The last weekend in September is a great time to visit an Indiana state park or reservoir, with National Public Lands Day activities on Saturday, Sept. 27, and free admission on Sunday, Sept. 28.
National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands.
Volunteer opportunities at Indiana state park and reservoir properties Sept. 27 include collecting wild prairie seeds for resowing on DNR properties, construction projects, gardening and trail cleanup.
At the Brookville-Whitewater complex, many projects for individual volunteers or groups (like families or scouts) are listed: litter cleanup on trails or in public areas (including Adopt-A-Ramp); lakeshore cleanup; tree planting; trail maintenance (and Adopt-A-Trail) or mapping; campground or nature center host; naturalist aide/activity aide; flower bed maintenance; wildlife surveys; invasive species removal/control; structure maintenance (painting, carpentry work); building of bird feeders, birdhouses and bat boxes; dispersal of salt blocks for wildlife; building of fish attractors; nuisance goose control; maintenance of hunter check-in boxes; maintenance of property signs; presentation of a program: outdoor skills (camping, paddling, outdoor ethics, outdoor safety), swimming lessons, musical or dramatic (storytelling) entertainment, cooking, art/crafting, history, science, hunter safety/education. To volunteer, persons may call 765-647-2657.
At Versailles State Park, projects are suggested for individual volunteers: maintaining bird viewing area (fountain upkeep, feeder repairs, cleaning glass); keeping trailhead boxes stocked with maps; updating sign inventory in sign shop at beach house; exotic plant removal; organizing/taking inventory of all interpretive handouts; cleaning bluebird boxes; picking up loose ground litter throughout park; cleaning out fire rings and picnic grills.
Projects a family can do: cleaning interpretive kiosk panels; checking trail signs for proper location and condition; checking for nails on all boardwalks, bridges, stairs; exotic plant removal; trash pickup at lake parking lots, shelters, trails and pool parking lo; passing out program schedules to campers; sorting stored recyclables; cleaning nature center.
Projects a group (like scouts) can do: carrying broken picnic tables from lakeside; walking roadsides for trash; trash pickup in other areas; placing rip-rap in eroded areas; straightening all split rails and road chevrons; exotic plant removal; assisting with trail maintenance, erosion control, tree/brush removal and signage. To volunteer, persons may call 812-689-6424.
But National Public Lands Day isn’t all work and no play. Properties will also be offering hikes, pioneer activities, crafts and live bird shows. National Public Lands Day activities for Indiana state parks and reservoirs are posted at StateParks.IN.gov/2443.htm.
National Public Lands Day is also a great time to support your local Indiana state park or reservoir by joining its friends group. Friends groups support DNR properties by helping with events, working on trails, and fundraising for projects, equipment, supplies and materials.
Many friends groups will hold events or membership drives Sept. 27. “National Public Lands Day is a great day to get out and see what many of these groups are doing,” said Jody Heaston, volunteer coordinator for Indiana State Parks & Reservoirs. “The groups are always looking for new members.”
Volunteer opportunities and fun activities will continue at many properties Sept. 28, when admission to state parks and reservoirs is free.
National Public Lands Day is one of four times when Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs focus on volunteer and giving opportunities. Volunteers are welcome all the time, but the other days in which service and giving are emphasized are Giving Tuesday (Dec. 2), Martin Luther King National Day of Service (Jan. 19, 2015) and National Volunteer Week (April 12-18, 2015).
In 2013, volunteers contributed nearly 90,000 hours of service across the state.
For property-specific information on volunteer opportunities, fall programs and special event weekends, persons may click on InterpretiveServices.IN.gov or call the specific property.
More information on National Public Lands Day is offered at PublicLandsDay.org.