The Department of Natural Resources today announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of December as part of the new Volunteer Steward program in southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to GO-Get Outdoors in many state parks, breathe some fresh air, get a bit of exercise, and enjoy beautiful scenery and precious landscapes.

The Volunteer Steward program in Southwest Michigan started in October with native seed collection for prairie restorations. Volunteers can make a big impact in December by removing invasive, non-native shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. Targeted invasive species include: honeysuckle, autumn olive, barberry and Lombardy poplar. Removing them from the landscape will help to protect and restore the unique habitats by improving conditions for native species and restoring ecosystem function. In doing so, volunteers will be benefitting many species, some of which are threatened or endangered, while also learning about invasive species and management hands-on.

Volunteers in need of service credit, such as Conservation Stewards, Master Gardeners, scouts, service clubs and school groups, as well as others interested in conservation are welcome to attend.

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

  • Saturday, Dec. 3 Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 4 Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 10 Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 11 Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 to 4 p.m.

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves and drinking water. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots to enjoy the many trails that traverse through forests, dunes, prairies, fen, and the other unique natural areas protected by our state park system.

The Volunteer Steward program is part of the 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.” For information about the specific tasks at each workday and to obtain directions, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program in Southwest Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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