Prepare for Spring with MetroParks programs


Sometimes nature needs a helping hand…and MetroParks volunteers step up to the job.

By Lauren Lemons

Parks have power. Beyond providing greenspace where people can create a personal connection with nature, parks have the ability to boost property values and can positively affect community and environmental health. Five Rivers MetroParks recognizes the important role it plays in enhancing community wellness through conservation and access to greenspace and invites you to join in on the efforts to protect these spaces.

“While we can’t deploy a conservation team to build a bubble around Montgomery County that protects our habitats and greenspaces from the worldwide effects of things like climate change, on a micro level, we can keep habitats thriving in our parks and conservation areas,” said MetroParks conservation manager, Mary Klunk. “These healthy habitats have greater implications for the health of our communities. There can be a ripple effect.”

Leaving MetroParks’ 16,000 acres of natural spaces untouched would leave them open to the negative effects of things like emerald ash borer, invasive plant growth, and more. In order to mitigate this, MetroParks’ Parks & Conservation team works to maintain balanced ecosystems that allow for local habitats and wildlife to flourish.

Thriving forests and habitats mean cleaner air, water, and a happier, healthier local environment. These accessible greenspaces also provide an important venue for people to retreat to the outdoors and experience nature through hiking, cycling, paddling, and general exploration.

An activity many can get behind, conservation is something people can learn more about through Five Rivers MetroParks volunteer opportunities and programs, and then put their newly learned skills into everyday practice at home and in their communities.

Get Involved
April is National Volunteer Month and it is a great time to get involved in initiatives that keep local parks and habitats beautiful, clean, and safe. MetroParks largest annual day of service, Adopt-a-Park, is hosted in April each year. Thousands of volunteers gather at dozens of sites across Montgomery County to clean and beautify area parks and rivers. While Adopt-a-Park registration ends on April 6, there are many chances to make an impact year-round, from planting trees to removing invasive plant species.

“There’s integral work that needs to be done to help our greenspaces, and it simply can’t all be completed without help from dedicated volunteers,” said MetroParks volunteer services manager Kevin Kepler.

MetroParks also hosts Make a Difference Day each October, which is another chance for the greater Dayton community to help MetroParks with important projects within the parks. Make a Difference Day is a nationwide celebration of service during which organizations host events that engage local volunteers. Mark your calendar for these events and many more opportunities by visiting MetroParks.org/Make-A-Difference/Volunteer.

MetroParks also provides programs for those of all ages who wish to learn more about conservation practices. From adults who want to learn about pollinator planting to children interested in reforestation, each season MetroParks offers a variety of hands-on, educational programs that expand conservation knowledge and get people actively engaged in habitat-friendly practices. Visit MetroParks.org/Programs to learn more about program offerings.

“When you provide people with the tools and knowledge to create a better environment, you give them an opportunity to adopt a lifestyle and mindset that is more environmentally conscience,” Klunk says. “It may start with someone taking a program about pollinators, and then designating a space in their garden for milkweed to
attract butterflies.”

Indeed, there are ways that people can have an impact and give back to the environment in their personal lives. Here are a few tips to live more sustainably and have a positive effect on your local environment:

Start composting
Composting kitchen scraps not only helps cut down on waste, if done correctly it can provide rich nutrients for your garden. To learn more about composting keep an eye out for MetroParks’ free Compost Kitchen programs offered each season.

Think about yard waste
If you collect yard waste just to toss it into a large plastic garbage bag, rethink your landscaping game. A thin layer of leaves is beneficial to your yard and little critters like salamanders, chipmunks, and various invertebrate species. Much yard waste can also be composted and used for feed your yard and gardens.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Visit your city or county website to learn about curbside recycling options in your area. In Montgomery County, basic recycling is made easy through a comingled curbside program. Glass containers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, paper, and unsoiled cardboard boxes are all able to be recycled at home, while plastic bags can be collected and recycled at your local grocer.

More ways to reduce
— Keep household temperatures to a moderate range, with a maximum of 68 degrees during the heating season and minimum of 75 during the cooling season.
— Consider using power strips to shut off entertainment centers when not in use
— Use human-powered transportation (biking, running, walking) when possible
— Opt for tap water instead of bottled. Thanks to the Great Miami Buried
Valley Aquifer, the Dayton region has great drinking water! Save money while
reducing bottle waste.

To learn more about all the ways you can get involved with conservation and sustainability efforts at Five Rivers MetroParks, visit MetroParks.org.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Lauren Lemons at LaurenLemons@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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