Even though a few rain squalls blew through the area, the weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the many neighborhood volunteers who gathered to celebrate National Public Lands Day (NPLD) on September 28 at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. Approximately 100 people showed up to help plant shrubs and plugs, pick up litter, collect native prairie seeds, and make seed “bombs” that will be used at the sanctuary and other Saint Paul Parks.
NPLD is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. It began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. It proved to be a huge success and became an annual tradition, typically held on the last Saturday in September. In 2012, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,206 sites in every state, making it the largest NPLD in the history of the event. NLDP’s goals are to educate Americans about the environment and natural resources and the need for shared stewardship of these valued, irreplaceable lands.
This year’s event at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary was organized by Tracy Sides, owner of bravely be and winner of the Saint Paul Foundation’s Forever Saint Paul challenge. Other partners included Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Friends of the Mississippi River, the Lower Phalen Creek Project, Eureka Recycling, the Saint Paul Garden Club, Flat Earth Brewing Company, My Inner Kitchen, the Swede Hollow Café, Mississippi Market, Volunteer Transport, Ward 6 Food & Drink, and Rogers Printing Services.
Volunteers spent the morning in teams working on improvement projects at the sanctuary. They were rewarded with a fresh lunch prepared by My Inner Kitchen, keg root beer supplied by Flat Earth Brewing Company, and music supplied by the Arborators. It was a great day to share in stewardship of the park—and we look forward to celebrating another National Public Lands Day next year!