Volunteers can help protect southwest Michigan state parks and recreation areas

From DNR reports

The Department of Natural Resources invites Michigan residents to get out and enjoy state parks and recreation areas in southwest Michigan and help protect habitat. DNR recreation officials today announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship activities for the month of August at southwest Michigan state parks and recreation areas.

Volunteering for these workdays is a great way for campers, park users and all outdoor enthusiasts to GO-Get Outdoors in many of Michigan’s 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 remove invasive, non-native shrub and herbaceous species that negatively impact forests and other systems. Some of these plants, such as barberry and privet, were once planted as a common landscape plant and now threaten to change habitat for birds and other species. Herbaceous species, such as spotted knapweed, will also be removed to protect critical dune habitat. Volunteers will learn to identify these plants and make a big impact by properly removing them from natural areas.

No experience is necessary, and training and equipment is provided. Activities are great for scout groups, youth groups and community service organizations.

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

Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants and sturdy closed-toe shoes, and bring gloves and drinking water. All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the DNR’s volunteer stewardship workdays Web page. For registration or questions about the volunteer stewardship workdays in Southwest Michigan, contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851, ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov.

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. For information about the activities at each workday, to find directions or park information, or to check the Volunteer Steward program calendar of events, visit the DNR website at michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.”

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