National Public Lands Day Volunteer Event - September 26, 2009
National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve America's public lands. This year, Mammoth Cave National Park, along with the entire National Park Service, is participating in this volunteer effort in conjunction with the release of the new Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, premiering on Public Broadcasting System stations throughout the country on Sunday, September 27, 2009. Together, these two events will reconnect the nation to the rich heritage and beauty represented by America’s national parks.
This year, on September 26, Mammoth Cave's National Public Lands Day event is also a part of the National Parks America Tour sponsored by Unilever Corporation. The National Parks America Tour is a volunteer-driven initiative designed to engage employees, community groups, school children, scouts and citizens of all ages in volunteer service-to-the-land activities in America's National Parks. With more than 25 events each year, National Parks America Tour volunteers assist by providing the essential manpower necessary to complete priority park improvement projects. Since 1999, the National Parks America Tour has donated more than 250,000 volunteer hours to the National Park Service, resulting in an in-kind manpower donation of $4.25 million.
Mammoth Cave National Park's National Public Lands Day volunteer effort will focus on the eradication of invasive plant species from the park, and will build on a month-long series of similar efforts by diverse teams of NPS employees and volunteers:
“We have assembled an army of National Park Service staff and volunteers to attack these insidious plants,” said park Superintendent Patrick Reed. “Tree of heaven, kudzu, lespedeza, princess tree—we fight these species constantly. In recognition of National Public Lands Day and Invasive Plant Awareness month and National Public Lands Day, we are declaring war.”
Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear’s proclamation declaring September as Invasive Plant Awareness month states in part:
“…Kentucky has regularly dealt with the presence of unwanted invasive plants that are not native to the state and that through their aggressive nature pose a genuine danger to the well-being of the natural areas, wildlands, farm lands, parks and recreation areas, managed forests, and home landscapes of the Commonwealth…”
"Invasive species" are those that have been brought to the United States from other countries for varied reasons such as livestock feed, erosion control, and landscaping. These invaders may adapt well to local soils and climate, especially in the absence of the foreign animals who would otherwise eat them. They may become more prolific here than in their homeland, driving out native plants and depriving native animals of food and shelter—and they can be extremely hard to get rid of.