Volunteers sought to clean up state parks

Volunteers are being sought to show their appreciation for state parks by lending a hand with cleaning, planting and other chores in preparation for the summer season.

 The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on Thursday announced it is organizing its first State Parks Appreciation Day on May 17, seeking volunteers to work at about 20 parks. Among parks that will be part of the event are Rocky Neck in East Lyme, Gillette Castle in East Haddam and Lyme, and Harkness Memorial in Waterford.

 The parks chosen for the event are among the most popular and have some of the greatest cleanup needs, DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said. Several have friends groups that are working with DEEP on the event. It is part of the state’s celebration of the centennial of the founding of the state parks system.

 “On State Parks Appreciation Day, volunteers will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and help our park staff with everything from painting, gardening and landscaping, to trail maintenance and general cleanup,” Robert Klee, DEEP commissioner, said in a news release.

 At Rocky Neck, volunteers will prepare and rake campsites, sweep sand off the boardwalk, clean windows in the pavilion and clean cigarette butts off the beach. At Gillette Castle, crews will do maintenance on the 4.5 miles of trails there.

 At Harkness, volunteers will work with the Friends of Harkness and the MG Car Club to prepare and plant the historic garden beds.

 A list of all the state parks participating and information on work that will be done at each can be found at www.ct.gov/deep/stateparksappreciationday. Information on how to sign up to volunteer can also be found there.

 Schain said scout groups and other organizations are welcome to contact DEEP about participating in the event.

 The state park system, which began in 1913 and 1914, includes 107 parks. For more information on the parks and the centennial, visit www.ct.gov/deep/stateparks100.

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