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Contact: Tessy Shirakawa, 970-529-4628
Mesa Verde NP, CO - All National Park Service sites, including Mesa Verde National Park, will offer free visitor admission on Saturday, September 29 for National Public Lands Day (NPLD).
In recognition of NPLD, entrance fees and commercial tour fees will be waived at Mesa Verde National Park. Fees for ranger-guided cliff dwelling tours and campground fees will not be waived.
Free entry passes issued at Mesa Verde National Park on NPLD to commercial tour operators will be valid only for that individual tour. Free entry passes issued to single visit entries issued on NPLD will be valid for one day only. Receipts are only valid for Saturday, September 29.
In addition to waiving entrance fees, national parks and other public lands will host special programs and volunteer work parties to commemorate the 14th annual event. At Mesa Verde National Park, volunteers will assist the park’s Vegetation Management Program by removing invasive plants. Volunteer work crews will mechanically remove houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale) in Morefield Campground, and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) from archeological sites on Wetherill Mesa.
The houndstongue is an invasive species, native to Europe. It has tongue shaped leaves, with a hairy, rough texture that feels like a dog’s tongue, hence its name. The seed pods are quite distinctive, and covered with velcro-like barbs that allow them to easily stick to fur and clothing, which is how they spread. To brake the cycle, plants must be physically removed during the flowering or seed formation stages.
Cheatgrass originated in Eurasia and came to North America in the 1890’s. By 1920, cheatgrass had invaded the semi-arid grasslands and open pinyon-juniper woodlands on the Colorado Plateau. Post-fire environments encourage rapid growth of cheatgrass as evidenced on Wetherill Mesa after the 2000 Pony Fire. The dry grass is highly flammable, and allows fires to start and spread with frightening speed. This behavior endangers archeological sites that are surrounded by cheatgrass. The invasion of cheatgrass often opens the door for secondary invaders such as knapweed and thistle.
This volunteer event is open to people of all ages but it is limited to 15 people and spots are filling rapidly. Park staff will provide tools and work gloves. Volunteers will need to provide their own close-toed shoes, long pants, leather gloves, water bottles, snack and lunch, hat and sunscreen, rain gear and a daypack. For more information or to sign up for this event at Mesa Verde please contact Tammi Corchero at 970-529-4627, or by email.
Anyone who volunteers on NPLD will receive a free one day pass valid for future use at any National Park Service site. “America’s public lands showcase the country’s spectacular beauty and fascinating history,” said National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of this fee free day to explore a national park or lend a hand to help the land.”
Nine federal agencies, 125 state and local partners, dozens of non-profit organizations, tens of thousands of individuals, and national sponsor Toyota Motor Sales, USA are expected to participate in more than a thousand volunteer projects across the country. Please visit http://www.publiclandsday.org for more information about NPLD.
One third of the land in the United States has been set aside as open space. Six hundred million acres of parks, refuges, forests, wetlands, cultural sites, and other shared areas provide a variety of public resources.
National Public Lands Day is the only time that entrance fees are waived systematically on public lands throughout the country. Normally, 147 of the country’s 391 National Park Service sites charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25. The other 244 areas do not have entrance fees. U.S. Veterans are admitted to national parks for free each year on Veteran’s Day.
The other federal agencies not charging for admittance on NPLD include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service.