October 4, 2008

Volunteer to Clean Up Public Lands Today


Check out publiclandsday.org/ involved/sites.htm for a list of scheduled events.

Our IDEA: Celebrate National Public Lands Day by removing trash, debris; enjoy free entry at federal parks

Today is the 15th Annual National Public Lands Day. This is worth noting for two reasons:

* First, it's a chance to participate in a volunteer effort to remove trash, plant trees and work on trails. More than 120,000 volunteers are expected to participate at 1,500 sites nationwide, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, who chairs the House Subcommmittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

For instance, one nearby volunteer service project today is a debris cleanup along the international border in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, southwest of Tucson.

* Second, fees are waived today at any federal public park. The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Forest Service are among the federal agencies participating.

For Tucsonans' pleasure, this means admission is free today to Sabino Canyon, Mt. Lemmon, Madera Canyon, Tumacacori National Historical Park, Saguaro National Park and the Casa Grande Ruins Monument.

Our idea is that helping to clean up some of our treasured public lands would be a great way to spend an early autumn Saturday - and you can do so without paying any of the usual fees. Or simply get out and take advantage of the fee waiver to enjoy Southern Arizona's incomparable outdoors.

Last year during National Public Lands Day, 110,000 volunteers removed more than 50,000 pounds of trash, helped build and maintain more than 720 miles of trails and planted more than 55,000 trees, according to Grijalva's office.

It's worth noting that today also marks the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps, launched by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, during the Great Depression. The CCC gave jobs to unemployed young people building roads, trails, fences, ranger stations, fire lookout houses, bridges, dams and much more.

This would be a good day to go see some of their work. Visit Lemmon Rock Lookout House at the top of Mt. Lemmon, which the CCC built and, for a time, manned. Or go see the Patagonia Ranger Station, just northeast of Patagonia, another CCC project. The bridges over Sabino Creek and the Sabino Dam were constructed by the CCC, along with workers from the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA).

It's a legacy worth preserving. You could help.

Originally published by SARAH TROTTO, ARIZONA DAILY STAR.

(c) 2008 Arizona Daily Star. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.