This is Kelly Sherman, one of the CVAs at the lovely Harpers Ferry National Historical Park reporting on National Public Lands Day (NPLD). Now I know what you’re thinking. National Public Lands day was a month ago (oddly enough exactly one month ago from today), but I’m reporting on how our efforts one month ago are still noticeable today.
On NPLD we had four different jobs for volunteers, english ivy removal, wayside cleaning, park engagement and trail mulching. Volunteers cut english ivy from walls in lower town, sometimes removing it and sometimes just killing it by cutting. Hope, our natural resources intern, and her crew of 13 volunteers removed 6 giant trash bags worth of ivy, and killed even more. When I say these trash bags were giant it’s not an exaggeration; it took two people to carry a bag. Today the area where they removed ivy still looks great. You can really see the structures better, which is important to our park because we’re a historic park, and our general management plan calls for protection of these historic buildings and walls.
Our second team cleaned waysides on Maryland Heights and did a wonderful job. It can be difficult for staff to go and clean waysides, especially ones on Maryland Heights. The hike up and back takes about 4 hours and is both steep and rocky. In short these waysides needed a lot of love. Our volunteers cleaned all the waysides on Maryland Heights in no time, and recorded any that were beyond repair. We later sent a group from NPCA to replace those (If you’re interested you can read about that in my last blog post). National Parks Conservancy Association though were amazed to find that some of the waysides looked brand new, despite the fact that hadn’t been replaced in 40-50 years. This was largely in part to our NPLD volunteers and all their hard work.
Our third team was in charge of engaging the public in Lower Town. Because it was a fee free day in the park there were a lot of visitors. Our volunteers were able to successfully get some people to stop, take a picture and post it to facebook and instagram. It was great advertisement for the park and the volunteers really enjoyed themselves and talking to visitors.
We also had a group mulching our “Civil war to Civil Rights” Trail. I led this group and they were so much fun to have. A report from the National Capital Region came out today stating how many volunteers each park had and how much money worth of work they did and while it was super interesting, it felt impersonal. I don’t know if anyone else does this, but sometimes I’m so focused on hitting the right number of volunteers, and projects that we need to get done, that I see the volunteers as someone to brighten up the park, instead of someone to brighten my day. This group of high school ROTC kids not only brought life back to some eroded trail, but they also brought a little life back to me. They made some crude jokes, raced down the trail with their wheelbarrows and just treated me like a pal instead of some random girl supervising. I would attach a picture of my group, but apparently they all forgot to fill out the photo release form. You win some and you lose some.
I hope all of your Volunteers brighten your day up like mine did!