ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Volunteers participated in events at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Albuquerque District lakes in observance of National Public Lands Day, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.
NPLD is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. It began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers and became a yearly tradition. Held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, the event brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country.
Last year 4,100 volunteers served 17,000 hours on USACE-managed lands, removing 47,300 pounds of trash, cleaning 434 miles of roadways and shoreline, maintaining 60 miles of trails, improving 503 acres of habitat, and engaging 141 partner organizations.
Abiquiu Lake, New Mexico:
Twelve volunteers and Abiquiu Lake staff completed several work projects on National Public Lands Day, improving recreation facilities and promoting good stewardship of our shared natural resources. Projects included a shoreline cleanup, tree planting replacements, and a new flagpole.
“Although we had a small amount of volunteers this year with a total of 12, each and every one were high quality volunteers that worked hard and allowed us to complete meaningful work projects that will enhance our public lands for years to come,” said John Mueller, Operations Project Manager at Abiquiu Dam.
Cochiti Lake, New Mexico:
The “Project Beautification at Cochiti Lake” event drew 45 volunteers to two sites Cochiti Lake, Sept. 24. Some volunteers worked in the pollinator garden while the others used paddle craft to clean up the lake’s shoreline. At the end of the day, 5 acres of habitat was restored and improved and approximately 300 cubic feet of trash was collected and removed from 15 miles of shoreline. Kayak New Mexico, the Boy Scouts, Adobe Whitewater, and the American Canoe Association all participated.
Conchas Lake, New Mexico:
A clean up event was held at Conchas Lake Sept. 24 resulting in 50 pounds of trash being collected.
John Martin Reservoir, Colorado:
On Sept. 24 and 25, 21 volunteers from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI), and members of the public and four John Martin staff removed invasive tamarisk from approximately 5 acres of the Black Bridge Area of John Martin Reservoir.
The primary goals were to improve access to the rivers and allow native plants to revegetate the site. Volunteers also removed 60 pounds of trash from the area.
After a safety briefing, certified sawyers from VOC and RMFI cut live tamarisk and “swampers” piled the cut limbs for later wood chipping. John Martin staff sprayed the stumps with site-appropriate herbicide to ensure the tamarisk would not resprout. Afterwards, interested volunteers were given a tour of John Martin Dam by park ranger Holly Garnett.
This event was part of a larger multi-year initiative to improve the Black Bridge Recreation Area for residents and visitors.
Tamarisk, also known as salt cedar, is an invasive tree that hogs light, water, and nutrients, which harms native plants and the wildlife that depend on them. At Black Bridge, tamarisk has taken over the grasslands and riverbanks, resulting in less habitat for wildlife and fewer river access points for recreationists. By helping remove tamarisk, volunteers are part of a multi-year effort to encourage native plant growth, improve recreational areas for visitors, and ultimately return the habitat to its natural state.
Trinidad Lake, Colorado:
Trinidad Lake park ranger Kyle Sisco organized a “mountain bike train enhancement project.” He partnered with Trinidad Trails Alliance and 11 volunteers came out to maintain and improve ½ mile of trail at the lake, Sept. 24.