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Big Events in Greenbelt Park

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Some Greenbelters don’t even know we have a National Park just across Greenbelt Road, with campsites, trails, and more. So for 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, this blog is featuring Greenbelt Park, starting with a Big Events Update.

 

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June 4, 2016 is American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day, the country’s largest celebration of trails. Here in Greenbelt Park, volunteers will gather from around the region to celebrate trails and to help, starting with a trail maintenance project at 9:00 a.m, followed by an “Outdoor Ethics and Leave No Trace” talk at noon.  Click here to pre-register for the trail maintenance project and be eligible for free swag. No skills required

This year National Trails Day activities coincides with living history. A Civil War era encampment will be on display from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Sweetgum Picnic area on June 4th. Musket-firing and artillery demonstrations by volunteer historians will take place at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. To attend the events, just show up. You can also call the Ranger Station at 301-344-3944 for more information.

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The weekend of June 25-26 Greenbelt Park will be hosting a regional Ham Radio group for National Ham Radio Field Day, which this year with special focus on National Parks. Ham radio operators will be broadcasting from the park for two days and honing their skills by contacting similar groups in National Parks across the United States.

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Earlier this month Greenbelt Park attracted over 350 volunteers for Student Conservation Association’s Day of Service, when they performed all sorts of stewardship projects within the park – painting, weeding, pruning, rehabbing the playground, and improving trails. Superintendent Matt Carroll told me their work was a huge benefit to the park. “Anytime you can connect our community with the park is a great thing. We had many first-time visitors over the weekend and look forward to welcoming them back to the park.”

 

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Got a 4th grader? This year the Park Service is offering free passes to parks throughout the U.S. to all 4th-graders. To take advantage of the program, go online to Every Kid in a Park, fill out a form, and print it. Just bring it with you, and the whole family gets free entry to hundreds of parks, forests and other federal sites throughout the U.S. during all of 2016.

UPDATE:

Some Greenbelters have expressed concerns about ticks, etc in the park, so I asked Matt Carroll about this and he responded:

Since arriving at the park last year I’ve taken a deliberate approach to address the tick and chigger issue in Greenbelt.
Our first focus area was educating the public on the state of our park versus the urban legend that ticks are a big problem specifically at Greenbelt.  Greenbelt Park is mainly a woodland forest area that resides in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Ticks are present in every woodland forest from Virginia north to New England.  Going to any park in this region with lots of vegetation, ticks will be a factor for anyone venturing outdoors.  Understanding the risk, how to prevent, and then how to check for ticks after your visit is something everyone should consider before visiting ANY park in the area.  Our ranger staff routinely engages our visitors on their tick concerns.  They walk away more informed of the risk and less concerned about the issue.
Second, we have undertaken significant efforts to remove vegetation, leaf letter and other debris where ticks and chiggers like to hide.  This effort is concentrated in the high-use areas in the park where people are most prevalent and includes our campground, picnic and play areas.  Over the last 12 months, reports of ticks by both visitors and park employees have been dramatically reduced.  One report per month (with increasing park attendance) seems to be the norm.
Another thing for people to consider is to think about the areas they plan to visit in the park.  Our trails are relatively clear of dense vegetation, so exposure to where ticks like to hide should be minimal.  However if you or your pet like to explore off-trail in the forest, chances are greater that a tick (or two) may have joined your trek through the woods.
Third, in the past 3 months we have performed tick collection surveys within the park and campground.  This allows us to verify the effectiveness of our efforts and also identify areas that our maintenance staff needs to focus on.
Between these three efforts we have been and will continue to be successful in reducing the concerns of our visitors while reducing the likelihood that ticks will come into contact with the public.
Follow Susan Harris:
“Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct the nonprofit Good Gardening Videos.org.”

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