Greenspace: Own it on National Public Lands Day

September 17, 2018

In the words of Woody Guthrie, this land is your land, this land is my land. Area public land stewards could use your help for National Public Lands Day on Sept. 22.

Volunteers are needed for tasks ranging from invasive species mitigation to seed collecting to litter removal.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has put out a call for Minnesotans to join the annual tradition of public land stewardship at 15 public reserves and parks.

In Olmsted County, Quarry Hill Nature Center, Friends of Indian Heights Park, and Friends of Chester Woods Park are asking for volunteers that day.

Quarry Hill Nature Center volunteers are needed to help remove invasive buckthorn encroaching on a restored oak savanna there.

Restoration of the savanna began about 20 years ago. Much of that work has been to remove and manage invasive species — mostly buckthorn.

“Once it’s in an area, it just kind of takes over,” said Jill Danielsen, program and volunteer coordinator.

Buckthorn is also a thorn in the side at Indian Heights Park. Volunteers are needed there to remove the invasive plant.

Participants are advised to bring work gloves and work boots.

At the Oronoco Scientific and Natural Area, volunteers are needed to help collect native prairie seed there.

At Chester Woods Park, volunteers are also needed for seed collecting. They’ll gather wildflower and prairie seeds to be used for prairie restoration projects across Olmsted county.

Participants on both those projects are advised to wear long pants, long sleeves, boots, hat, and gloves.

Celebrated the fourth Saturday in September, National Public Lands Day is the largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S.

While it might not be the single biggest volunteer effort of the year at most parks, people volunteering are part of a nationwide effort, Danielsen said.

“People everywhere are working on this for the same goals,” she said. “When you think about that, it’s pretty inspiring.”

Volunteers log hundreds of hours at Quarry Hill each year. Those efforts there and in parks around the U.S. help shape them, Danielson said.

“The park would look absolutely different without the work of volunteers,” she said.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has helped coordinate efforts at sites across the state since 2012. Since then, more than 1,000 volunteers have given more than 5,000 hours of their time to help remove invasive species, plant pollinator gardens, protect newly planted trees, and helped with other projects.

To register to volunteer or to find other opportunities, to lend a hand for National Public Lands Day, visit www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org. Registration deadline is Tuesday.

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