are local nonprofit organizations that support public lands. Many Friends Groups lead volunteer events to restore parks, green spaces and community gardens. Learn more about the over 200 Friends Groups that participated in National Public Lands Day 2012 and how you can get involved.
NPLD Supports Let’s Move Outside
Participating in NPLD is a great way to get the recommended 60 minutes of daily activity, while you lend a hand for public lands. Learn more about Let’s Move Outside and how NPLD is involved in the national movement.