State recreation officials today announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of September at state parks and recreation areas throughout southwestern Michigan. Becoming a volunteer for the workdays is a great way for campers, park users and area residents to Go Get Outdoors in a nearby state park, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get some exercise – all while enjoying the scenery.

Activities vary by park and include invasive shrub removal, mapping and invasive herbaceous plant pulling. Some plants, such as barberry and privet, were once planted as common landscape plants and now threaten to change the habitats of birds and other species. Volunteers will learn to identify these plants and make a big impact by properly removing them from natural areas. Native seed collection for plantings will also begin this month at select parks. No experience is necessary and training and equipment are provided.

Dates, times and locations of group workdays are as follows:

  • Saturday, Sept. 8 – P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 9 – Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 15 – Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 16 – Ionia State Recreation Area (Ionia County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 22 – Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 23 – Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 29 – Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 30 – Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County); 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work (including long pants and sturdy, closed-toed shoes) and bring gloves and drinking water. All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the Department of Natural Resources’ website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851, ext. 147 or email freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the volunteer steward workdays.

The volunteer steward program is part of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to “preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.” Workdays are held each weekend at select parks in Southwest Michigan. To get information about the activities at each workday, find directions or park information or check the Volunteer Steward calendar of events, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.

More outdoor fun and exercise is available through the DNR’s Recreation 101 program, which provides expert instruction to budding outdoor enthusiasts by offering free, hands-on training in over 100 different activities. Learn about participating or becoming an instructor, at www.michigan.gov/rec101. The DNR also offers ongoing nature programming; check out the schedule at www.michigan.gov/natureprograms.

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. By checking “YES” for the $10 Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate through the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at www.expresssos.com or at branch offices), Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches. In addition, Recreation Passport holders can experience real savings at businesses and retailers that participate in the Passport Perks discount program. The Recreation Passport is valid until the next license plate renewal date. Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore.

Learn more about this creative way of sustaining Michigan’s outdoor recreation and natural resources at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport. For information on Passport Perks shopping discounts or how businesses and retailers can enroll in the program, visit www.michigan.gov/passportperks.

Logo courtesy MIDNR

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