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Volunteers needed for Public Lands Day events


September 19, 2010
The Army Corps of Engineers, local trails committees and conservation commissions are looking for volunteers to help clear and clean trails throughout the area.

The National Environmental Education Foundation is holding its annual National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 25. The day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends with a pizza lunch at noon. Trail beautification projects will be happening throughout the region, giving people a host of options to participate.

"The purpose behind this event is to build community support for trail progress," said Tom Chamberland, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "It is very rare to talk to a person who doesn't like trails. Everybody likes trails, but it takes working together to get them into shape."

Chamberland said National Public Lands Day first started more than 20 years ago. Locally, volunteers have gathered for a morning of work for more than 10 years. In the past, when people have come out to help, the results have been great, Chamberland said. Last year volunteers around the country removed an estimated 900,000 pounds of trash, collected an estimated 20,000 pounds of invasive plants, built and maintained an around 1,320 miles of trails and planted roughly 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants. All told, volunteers contributed an estimated $14 million to improve public lands across the country.

In order to have the same impact this year, Chamberland said they need volunteers to step forward and lend a hand. Anyone can come help out and both individuals and groups are welcome. Chamberland said he has been trying to get local schools, environmentally conscious groups and organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to get on board. All volunteers are encouraged to dress appropriately for working outdoors and to bring a pair of work gloves. Tools will be provided and safety instructions on how to use them properly will be given.

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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