National Public Lands Day was first held in 1994 with three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. The event is now hosted by the National Environmental Education Foundation, each year on the last Saturday in September. Nationally in 2014 over 2000 individual sites were registered to participate. Minnesota, Master Naturalist co-sponsored 10 sites across the state. Each site had a different activity to be accomplished.
At Itasca State Park, volunteers bud capped approximately 23 acres of red, white, and jack pine seedlings near the north entrance to the park and around the Mary Gibbs Headwaters Center. Participating in the crew were, 68 people, including 2 DNR staff, 4 Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers, 49 students at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and 13 members of the UMC faculty, staff, or their affiliates.
Picture: Bud capping crew at Itasca State Park
In Rochester, Master Naturalist hosted two locations. Volunteers at Indian Heights Park worked on buckthorn removal. Volunteers at Chester Woods County Park hosted a crew who hand collected prairie seed.
Metro sites included Crow Hassan Park, where volunteers hand collected prairie seeds; and Carver Park, where volunteers removed woods invasives, mostly bittersweet and buckthorn. Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge site volunteers removed invasives and worked on site prep for a pollinator planting. Afton State Park had a crew working native seed collection and buckthorn removal. William Berry Woods hosted a buckthorn bust.
Picture: Volunteers learn about bullsnakes from Naturalist John Moriarity
Master Naturalist volunteers at Lake Vermillion State Park/Soudan Underground Mine State Park worked on a timber stand improvement project. This included GPS locating trees and bud capping seedlings for winter protection.
Northland Arboretum volunteers worked on removing Japanese Knotweed and cleaning up the memorial garden and Scout garden areas.
National Public Lands Day was coordinated and sponsored by the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program that provided lunch and a t-shirt to all participants. The University of Minnesota provided transportation for the students and faculty from Crookston. There were 10 sites across Minnesota that participated in the event and hosted 186 volunteers who recorded 781 hours of volunteer service valued at $18,986.