Most Saturday afternoons from November through April, Marshlands holds volunteer work projects for those interested in giving back to the Conservancy.
With a very small staff responsible for running all aspects of the sanctuary, we greatly value our volunteers and all the help they give to the land. Saturday projects vary, but usually include trail and grounds maintenance jobs to help protect the habitats and historic structures of the Conservancy.
All ages, including families and teens, are welcomed. Fufill your community service hours while learning more about the history and habitats of Marshlands, enjoying the fresh air, and helping to maintain this beautiful site.
Projects meet at the visitor’s center and start promptly at 1pm, ending at about 3pm. Please bring work gloves if you have your own (we also have some to lend), and dress appropriately for the weather, including work boots or old shoes. In case of rain or snow, call the visitor’s center in the morning for information about cancellations.
Other volunteer opportunities, including more specialized topics, may be available; please call the Curator to discuss these possibilities.
“Step Right...Down? How Marshlands Keeps A Tiny Carbon Footprint”
When asked of the reasons they continue returning to Marshlands, the answers we receive from visitors are always the same: “It’s so quiet and peaceful.” “It’s a nice retreat from the city.” “We like to be outside in the fresh air.” The constant growth of suburbia surrounding Marshlands has not been without the constant use of leaf blowers and lawn mowers. On any given weekend in the warmer months, you’re likely to hear a steady drone from these machines following you into the park. Yet as you step on to the trails, these sounds drift away on the breeze (along, of course, with the carbon dioxide spewing out of the engines of this equipment). Since Marshlands opened to the public in 1972, it has set a precedent for the use of environmentally-friendly clearing and maintenance practices. Rather than using gas-
or electric-powered weed whackers, whenever possible we use muscle-powered versions to clear vegetation. Chainsaws for felling trees are replaced by teamwork and hand saws. Electric trimmers are traded in for hand loppers and clippers. And leaf blowers, while all in their glory elsewhere in Rye, are exchanged instead for good old-fashioned hand rakes. “Carbon footprint” (the impact of human activities on the environment based on the amount of greenhouse gases produced) seems to be the new buzzword of the media lately, and everyone is talking about how to reduce the size of theirs. Yet here at Marshlands, our footprint has never been much more than a smudge, thanks to the weekly work crew. Every Saturday afternoon for two hours, a group of hard-working volunteers comes to help
maintain the park. In 2007 alone, volunteers completed over 700 hours of invaluable service at Marshlands. Volunteers may come and go, but the one thing that has always remained the same is the method with which they do all of their work: by hand. No carbon dioxide or other gases are emitted into the atmosphere, but instead loads of other benefits are reaped. Members of the group develop a strong camaraderie that spans 3 generations. Local students are given an opportunity to receive community service hours on projects where they can see the progress they have made, giving them a sense of pride and satisfaction. America’s struggle with obesity is helped by giving community members the chance to get some fresh air while participating in hard work that makes you feel good both physically and emotionally. A knowledgeable staff member always works alongside the crew to ensure accuracy so that plants we would like to keep are undisturbed. And timing is considered so that nesting birds and turtles remain unharmed. America seems to have become obsessed with the idea of the “perfect” lawn, mowing and blowing it to no end, and laying out pesticides and herbicides to ensure that it remains pristine. 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide (the equivalent of 6.4 million barrels of oil) are emitted into the air every year in the U.S. from leaf blowers alone. At Marshlands, we strive to show our visitors that there is a better way--one that’s good for the environment and us.
The use of quiet, fuel-free hand tools over noisy gas and electric equipment has been a priority since the inception of Marshlands almost 40 years ago. Take a look at the article below to learn more about the volunteer projects and why our choice of tools is so important.
(reprinted from the Friends of Marshlands March 2008 newsletter)