Volunteers Who 'Love' Parks Turn Out For Cleanup

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Shrinking budgets and staffs are creating a need for volunteers at local parks to help spruce things up before the busy summer season.

At the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center on Wellesley Island, volunteers helped clean up the center and park, all part of the state's "I Love My Park Day."

"It is a program that we've been doing for many of years and now it's a statewide initiative, " said the center's Kimbrie Cullen.

"We went down to the loading dock and we just got rid of some trash and now we're just raking, getting rid of these leaves," said volunteer Conner Willix of Cub Scout Troop 65.

"We want to preserve and protect the areas that we have for people to enjoy for the generations to come," volunteer Dede Scozzafava said.

Park officials say the need for days like this is growing due to a budget crunch statewide.

"All of this is critical to our mission of providing environmental education with respect to here at the Nature Center," said Kevin Kieff, regional director of Thousand Islands Parks and Recreation.

"We have a very short, small staff here at the Nature Center, so a big initiative like this is very helpful," Cullen said.

Although mostly cosmetic, officials tell us the work at the Nature Center will last the entire summer.

"Our maintenance staff is only here for part of the year," Cullen said. "We have a lot of stuff to do and it's such a small amount of time."

Despite painting, raking, and doing other spruce-up jobs, volunteers tell us they didn't mind the work.

"It was a lot of fun, the weather was great, and just spreading the word of these spaces that are available with the Parks Department and TILT preserves." said Corinne Mockler of the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT).

"Well, it's good for the environment and it's good for the community and stuff," Willix said.

Park officials say a record number of volunteers showed up and officials hope it's paving the way for record attendance numbers all season.

Saturday, November 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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