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Rain or Shine, Montanans Volunteer for Public Lands Day

PHOTO: Volunteers are needed for projects are parks around the state tomorrow for National Public Lands Day. Volunteers will plant trees and shrubs at Milltown State Park in Missoula. Photo courtesy of MT.gov
PHOTO: Volunteers are needed for projects are parks around the state tomorrow for National Public Lands Day. Volunteers will plant trees and shrubs at Milltown State Park in Missoula. Photo courtesy of MT.gov
September 27, 2013

MISSOULA, Mont. - It's the busiest day of the year for volunteers on public lands, and it happens Saturday, National Public Lands Day. Hundreds will be picking up trash, clearing brush from trails, painting signs and fixing fences in Montana.

At the state's newest park, Milltown in Missoula, Montana State Parks' AmeriCorps member Dan Shook said this day of service is valuable. Last year, about 70 people helped plant trees and shrubs, and more of that work is being done this weekend in another section of the park.

"This year, we're doing it actually on the river channel, just above the confluence on the north side of the Clark Fork - in the flood plain down there," Shook said.

Shook has confirmed about 40 volunteers, but more are needed. He said they plan to meet at the park at 11 a.m. There is also an educational component for the day, with historical and environmental events planned at other locations.

Nationwide, about 175,000 people volunteered last year. Shook said parks and refuge entrance fees are waived on Saturday, so even those who do not roll up their sleeves can enjoy these public spaces. Late September weather can be iffy in Montana, so he advised everyone to dress warmly.

"Last year, it was a rainy day, and we still had those 70 people. Saturday looks like it could be sunny," he said. "We're hoping for it."

More than two dozen projects are planned around the state. A list of all Montana National Public Lands Day events is available at www.publiclandsday.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT