Joey Negreann – Pinnacles National Park
Designated as a federal holiday in 1983, MLK Jr. Day honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through service. It is a special holiday because it is the only federal holiday recognized as a National Day of Service. This is highlighted by the tag line “Make it a day on, not a day off”. Citizens are encouraged to get involved locally and work toward Dr. King’s vision of creating a beloved community. Sixty volunteers heeded this call and joined Pinnacles National Park for service projects last Monday. This was the first time that Pinnacles National Park has hosted an event on this day and the response from the local community was remarkable.
The project commenced at 9am as volunteers gathered to learn about the projects and hear words of inspiration from the volunteer coordinators. The projects consisted of native seed planting, flood preparedness, and litter abatement along the trails.
The seed planting group mostly consisted of members of the Pinnacles Service Youth Crew (PSYC). PSYC, a new youth program started last year, provides service opportunities once a month at Pinnacles National Park. Seed planting was done near the East Entrance Visitor Center in a field where non-native grasses have been prevalent. The effort was aimed at restoring Foothill Needle Grass, a native perennial bunch grass. Many of the volunteers expressed their excitement to come back and see the impact their efforts would have. Due to the rains this year, they may be able to see some of the grass poking their heads through the soil soon. They were even rewarded with the sight of a Californian Condor soaring over the work sight.
Pinnacles National Park is also working to prepare for the rains that El-Nino can bring. The last El-Nino that caused major damage was in 1998. Six inches of rain fell overnight causing major flooding throughout the park. Those floods washed out the West Side Campground, the road leading to Balconies Caves, and the Chalone Creek Bridge. On MLK Jr. Day volunteers helped fill over 200 sandbags. These sandbags will be put to good use in the event of another major rainfall. If you doubted how much fun filling sandbags can be one of the volunteers was overheard joyfully exclaiming that “this is the party project”.
Volunteers also took the party to the trails. San Benito High School students and boy scouts hiked 10 miles of trails cleaning up about 20 pounds of litter and other debris along the way.
Pinnacles National Park staff appreciates all those volunteers who participated in hundreds of projects across the nation on MLK Jr. Day. A special thank you to those who “Made it a day on” at Pinnacles National Park!