Twelve years ago the Environmental Education/Recreation Department at Allegany State Park decided to host a new event –National Public Lands Day (a National Environmental Education Foundation program). It is our nation’s largest one-day event designed to give people a chance to give back to the public lands they use and love by volunteering some of their time. This mission of National Public Lands Day really resonated with park staff.
From its beginnings in 2005 when we thought it was a great idea to have service projects all over our 65,000 acre park, our volunteers have done much to improve Allegany and enhance the visitor experience for park patrons. We quickly got smart and now rotate this event between the Red House and Quaker sides of the park each year. A few of our accomplishments include:
- Creating a two acre butterfly meadow incorporating an Americans with Disabilities Act accessible sensory trail
- Removing invasive plants, (Japanese Honeysuckle and Multiflora Rose) and opening up vistas around Red House Lake
- Installing a hummingbird/butterfly garden in an under-used area in front of the Quaker Museum
- Freshening up many buildings and cabins with new coats of paint
- Maintaining park structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps
- Removing litter –an unglamorous, but to park staff, majorly appreciated task
- Planting new trees
We are immensely grateful for our volunteers and count ourselves fortunate to work with so many great individuals, families, community groups, area high school and college students, and scout troops. They are the driving force that makes National Public Lands Day a success!
According to the Independent Sector (www.independentsector.org), the estimated dollar value for volunteer hours in 2015 was $23.56. That means that the 100 volunteers who turned out for last year’s event contributed a total value of $11,780. That is amazing for a 5 hour workday! A big thank you to all who made this possible!
2016 finds us preparing for our twelfth National Public Lands Day celebration. We are looking forward to seeing our core of “regulars,” and extend an invitation to all Allegany State Park fans interested in caring for this New York State treasure. Please join us! This year’s celebration is on Saturday, September 24th and takes place on the Red House side of the park. Check-in/Registration is from 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. at the Red House Toll Booth. Service projects are from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (please bring a lunch) followed by a barbecue chicken dinner at 4:00 p.m. (for a very nominal charge). We ask that you come dressed for the weather and plan to get dirty. This event will be held rain or shine.
For more information and to pre-register (by September 19th) please contact the Environmental Education/Recreation Department at 716-354-9101 ext. 236 or email Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also gladly accept walk-in volunteers the day of the event.
Hope to see you there!
Please note: There are many other volunteer events taking place in our state parks around the state. Please visit our Events Calendar to search for opportunities near you.
Post by Heidi Tschopp, Allegany State Park Educator