Thursday, July 30, 2009

Student Conservation Association Interns Maintain Parks, Essex County, New Jersey

Newark students maintain parks, learn about environment

Thirty high school students, most of them from Newark, New Jersey, maintain parks throughout Essex County as part of a summer internship program run by the Student Conservation Association. Among their many goals, the interns are working to re-route hiking trails, fix erosion and drainage problems, perform tree maintenance, and remove invasive species.

Friday, July 10, 2009

San Diego River Clean-Up, Mission Valley, California

The San Diego River Park Foundation's Clean & Green Team saw 216 volunteers turnout for their June 27th cleanup at the California Fish & Game's Preserve in Mission Valley. The volunteers collected 5,000lbs of trash and an assortment of recyclables materials that included 13 tires and 4 cubic yards of mixed recyclables like: aluminum cans, bottles, and cardboard; and several bags containers with oil products and aerosol cans. Unique items found at this cleanup were: a large blow-up swimming pool, a mattress and box spring set, empty propane tank and barbeque grill. This area of the river is in a dense urban setting. This event was co-sponsored by Pepsi, I Love A Clean San Diego, the Union Bank of California, California Fish & Game, and REI.

Also, at their June 13th Cleanup at the Mission Valley Preserve’s Cottonwood Grove site they had 83 volunteers turnout, and they helped remove 4,700 pounds of trash.

To date, 41,300 pounds (or 20.65 Tons) of trash have been removed from this watershed since October 2008. Wow!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Catch a Special Thrill (CAST) Fishing/ Take Pride in America Event at Sarge Hubbard Pond, Yakima, Washington

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation hosted a CAST /Take Pride in America Event on June 20, 2009 at Sarge Hubbard Pond in Yakima, Washington. The purpose of CAST events is to provide disabled and disadvantaged children to enjoy a quality outdoor recreational experience fishing on the water. The day of fishing went very well. There were 21 children who participated and quite a few fish were caught. In addition, everyone enjoyed the BBQ lunch that was prepared by Reclamation’s Yakima Area Office employees.

To top it all off, an exciting awards ceremony was held at the end with all of the participants receiving a plaque, certificate and fun pack filled with educational and fun items.

There were 35 volunteers which included three individuals from a local agency of adults with disabilities. These individuals were very excited and thrilled to be useful at such an important event. They contributed to the food preparation, security and safety, and as a fishing buddy.

10th Annual CAST For Kids Event Splashes Down at Shasta Lake, Shasta Lake City, California

On Saturday, June 13th, 2009, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation/Northern California Area Office in partnership with the C.A.S.T. For Kids Foundation and Take pride in America, held its 10th annual CAST for Kids event on Shasta Lake, in beautiful Northern California. Thirty-nine happy, special kids headed out on the water on what ended up being a picture perfect day. While sunny blue skies and spring-like temperatures ended up greeting the excited anglers, the night before was a much different story. One of the regions summer storms, bringing wind, rain, and lightning, blew through as event organizers were setting up, giving some concern about how the weather would affect the turnout. By the time the storm came through, a third of an inch of rain fell, and wind blew over some of the shade tents. But that was no match for the excitement of the day, as the eager group of boaters, kids and volunteers showed up bright and early, ready to take on the task at hand: fishing beautiful Shasta Lake!

Boaters from local bass clubs, some as far away as Red Bluff, came to take special needs kids out to share their passion for the sport of fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. The day started with registration and a visit from the California Highway Patrol with their sidekick Chipper. A brief boating safety talk was given by Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies while the group ate a light breakfast, after which our group was eager to hit the lake and catch the big ones. Launching 32 boats was made smooth with the help of several Reclamation employees who pitched in to help make it all happen.

When the group returned from their morning of fishing, they were welcomed by Smokey Bear from the US Forest Service and a big BBQ lunch cooked up by the Redding Elks Lodge with food provided by many local businesses. As lunch was eaten, and fish stories shared, you could just see the fondness that had developed between these special kids and their fishing mentors. It’s hard to tell who had more fun- the kids or the volunteers who took them out!

As the day ended, each child was given a plaque to commemorate the day, along with a goody bag full of donated items from the local community. As the group started to leave, there were lots of hugs, smiles, and promises to “see ya’ next year!”

“I just wanted to say a big ‘Thank You’, remarked Sherrie Brooks, one of the parents. “This was the first year our eight-year-old son Brad participated in CAST For Kids. It was fantastic! My husband and son had a wonderful time on one of the pontoon boats; they learned more about fishing and enjoyed being in the great outdoors on Shasta Lake. I was very impressed with the organization of the event. It far exceeded our expectations. We look forward to next year. What a great program for kids with special needs. Thanks once again”.

When it comes down to it…that’s what it is all about!