National Public Lands Day marked

Jeff Phillips Staff Writer

September 30, 2013

They came as individuals or groups and joined together to help spruce up around Martins Fork Lake on Saturday during National Public Lands Day.

Some participants picked up litter, while others painted playgrounds, tables and gazebos and cleared trails to make them safer for visitors.

While some volunteers were fulfilling community service requirements for organizations they participate in, others came just to help out and enjoy the early fall weather and scenery.

“Most people want to come up and spend a day at the lake to make it pretty for everyone else,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Martins Fork Lake Resource Manager Dave Robinson.

Robinson said National Public Lands Day is an annual program celebrated across the nation and sponsored by the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Held the last Saturday of September each year, the goal of the program is to celebrate public lands through beautification projects, said Robinson.

Volunteers perform beautification projects “to help us do the things we can’t normally do,” he said.

Robinson said he finds that “for the most part, people keep this place pretty clean. They tend to respect what we have here.”

Cadets from the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy were shuttled by boat to the back of the lake to work on clearing the Cumberland Shadow Trail. Sgt. Jamie Causey said the cadets filled holes, removed brush, rock and debris to make the trail safer for visitors.

He said in addition to performing community service and learning about work ethic, the cadets were treated to a lesson in nature. The leaders and cadets admitted they were glad to be outdoors and out of the academy’s building at Grays Knob to take part in Saturday’s effort.

Martins Fork Lake logs an average of 180,000 visits per year, with 90 percent of the visitor base being in Harlan County.

Among the groups registering were Cub Scout Pack 149, Girl Scout Pack 1206, Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy, Boy Scout Troop 149, Harlan County High School JROTC and numerous individuals.

Contributions from various local businesses and organizations helped fund the event.

Reach Jeff Phillips at jphillips@civitasmedia.com