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Helping Hands Needed on Washington's Public Lands

Members of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Association show off their handiwork, built to go over the Dungeness River in Olympic National Forest. Courtesy: U.S. Forest Service
Members of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Association show off their handiwork, built to go over the Dungeness River in Olympic National Forest. Courtesy: U.S. Forest Service
September 24, 2015

SEATTLE – More than two dozen projects on national forests in Washington need volunteers this Saturday for National Public Lands Day.

Much of the work to be done is trail maintenance and cleanup, but there's also some painting and sprucing up of park structures in a few areas.

Public lands are "on duty" each and every day, and they contribute millions to the state's tourism and recreation economy. So, Emily Biesecker, volunteer coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region, says spending one day a year to pitch in on the chores is a bargain - and can be fun.

"There is the need for volunteers in all the resource areas that the Forest Service protects - recreation, wildlife, forestry, fire," says Biesecker. "You name the interest and the ability, and there will be a way for you to volunteer."

People who volunteer this Saturday will receive a coupon for future free admission to a Forest Service site. Information about many of the projects is online at publiclandsday.org.

Biesecker says 15,000 people volunteer in Washington and Oregon, and some make it a tradition, coming back to the same forest or park every year.

Long after National Public Lands Day and the busy season for forests and campgrounds, the volunteer needs continue - and not all require physical labor.

Jocelyn Biro, regional developed-recreation program manager for the Forest Service, describes one person who gives his time as a retired archaeologist and historian.

"He's helping in our office as we speak, cataloging historic documents," says Biro. "So, those things are equally important, as well as getting on the ground and doing trail maintenance."

Biro says anyone can contact their nearest national forest office and ask about individual or group projects, or get referrals to organizations they work with on volunteer projects.

Many state and local parks also are planning weekend events.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA