More than 80 volunteers scoured Fort DeRussy park and beach berm Sept. 9, picking up trash and clearing debris as part of this year's National Public Lands Day celebrations.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Regional Visitor Center coordinated the event and was attended by Honolulu District Commander Lt. Col. James Hoyman, Deputy District Commander Tom Piazze, Junior Reserve Officers Training Course (JROTC) students from Punahou High School and other local schools led by Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert Takao, commander of the JROTC at Punahou High School, employees of AECOM, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from Troop 127 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, as well as Corps employees and friends.
National Public Lands Day is the largest annual volunteer hands-on restoration activity of its kind. Activities include clean up, repair, construction, refurbishment and other volunteer events in public parks, forests, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and cultural and historic sites. National Public Lands Day participation will involve more than 170,000 volunteers at more than 2,000 sites nationwide.
“This is a great opportunity for our students to give back to the community,” said Lt. Col. Robert Takao, commander of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Punahou High School. “Our program has been doing this for many years and it’s about our future. It’s really our way of giving back to this great land and state we live in,” Takao said.
“We continue our efforts to educate the public on the importance of preserving and improving our precious natural and cultural treasures,” said Samantha Vazquez, Park Ranger from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Pacific Regional Visitor Center.
The morning started with about 30 JROTC students scrambling over rocks, and climbing into crevices to clean up the beach berm.
“Our school is an environmentally-committed school and this is a natural follow-up to make students aware of the practical applications,” said Takao.
Thousands of volunteers are expected to support the more than 76 USACE projects participating in this year’s National Public Lands Day, the largest annual volunteer hands-on restoration activity of its kind. Volunteers at USACE sites are taking part in tree planting, erosion control, bank stabilization, building trails, restoring recreation areas, trash pickup, removing invasive species and non-native plants, improving wildlife habitats, harvesting prairie plant seeds and rehabilitating playgrounds.
Last year, more than 6,000 volunteers participated in National Public Lands Day activities at 72 USACE lakes. The volunteers cleaned 285 miles of shoreline, maintained 105 miles of trails, removed 59,000 pounds of trash, and planted approximately 400 trees and shrubs on USACE-managed lands.
USACE has been involved with National Public Lands Day since its inception in 1994 and has consistently been one of the event’s largest providers of sites and volunteers. USACE manages more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states. With 90 percent of these projects located within 50 miles of metropolitan areas, USACE sites provide a wide range of safe and affordable outdoor recreation opportunities close to home.
For more information on National Public Lands Day or to find events near you, visit http://www.publiclandsday.org/ or call your local USACE lake or river office. For more information on USACE recreation opportunities visit www.CorpsLakes.us.