National Public Lands Day

On September 28, I arrived at Coldwater in time to see the rosy-fingered dawn. National Public Lands Day is a huge volunteer event that takes place on public lands throughout the country. At Coldwater Spring, our preparations for NPLD started on Thursday morning. The Coldwater Crew, led by Jim and Alan, pruned the roots of the Burr and Pin Oaks, Hackberry and Ironwood trees. Root pruning the trees will help prevent the roots from girdling. Girdling happens when roots begin to grow around the main stem of the tree and cut off water and nutrients. Root pruning is important because we want the trees to live to a ripe old age.

Now that National Public Lands Day was here, with clouds in the sky threatening rain, I distributed planting materials thinking it looked like a great day to plant. A cool morning with overcast skies was kind to our volunteers and trees alike. Perhaps inspired by the impending rain, volunteers were speedy about getting all of the trees and shrubs planted. The team I led had a self-declared digger and several people who brought trees, compost, water, and mulch to our worksite. They efficiently worked together to quickly dig a hole, place the tree correctly, fill the hole with dirt and compost, and mulch around the tree, all while adhering to a precise watering scheme. Then they’d begin again with another tree. Their motivation and dedication to
improving Coldwater Spring was inspiring.

 I wonder if the volunteers realize all of the ways their planting work benefits Coldwater Spring. Trees and shrubs create important habitat for birds and mammals to nest, forage for nuts and berries, and hunt for insects. Other advantages of having these woody plants are aesthetic. The shrubs play an important role in reducing noise pollution from the highway. The sounds of cars zooming past will be lost so that the buzzing of insects and the chattering of birds can be heard. The work of volunteers makes Coldwater Spring a better park in so many ways.

On behalf of the Mississippi River Fund and all of the wildlife, thanks for all your help, volunteers!