Join in the effort to 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 April, which include opportunities to celebrate Earth Day and Global Youth Service Week throughout Southwestern Michigan state 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 are needed to help map locations and remove garlic mustard, an invasive, non-native plant that grows in the forest understory. Removal is similar to weeding a garden and is an enjoyable way to spend time outdoors. Registered youth participating on the weekend of April 21-22 will receive a free giveaway to celebrate Earth Day and Global Youth Service. Those earning the most hours for removal of garlic mustard and other invasive species in state parks and recreation areas from April through the end of July will receive a free Recreation Passport T-shirt to show their dedication to our natural resources. Shirts are limited and will be awarded to the top 40 volunteers in Southwest Michigan.
Dates, times and locations of group workdays are as follows:
- Saturday, March 31, 2012; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sunday, April 1, 2012; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, April 7, 2012; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Saturday, April 14, 2012; Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sunday, April 15, 2012; Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, April 21, 2012; Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sunday, Earth Day, April 22, 2012; P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sunday, April 29, 2012; Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, sturdy closed-toe shoes, and bring gloves and drinking water.
Volunteers are also able to work on an individual basis pulling, mapping, and locating garlic mustard populations or as a part of new efforts to track forest health and monitor Eastern box turtle populations. All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or firstname.lastname@example.org for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward workdays or how you can be involved in the Forest Health Watch program or turtle surveys in Southwest Michigan.
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 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.”