As part of an on-going tradition, members of the Oregon Military Department (OMD) Army National Guard and the Biak Training Center will conduct a variety of National Public Lands Day (NPLD) activities on or near lands the military leases for training from the Prineville District BLM.
"Although the OMD works year-round to maintain and improve the 43,000 acres of land they lease," said Captain James Rejzek, Biak Training Center Manager, "National Public Lands Day provides an opportunity to organize a large cleanup event on lands we share with the local community." Although small projects will occur over the next several weeks, the OMD anticipates having their main public lands day event on October 26, to meet scheduling needs.
Oregon Army National Guard members will work with youth from the Oregon Youth Challenge Program and the Boy Scouts to pick up trash and other materials that have been dumped along the canals east of the Redmond Airport and at the Redmond Caves site west of the airport.
"Unfortunately, the easy access to these areas makes them targets for illegal tire and trash dumping, partying, and transient camping," said Molly Brown, Prineville BLM Field Manager. "The presence of the Oregon Military Department in this area is a real benefit to the BLM, and their willingness to take on cleanups, as well as restoration projects, in these sites, is a valuable aspect of our partnership, and one that helps maintain and improve the lands used by our communities."
National Public Lands Day not only provides the OMD with an opportunity to look after the lands they use for training, but it also provides an chance to educate youth and volunteers about land stewardship, and an occasion to give back to the local communities that support them.
"Over the past 5 years in cooperation with the BLM, the Oregon Youth Challenge Program and the Biak Training Center, we have recovered over 20,000 pounds of trash," commented Capt. Rejzek. "We have helped install numerous educational kiosks, removed old fencing and helped keep our public lands sustainable for the future."
National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. In 2012, NPLD will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29, although individual events will be held as scheduling allows.
NPLD began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. It proved to be a huge success and NPLD became a yearly tradition, typically held on the last Saturday in September. Since the first NPLD, the event has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2011, more than 170,000 volunteers worked at 2,067 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories.
In Central Oregon, the Prineville District BLM has celebrated NPLD with trail restoration and rehabilitation projects, weed pulls, trash/dump cleanups, and graffiti removal projects, and has been supported by hundreds of members of our local communities.