Volunteers vital to keeping park at its peak
Upper Perk science students, under the direction of Jim Coffey and Mike Tirjan, dig holes and plant 100 native trees and bushes at Green Lane Park April 23.
Dan Moyer is a busy guy. The technology teacher at Marlborough Elementary has an active family life with two young children. He coaches Little League baseball and is a fundraising organizer/supporter of Upper Perks Relay for Life. But he still finds time to do what he loves – mountain biking.
And along with that hobby comes another cause near and dear to his heart – volunteering at Green Lane Park.
Moyer, who takes to the park’s 25 miles of trails with his brother, Darron, can sometimes be found there several nights a week. But he said he wouldn’t be doing his part without working to keep up the park and the trails he loves traversing.
“Our community has a gem back there and a lot of people don’t realize it,” Moyer said. “They don’t realize how nice our park and the trails are.”
The 36-year-old Green Lane resident and his brother said they started volunteering shortly after the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. What they saw on a bike ride that weekend spurred them to action.
“It was decimated, back off Ward Road and in other spots,” Dan Moyer said. “Trees were down everywhere. We were off our bikes 90 percent of the time. We thought there was no way the park staff would be able to take care of all this with their funding cuts and the fact that they lost staff.”
So Moyer contacted the park’s volunteer coordinator, Montgomery County Parks Region 2 Manager Rich Wood. Wood coordinated the brothers’ efforts with those of park staff and they went to work cleaning up downed trees and branches, building up eroded areas and fixing consistently wet areas with diversion drains.
Moyer said while they volunteer for workdays a couple times each year, the majority of their efforts take place on those weekly bike rides, as the brothers take in the sights and the smells of Green Lane’s blue trail, which winds its way through the woods in the area of Ward and Hill roads.
And they often times take their kids along for the ride.
“Our goal is to be out there mountain biking,” he said. “But there’s work to do, too. That’s one of the main reasons we started doing this. We want the trails and the park to be there in the future for not only us, but for our kids.”
Armed with a small array of tools, the families look for low-hanging branches, loose rocks and ruts in need of attention.
“It benefits everybody to get things like sticks and rocks off the trail right away,” Moyer explained, noting hikers, equestrians and bikers can all pitch in here and there to make the trails safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
And Moyer isn’t alone. Green Lane, which spans more than 3,400 acres with three bodies of water – Deep Creek and Knight lakes and the Green Lane Reservoir, relies on the efforts of volunteers for a multitude of reasons.
“Volunteers are a critical part of our operations,” said Wood. “With parks all over the country facing decreased budgets, volunteers fill a gap that would otherwise be difficult to keep up with. Most of our volunteers have a passion for the park, a facility in the park they like to use, like trails, or simply the natural environment. They turn that passion into hands-on action to help us maintain certain areas or make improvements that benefit many park visitors.”
Jim Coffey and his environmental science classes at Upper Perk High School have been pitching in with community service projects in the Upper Perk watershed since 1991. Last month, Coffey and science teacher Mike Tirjan took approximately 40 students to Green Lane Park and planted 100 native trees and shrubs.
Those trees and shrubs will aid the park’s initiative to cut back on water runoff, along with a reduction in mowing in selected locations. Visitors will notice the trees, which were staked and tubed to prevent wildlife damage, around Deep Creek Lake.
The work was made possible by a $1,700 Tree Vitalize grant from Aqua Pa.
“Students love to participate in projects that make a difference for the future and help the environment,” Coffey said, noting stewardship is a big theme in the school’s environmental science curriculum.
“It’s absolutely great to have the volunteers out there,” said project liaison Kevin Crilley of Green Lane Park. “It’s a neat way for the kids to get out of the classroom and into the community.”
Members of the Montgomery County Equine Council also contribute their time and resources to the park. In addition to pruning, picking up trash on a routine basis, and donating money for things like stone and signage, they will take to the trails the first Saturday in June for a work day in celebration of National Trails Day.
Carol Bowe of Harleysville rides the trails at least once a week with her horse, an All-American Morgan named Jed.
“The horse community and local horse people are out there on the trails all the time,” said Bowe, a board member on the county and state equine councils. “The atmosphere is really nice at Green Lane. It’s one of the nicest parks with its rolling hills and forestry.
“We coordinate with the park to help keep the trails open for everyone. We encourage people to keep the trails open for their use. Come out and support your local park.”
Wood said the park is always in need of volunteers. At Green Lane, dedicated volunteers lead environmental education programs, assist in running the park’s larger events and maintain trails. Volunteers have also recently organized cleanups along the neighboring Perkiomen Trail and Eagle Scouts have built bridges, benches, bat boxes and horseshoe pits, all services which complement what the park has to offer.
For more information on volunteering at Green Lane Park, call Rich Wood at (610)287-6970.