On National Public Lands Day, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, over 100,000 volunteers will be involved in service projects at over 1,000 sites on public lands across the U.S. How will you spend this very special day? At the USDA Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, there will be five morning volunteer restoration activities, an afternoon Fall Colors Interpretive Hike and a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating Midewin as a site in the new Illinois & Michigan Canal bike-share program.

5 Volunteer Restoration Activities

The day will begin at the River Road Seedbeds (“P3” parking area) at 8 a.m. with photos with Woodsy Owl and morning refreshments.

From 8:30-12:30, volunteers, staff and partners will lead the following volunteer activities:

  1. Harvest seeds at the River Road Seedbeds (great for all ages; this is a more manicured seed production site with mowed rows)
  2. Salvage native plants for later relocation (requires walking to seek out plants, bending and shallow digging for bulbs)
  3. Cut invasive brush at a special prairie remnant (best for ages 10+; requires lopping/dragging brush to a pile; licensed herbicide appliers will be applying herbicides to cut stumps)
  4. Cut invasive brush and clear woody debris to protect a historic farmstead (best for ages 10+; requires lopping and/or dragging brush to a pile or truck bed)
  5. Collect aquatic insects to learn about water quality (requires working on shore or wading in a stream; requires ability to swim; please inform us of your size for rubber boots)

To register for the volunteer activities, email: [email protected].

Volunteers will receive a souvenir bandana, a free entrance coupon for national public lands, and a free raffle ticket for prizes from The Wetlands Initiative and The Nature Conservancy.

Illinois & Michigan Canal Bike Share program

Midewin is a site in the exciting new I & M Canal Bike Share program. At 1 p.m., we will gather at the new bike rack at the Iron Bridge Trailhead for a ribbon-cutting. The first 50 guests to the ribbon-cutting will receive a free commemorative t-shirt, and everyone will receive an I & M Canal souvenir pin and a coupon to try out the bike share program. Please RSVP: [email protected].

Fall Colors Interpretive Hike

Immediately following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, at approximately 1:30 p.m., explore the fall colors with other prairie enthusiasts on a one-hour-long guided interpretive fall colors hike through the magnificent asters, bottle gentian, stunning goldenrod and more. Go inside the splendid display of autumn colors of prairie Oaks, grasses, sedges and blooms when they are right at their peak. Immerse yourself in the wonderment of fall on the prairie and learn about the magical tallgrass color transformations. To register for the Fall Colors Hike, please call: (815) 423-6370.

National Public Lands Day is the largest hands-on volunteer effort in the nation to improve and protect our public lands. #ItsAllYours! Learn more about the overall impact of National Public Lands Day online: https://www.neefusa.org/npld.