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September 26 is National Public Lands day, and your local national park could use your volunteer help! National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. Last year 120,000 volunteers worked in over 1,800 locations and in every state including right here in Indiana.
Volunteers who help on National Public Land’s Day will receive a coupon for a free one day visit to any participating federal agency including the National Park Service. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore does not charge an entrance fee. The coupon is the National Park Service’s way of saying thank you and is valid until September 24, 2010 and can be used to visit a national park or other participating federal site that does have a fee.
Want to make a difference for a rare habitat? Indiana has less than one-half of one percent of the original tall grass prairie that made the plains famous. Mnoke Prairie, a tall grass prairie found in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is being invaded by a silent army of plants. You can help stop invasive plants in their tracks and collect native prairie plant seeds which will be grown in our greenhouse and planted in the prairie next year. Wear long pants, long sleeves and your favorite sun bonnet to help restore this now rare habitat. Meet at the Little Calumet River Trail parking lot on Howe Road. Or in the same attire come on out with a ranger to Cowles bog a National Natural Landmark, that is not really a bog, but a fen, want to know the difference? Come out and help that habitat so the view you see next summer is the same view that Henry Cowles saw when he came to this area to do is ground breaking studies. Meet at the south Cowles Bog parking lot, near US Highway 12. Families are welcome to come and help with a beach clean-up from Mt. Baldy to Central Beach. Meet at the Mt. Baldy parking lot off of US Highway 12 near Michigan City. Children under 18 must bring their parents along to help too. Or roll up your sleeves, and help make the Dunewood Campground, on US Highway 12 and Broadway in Beverly Shores, a more comfy place to spend the night. Meet at Dunewood Campground walk-in campsites, near the pile of mulch.
All tools will be provided and work projects being at 9:00a.m. So we know how many tools to bring, please sign up with Lynda Lancaster at 219-395-1682, e-mail Lynda_Lancaster@nps.gov. For those looking for something less strenuous, enjoy a leisurely self-guided hike into Pinhook Bog. Rangers stationed along the floating boardwalk trail will point out carnivorous plants and “evergreens” that shed their needles each fall. Directions to find the bog on Wozinak Road in LaPorte County can be found on our website at www. nps.gov/indu. The trail will be open from 12:00p.m. to 3:00p.m. but you must start your exploration by 2:00p.m.
To celebrate volunteering in national parks, preview Ken Burns’ new documentary National Parks: America’s Best Idea at 1:00 p.m. at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center. This program will feature a 45-minute preview to the full six part series which will air on public television stations starting Sunday, September 27, 2009. Be inspired by the stories of the areas, like Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, that became America’s national treasures.
At 2:00p.m. ParKids will tell you the Untold Stories of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This summer a group of student volunteers ventured out to find and film the untold stories of this national park. The students and their families will be there to tell how they spent their summer vacation in a multi-media format.
Can’t make it to the morning’s volunteer activities? Find out how you can help this national park year-round at the volunteer fair. From 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m., volunteers and park staff will be on hand at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center to answer questions about being a National Park Service Volunteer, and you can find out ways you can help your local national park. You can also find out how you can help the Dunes Learning Center, a residential environmental education center in the heart of the National Lakeshore.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 391 units of the National Park System ranging form Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie inn the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/INDU.