News Story Archive

Volunteers observe National Public Lands Day at Albuquerque District lakes

USACE-Albuquerque District public affairs
Published Sept. 30, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Volunteers participated in events at several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Albuquerque District lakes in observance of National Public Lands Day, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the largest annual volunteer hands-on restoration activity of its kind. It began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers and became a yearly tradition.

In 2020, 2,400 volunteers served 8,300 hours on USACE-managed lands, removing 16,000 pounds of trash, cleaning 369 miles of roadways and shoreline, maintaining 44 miles of trails, improving 76 acres of habitat, and engaging 65 partner organizations.



Volunteers and Abiquiu Lake park rangers stand next to a bat house they installed during the National Public Lands Day event at Abiquiu Lake, N.M., Sept. 25, 2021. A total of eight bat houses were installed during the event.








Thirty-two volunteers showed up for the 2021 NPLD event at Abiquiu Lake. Along with the Abiquiu Lake staff, they accomplished a variety of tasks in order to improve habitat, clean up public spaces, and improve natural resources around the project.

Volunteers and park rangers rehabilitated pollinator gardens with new plants. Fresh paint was applied to five picnic shelters in the Rio Chama Recreation Area. Eight bat houses in total at four locations were installed, creating shelter for potentially thousands of bats. And 19 large tires were removed by the volunteers cleaning up the shoreline.

Abiquiu staff and volunteers remove trash from the lake during the National Public Lands Day event, N.M., Sept. 25, 2021. In total, 19 large tires were removed.

Volunteers apply fresh paint to picnic shelters, during the National Public Lands Day event at Abiquiu Lake, N.M., Sept. 25, 2021







Thirty-five volunteers came out to Cochiti Lake to participate in a variety of projects. The volunteers cleaned 2 miles of shoreline, maintained trails, restored and improved habitat, planted 20 trees, removed invasive species, and installed 20 bird and bat boxes.



Approximately 25 people spent 100 volunteer hours at Santa Rosa Lake for 2021’s NPLD event. The main focus was liter pick-up.



John Martin park ranger Holly Garnett uses a chain-saw to cut dead tamarisk so it can be hauled away, during the National Public Lands Day event at the reservoir, Sept. 25, 2021.










Volunteers and staff at John Martin Reservoir focused on removing dead tamarisk from the reservoir’s South Shore. Also called salt cedar, tamarisk is an invasive shrub found throughout the project. The reservoir shoreline has the highest density of tamarisk in the entire state of Colorado. In addition to crowding out native plant species, tamarisk provides poor habitat for wildlife such as the federally threatened Piping Plover and reduces shore-line access for recreationists.

Five volunteers assisted in removing cut tamarisk, including Colorado State Senator Cleave Simpson and his wife Cathy. After the cut limbs were chipped, there was a total of 4,454 pounds of tamarisk removed from the project.

Colorado State Senator Simpson and his wife load cut tamarisk limbs into the truck bed for future wood chipping during the National Public Lands Day event at John Martin, Sept. 25, 2021.









The woodchipper made short work of the cut tamarisk limbs that were removed during the National Public Lands Day event at John Martin Reservoir, Sept. 25, 2021.








John Martin park rangers have an ongoing effort to remove tamarisk, improve wildlife habitat, and increase shoreline access at the reservoir.



Completion of a native plant pollinator garden in the office parking lot’s center island was the main focus of Trinidad Lake’s NPLD event. USACE staff collaborated with the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society and the Trinidad Community Foundation to get this garden completed.

The Arkansas Valley Audubon Society donated the trees and shrubs planted in the pollinator garden.









With a diversity of trees, shrubs, grasses, and forbs, as well as a dedicated volunteer base, the sustainable and environmentally-friendly interpretive area is ready for years to come.

Volunteers and staff stand next to the completed pollinator garden and interpretive sign at Trinidad Lake, Sept. 25, 2021.