Volunteers brave Juneau's weather for work on National Public Lands Day

Chores includes laying gravel, mulching, washing tennis courts

Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2005

The rain may have played a factor in the turnout at Cope Park on Saturday, but it didn't dampen the spirits of those volunteering for National Public Lands Day.

Southeast Alaska Guidance Association and the city of Juneau Parks and Recreation Department teamed up to lay gravel on Christopher Trail, spread mulch around the base of trees to prevent impaction, and power-wash the tennis court at Cope Park.

"The spirit of service brings the community together and makes people appreciate their surroundings more," SAGA volunteer Angel Drobnica said. "And it also brings awareness to public lands."

About a dozen volunteers were at the park covered in rain gear for a typical day of work in Southeast Alaska showers.

"The rain doesn't really affect our work at all. We'll work just as hard whether it's rainy or sunny," Neal Watercutter said.

Event coordinator Mariah Stricker said the rain likely affected the turnout, but said she was still pleased with how many did show up.

"It's a small turnout but we definitely have gotten a lot done, and it starts the ball rolling for next year. And it can become something bigger and bigger as more people learn about it," she said.

Stricker said they enjoyed their time working in the rain.

"I think it's really important because it's a chance for everyone to work together and get to know each other and work next to their neighbor," she said. "They can talk, have casual chatting and just really celebrate something that they share together and work towards it together."

Juneau Parks and Recreation trail ranger Dale Gosmell said National Public Lands Day is important because the land belongs to everyone.

"The event is ... for people to get out and not only enjoy the land but to take care of it," he said. "That's what the SAGA volunteers are doing. They're helping to take care of this little jewel in downtown Juneau."

Floyd Spinner of Juneau Parks and Recreation said volunteering is just one of the many activities that makes Juneau a great community.

"It's just a neat opportunity to get out," he said. "Juneau is special because we've got so much public land. We're completely surrounded by a national forest, a lot of state land, and a lot of city land preserving this gorgeous environment."

Watercutter said volunteering is an important part of any community.

"It keeps the community strong," he said. "When you do stuff like this, then people actually have a community. If you have no one volunteering to do anything, then there is no community."

Another group of volunteers spent the afternoon working at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to better the federal public land in Juneau.

"There are individuals that care about our parks and our trails and they're dedicated and hardworking," Drobnica said.

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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