The East Central Illinois Master Naturalist (ECIMN) program is fostering National Public Lands Day (NPLD), which will take place on September 24, 2011. Coordinated nationally by the National Environmental Education Foundation, NPLD is an event held annually on the last Saturday in September that promotes shared stewardship for our public lands within the community, the media, and among policy makers. NPLD builds a strong conservation ethic among participants through site-based environmental education and hands on work. 2011 will mark the sixteenth annual NPLD. All types of public lands, from state or county nature preserves to tiny urban parks, are included in NPLD. In 2010, a record 170,000 volunteers participated at more than 2,300 sites coast to coast, making NPLD the largest volunteer, hands-on effort of its kind in the country. Through their efforts, volunteers contributed about $14 million in improvements.
Here in East Central Illinois
Last year, 33 of the NPLD sites were in Illinois but none were in our region. ECIMN Program Committee members have been working through the summer with our partnering agencies foster participation right here in East Central Illinois—this will lead to direct benefits for local sites and instill a sense of pride in linking to the national effort.
ECIMN program is sponsoring an NPLD event at the I-72 Demonstration Prairie, where our members will work with the public to remove invasives, plant more native species, and clean up the area. In addition, we will have tours of the area and provide additional information about the goals of the demonstration prairie. In addition, Grand Prairie Friends will sponsor an event at Loda Cemetery Prairie, Urbana Park District will conduct work at Meadowbrook Park, and Allerton Allies will meet on that day for stewardship at Allerton Park. Additional organizations that are planning events include Champaign Park District at Heritage Park, Champaign County Forest Preserve District at Buffalo Trace, and the University of Illinois Pollinatarium.
Volunteer opportunities include work outdoors and help with planning and logistics for September 24, so there should be a place for everyone. Visit the NPLD web site www.publiclandsday.org for information on each project. Some require advance registration and can accommodate a limited number of participants.Need additional information? Get in touch with ECIMN Program Committee chair Alice Berkson at email@example.com.