BLUE MARSH LAKE (April 18, 2016) – More than three hundred volunteers participated in the 35th annual Take Pride in Blue Marsh Day on April 16 in Leesport, Pa. Volunteers worked on a variety of projects, including litter clean-up, nature trail maintenance, guiderail construction, bridge construction and tree planting.
Take Pride Day is an important Blue Marsh Lake tradition as volunteers are mobilized across the entire property to help with maintenance projects. The Blue Marsh Lake volunteer program traces its roots back to the Keep America Beautiful and Take Pride in America campaigns, which encourage the public and organizations to get involved in the stewardship of public lands, waters and parks.
“This is a very popular activity for the community - people start contacting us in October and November to get this date on their calendar,” said Scott Sunderland, Natural Resource Manager for Blue Marsh Lake. “Our staff really enjoys interacting with the public and this is one way in which the public gives back to the staff and to the park. They are letting us know how much they appreciate Blue Marsh Lake.”
Volunteers represent every generation and many different groups, including the Scouts, local schools, universities, churches and youth organizations. Some volunteers have been participating in the program for decades.
Norm Flam said he began volunteering 35 years ago with his parents when he was only 15 years old.
“Once I got old enough and strong enough to help, I began working on some of the bridge projects and trail clearing projects,” said Flam. “It’s been a great experience and there’s such strong camaraderie with this group. And there are construction projects I will now take on in my daily life from the things I’ve learned here.”
Flam and his group worked on one of the more complex projects of Take Pride Day: removing and demolishing a 20-year old trail bridge and erecting a new bridge in its place.
Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, his wife Cheria, and son Brandon assisted with the demo of the old bridge.
“It’s my second year participating in Take Pride Day at Blue Marsh,” said Bliss. “The people here care about Blue Marsh as a resource and you can see the benefits that come out of this – having a better recreation facility and park. It’s a pleasure to be a part of this.”
Sunderland said participants accomplished more than 1750 hours of work during the 2016 Take Pride Day. Volunteers picked up 86 bags of trash which filled 3 dumpsters; planted 5000 seedlings; erected a new bridge; placed a guiderail; constructed and painted picnic tables; brushed two miles of trail; rehabbed a paddle craft boat launch; and spread 30 yards of mulch.
At noon, participants enjoyed a cook-out made possible by donations from local businesses.