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National Public Lands Day (NPLD) was September 24th, but I’m sure you all (CVAs) know it! It was a huge media push for the National Park Service and NPLD’s sponsor, the National Environmental Education Fund (NEEF), among other media partners.

While it was still balmy during the event (nearing mid-90s by 11 am), we were able to get a total of about 40 volunteers out on the day of the event, with 25 in the West district pulling an invasive species (Buffelgrass) and 15 in the East district on trail maintenance.

(I could write a novel about Buffelgrass’s effect on the Sonoran desert, but I’ll save that for another day.)

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Thanks to the REI Co-op, who helped gather lots of non-traditional volunteers by sending out invitations through their monthly newsletter, the event turned out to be full-out awesome. REI brought chapstick, t-shirts and other swag for volunteers. They also brought so much ENTHUSIASM which is always-needed when pulling stubborn grasses in the hot sun.

Saguaro National Park is so so lucky to be near an urban center with a local REI Co-op who is willing and ready to engage the community in public service. And to encourage those volunteers to show up at the park bright and early, around sunrise. I recommend to CVAs looking to network for a more diverse volunteer base to reach out to environmentally-minded businesses and organizations that can help spread the word.

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Thanks to all who helped beat back buffelgrass and clear our trails on National Public Lands Day!