Hundreds of Iowans will be heading to their nearest state park this weekend, not for recreation but to go to work.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is holding its annual statewide Volunteer Day on Saturday. Todd Coffelt, chief of the DNR’s State Parks Bureau, says volunteers will be tackling all sorts of chores to help improve their parks.
“It can be as simple as being a part of the litter pick-up on the trail or the shoreline or it can be something in construction, such as the picnic tables or repairing boards that might be loose on the boardwalk,” Coffelt says. “Or, we have a few parks that are going to be getting rid of some invasive species that don’t belong where they are.”
Coffelt says 46 of Iowa’s state parks are taking part in the day-long effort, 34 of them with lakes. Our parks are an incredibly valuable resource, he says, and tax dollars only go so far in maintaining them. “It is that opportunity for folks that have grown up at a park that have a special memory such as a reunion or a wedding or their first fish,” Coffelt says. “They can see things that need to be done but we’re not always able to get everything done by ourselves. This is an opportunity for folks to answer that question ‘I wonder what can I do to help?'”
He says about a thousand people are expected to volunteer statewide this weekend — and there’s plenty of room for more.
“It’s one of those all-inclusive sort of efforts that if it’s something you want to do, bring your gloves and a garbage bag and make it happen,” Coffelt says. “We don’t say ‘no’ to people that want to help.”
Visit the state DNR website and click on the Volunteer Day banner. It’ll take you to a rundown of state parks where each one lists jobs that need to be done, times and contact information.