Volunteers Invited to Take Part in Habitat Restoration at State Parks and Recreation Areas in Southwest Michigan


Join in the effort to Go Get Outdoors and protect critical dune, prairie and forest habitats stretching from Berrien to Muskegon Counties! State recreation officials announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of February as part of the new Volunteer Steward program inSouthwestern Michiganstate parks and recreation areas.  Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to GO-Get Outdoors in many of our cherished state parks, breathe some fresh air, have fun and get a bit of exercise while enjoying beautiful scenery and precious landscapes.

Volunteers can make a big impact 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 benefiting 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, February 4; Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry Co.), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  •          Sunday, February 5; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo Co.), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  •          Saturday, February 11; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo Co.), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  •          Sunday, February 12; Muskegon State Park (Muskegon Co.), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  •          Saturday, February 18; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon Co.), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  •          Sunday, February 19; Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry Co.), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  •          Saturday, February 25; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien Co.), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  •          Sunday, February 26; Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan Co.), 1 p.m. 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 MichiganState Parksfor this and future generations.” For information about the activities at each workday, find directions or park information and to 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.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website.  Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or [email protected] for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program inSouthwest Michigan.

The Recreation Passport has replaced motor vehicle permits for entry intoMichiganstate parks, recreation areas and state-administered boating access fee sites. This new way to fund Michigan’s outdoor recreation opportunities also helps to preserve state forest campgrounds, trails, and historic and cultural sites in state parks, and provides park development grants to local communities.

Michiganresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($10 for motor vehicles; $5 for motorcycles) by checking “YES” on their license plate renewal forms, or at any state park or recreation area. Nonresident motor vehicles must still display a valid nonresident Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) to enter a Michiganstate park, recreation area or state-administered boating access fee site; these can be purchased at any state park or recreation area, or through the Michigane-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. To learn more about the Recreation Passport, visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport or call 517-241-7275.

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