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Oklahoma sets National Public Lands Day volunteer events

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Activities for National Public Lands Day will take place at the Wichita Mtns Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and elsewhere throughout the state and country.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- On Saturday, volunteers will descend upon the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma to turn trash into treasure.

At Sheppard Point Public Use Area on Heyburn Lake, experts will highlight pollinators like bees and butterflies and how to help them, while other volunteers paint bat houses at Canton Lake.

All these seemingly separate events are part of the National Public Lands Day event, held nationally Saturday to connect people to public lands in their community, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage use of public lands for education, recreation and general health.

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is connecting the public to projects on public land to help raise awareness about the outdoors, but also to help protect what many consider to be threatened land.

To encourage people to join in and visit their public lands, NPLD is a fee-free day for all federal public lands and many state parks. Volunteer on NPLD can also enjoy boating, hiking, fishing or camping on public land for free on Saturday.

“National Public Lands Day connects people to public lands in their community, inspires environmental stewardship and encourages use of public lands for education, recreation and general health,” says Diane Wood, president of NEEF. “A wonderful thing about the day is that it often draws people out to nearby public lands for the first time, and helps them discover a wonderful green space they can return to and enjoy throughout the year.”


In April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would give him power to designate lands as national monuments, but could also lead to the reshaping of 24 existing national monuments.

The Department of Interior review questions the protected status of dozens of national monuments targeted for reduction, and Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to look 27 monuments by Aug. 25, and determine which ones are too big.

The monuments in question are at least 100,000 acres and were created by former presidents.

The move created an outcry, including a public statement from REI, an outdoor outfitter giant, which said, “We understand that the review will include focus on these lands’ economic value. Just this morning, the industry launched its latest economic impact report, showing the outdoor industry supports 7.6 million sustainable American jobs and nearly $900 billion in consumer spending and $125 billion  in tax revenue. That positive impact extends from our largest cities to the vitality of our rural communities. In that light, we believe there is a compelling case to maintain the integrity of our existing national monuments.”

Zinke, however, seems to disagree with Trump’s move. In his report to the President, which was leaked to The Washington Post on Sept. 18, Secretary Zinke recommended decreasing only four national monuments while leaving all the others standing. He additional asked Trump to designate federal lands that do not fall under the Antiquities Act as monuments as well.


D’Anna Laminack, environmental education specialist and volunteer coordinator at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, said Saturday’s event is the largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands, one that hopefully instills pride and ownership in people who volunteer.

“America’s public lands are home to a wide diversity of unique habitats and wildlife species that depend on them. Wild places and wild things provide people the opportunity to connect with nature and unplug from the daily stresses of everyday life,” she said.

“As the human population increases, so do the strains on natural resources and the wild-lands that are home to the plants and animals that inhabit them. Public lands belong to the American people and we are all responsible for protecting and preserving them for current and future generations.”

The events slated for Public Lands Day in Oklahoma include:

Treasures for Trash

Celebrate National Public Lands Day by participating in environmental stewardship activities and educational programs at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers can help combat litter and the impact on wildlife through educational games about recycling and leave-no- trace methods

The events will begin at 9 a.m. at the Visitor Center for orientation and work group instructions. Volunteers should bring clothes and shoes that can get muddy as well as water bottles and snacks.. Help us combat litter and its impacts on wildlife, while cashing in on fun prizes and participating in educational games about recycling and leave no trace methods.

Meet at the Refuge Visitor Center at 9 a.m. for orientation and work group instructions. Please bring individual water bottles and wear appropriate clothes and shoes - those that can get dirty, wet, and/or muddy. Optional items would be gloves, sunscreen and bug spray.


Volunteers can meet at the Sheppard Point Public Use Area at Heyburn Lake in Bristow to learn about the role of pollinators in the environment and help install mason bee houses. The event will have a speaker to discuss pollinators and how to help them and volunteers are encouraged to stay the whole day and walk the nature trail or other day use activities within the park. For more information, contact Lindsey Cooper with the US Army Corps of Engineers at or 918-865-2621, ext. 713.

Veteran Appreciation Day & Flood Debris Clean Up

Volunteers are asked to help with flood debris clean up at Keystone Lake - Walnut Creek, 1552 County Road 1521 in Prue, followed by a Veterans Appreciation event at Walnut Creek.

The flood debris clean up begins at 11 a.m. followed by the Veterans Appreciation Event at noon. At 1:30, an American Flag Retirement Ceremony will be held followed by an Honor Guard Military Salute at 3:30 p.m.

Representatives from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion will be present and a member of the Corps of Engineers will also be present throughout to provide education on water safety. For more information, contact Matthew Cihaski, United States Army Corps of Engineers - Tulsa District - Keystone Lake Office, at or 918-865- 2621.

Building for Bats!

Volunteers can join a Canton Lake Park Ranger to paint the new bat houses. During the painting, participants will learn about bats and why Canton has chosen to put up these houses for them. All ages of volunteers are welcome and bat themed crafts are scheduled as well. For information, contact Shawna Polen, US Army Corps of Engineers, at or 580-886- 2989.

Cowlington Point Clean Up

This is a trash cleanup event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in a popular fishing area by Cowlington Point Recreation area to help clear out an illegal dumping site. Participants can expect to spend several hours helping Corps Park Rangers and volunteers restore this piece of Public Land. Lunch will be at the Picnic Shelter in Cowlington, followed by a clean up at the fishing area.

Volunteers should bring gloves.

For more information, contact Carly Cooper, US Army Corps of Engineers, at or 918-210- 5204.

For more information on Public Lands Day, go here.

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Heide Brandes

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