ALVA, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District invites the public to participate in a day of service at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam Recreation Area near Alva on National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24, from 7:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. Activities include planting close to 3,000 native trees to reforest open land, provide habitat restoration and educational opportunities for the local community.
“We welcome volunteers of all ages to help us plant trees in an effort to reforest roughly 8.5 acres of land to create a natural Hardwood Hammock habitat at the W.P. Franklin Recreation Area as part of our Engineering with Nature Program,” said Col. James Booth, Jacksonville District Commander. This is the first of several opportunities that will be available to members of the local community who would like to volunteer to plant and restore native canopy and understory plants and grasses in an open area at the W.P. Franklin Recreation Area.”
The event will be held at on National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 24, from 7:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. at the W.P. Franklin South Recreation Area, at 1661 S. Franklin Lock Road, Alva, Florida 33920.
Please RSVP to Natural Resources Specialist Rob Hill at 863-800-7680 or Robert.R.Hill@usace.army.mil.
From I-75, take Exit 141 (Highway 80-Ft. Myers/LaBelle). Travel east 2.4 miles past Highway 31 to Old Olga Road. Turn left on Old Olga Road and travel 2.2 miles to the W.P. Franklin Lock Recreation Area entrance road, turn left and follow to recreation area.
From LaBelle, travel west on Highway 80, 5.5 miles past the intersection with Highway 884. Turn right onto Old Olga Road, travel 0.3 miles to the W.P. Franklin Lock Recreation Area entrance road, turn right and follow to recreation area.
“National Public Lands Day is an incredible annual event and this year’s theme is Connecting to Nature through Service. People can get outside and challenge themselves mentally and physically while engaging with members of the community they live in,” said Robert Hill, Natural Resources Specialist. “It’s a great opportunity to contribute to the community, especially for students needing volunteer or community service hours.”
WHAT TO WEAR: Volunteers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes and clothes that are appropriate for digging and getting dirty. Please bring a pair of gloves to protect your hands if you have them. We can provide a pair of gloves if needed.
WHAT TO BRING: We encourage everyone to bring their own shovel or other gardening equipment. Make sure you wear sunscreen, a hat, and any other sun protection you may need. Bring plenty of water and a packed lunch, however water will also be provided.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Come join us for a few hours or for the full day! Tree planting will be held rain or shine. All volunteers are required to review an Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA) and sign volunteer forms prior to the event. On the day of the event, you will be assigned to a team based on which activity you will be helping with. Breaks can be taken whenever needed, and there will be access to shade tents and restrooms.
“The Jacksonville District’s Natural Resources Program started brainstorming ideas on how to reduce the operation and maintenance costs for recreation assets such as those at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam a number of years ago,” said Nelson Colón, Natural Resources Program Manager. “This project is one of those ideas, finally come to fruition: planting native vegetation to reforest an area, reducing the need for mowing, which in turn reduces the use of fossil fuels and saves taxpayer dollars. That’s Engineering with Nature!”
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is excited to welcome the local community in partnering with us in restoring this area of the W.P. Franklin South Recreation facility” said Tammy Cleveland, Deputy Chief, of the South Florida Operations Office in Clewiston. “With the support of the community, this effort will result in facility enhancements that will provide recreational and educational opportunities for years to come. This is the first of several opportunities for the community to come together to transform a large open grassy area that needs constant mowing into a beautiful natural area that provides a diverse habitat for native plants and animals, and shaded trails for local residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Thousands of volunteers nationwide are expected to support the more than 60 USACE projects participating in this year’s National Public Lands Day, the largest annual volunteer hands-on restoration activity of its kind. Last year 4,100 volunteers served 17,000 hours on USACE-managed lands, removing 47,300 pounds of trash, cleaning 434 miles of roadways and shoreline, maintaining 60 miles of trails, improving 503 acres of habitat, and engaging 141 partner organizations.
USACE has been involved with National Public Lands Day since its inception in 1994 and has consistently been one of the event’s largest providers of sites and volunteers. USACE manages more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states. With 90 percent of these projects located within 50 miles of metropolitan areas, USACE sites provide a wide range of safe and affordable outdoor recreation opportunities close to home.