Citizen stewardship and volunteerism are two very important aspects in keeping New England District projects maintained and looking beautiful. Although this takes place many times throughout the year, it is most concentrated during National Public Lands Day. Every year a call goes out to local residents asking that they come help celebrate their local public lands by performing cleanup work and improvement projects. Every year the call is answered by hundreds of volunteers who aren't afraid to get a little dirty.
Several New England District Flood Risk Management projects celebrated National Public Lands Day -- West Hill, Hodges Village and Buffumville Dams in Massachusetts and Black Rock Lake in Connecticut. National Public Lands Day is the nation's single largest volunteer event that focuses on the care and stewardship of all public lands.
West Hill held its event on Sept. 20 -- the week before Buffumville and Hodges Village so the projects could share team leaders and equipment. Work this year at West Hill Park/Dam included a butterfly/pollinator garden upgrade at the dam site (main dike) with a bench; a fishing access pathway to the inlet channel and brush removal; spreading playground surface material, annual maintenance and aeration; Kestrel and bluebird boxes annual cleaning; brush removal grassland habitat; applying sealant to park bridge railings, planter boxes and benches at the park; annual maintenance of the beach glider swing; seal wood and replace stone dust beneath swings; upgrade the park butterfly garden; annual maintenance of the Woodland Trail; clear water bars, seal bridge deck and brush removal. About 183 volunteers came out for the West Hill event, saving the government approximately $24,540.
Buffumville Lake and Hodges Village Dam once again hosted a large scale event Sept. 27. This year marked Buffumville's 23rd anniversary hosting a National Public Lands Day event. Approximately 112 District team members and volunteers of all ages turned out to lend a hand in completing all scheduled projects for the day.
Projects included trail blazing and trash clean-up at Hodges Village; trash cleanup along Oxford Road at Buffumville; removing invasive species; painting the main stairs in Buffumville Park; wire brushing and painting grills in the park; Island work- fire pit and moving an outhouse at Buffumville Lake; building/installing privacy enclosure for a port-o-john; replacing stair tread and repairing fences at Buffumville Park. Efforts by participants resulted in a savings of $9,561.20 in labor costs.
Black Rock Lake hosted a Girl Scout Troop that came to do its annual maintenance of the butterfly garden.
According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, NPLD began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. It proved to be a huge success and became a yearly tradition, typically held on the last Saturday in September. Since the first NPLD, the event has grown by leaps and bounds. The Foundation states that in 2013, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,237 sites in every state, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.