• 61°

Volunteers clean up at West Point Lake for National Public Lands Day

WEST POINT LAKE — More than 200 people took part in Saturday’s Public Lands Day celebration on West Point Lake. They did such chores as picking up many bags of trash along the shoreline at Pyne Road Park, Holiday Park and the approaches to the Highway 109 bridge. Scout troops and middle school students from Troup County and the surrounding area enjoyed taking part in such learning tasks as building fish attractors and owl boxes.

“These are environmental stewardship projects,” said Danielle Clark, a park ranger for the West Point Project. “They built around 120 fish attractors and 20 owl boxes. We will be placing them on the project lands throughout the winter season. It’s been a really good day. We have had groups of all ages helping us.”

Those who pre-registered for Public Lands Day participation could camp for free at any of 112 sites at the Holiday campground.

At noon on Saturday, there was a long line waiting to be served at the Kee Kee Pavilion on the south end of Holiday Park. Some employees of the Wendy’s on Lafayette Parkway in LaGrange were there feeding everyone their choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger or chicken sandwich along with chips and chili. The Lafayette Parkway franchise is owned by Matt Van Paepeghen, who has a home on West Point Lake and supports activities hosted by the West Point Project. He’s been serving free meals on Public Lands Day for approximately 15 years.

National Public Lands Day takes place each year on the final Saturday in September. A signature event of the National Environmental Education Foundation, Public Lands Day promotes both popular enjoyment and volunteer conservation of public lands.

Three federal agencies and 700 volunteers launched the first National Public Lands Day in 1994. By 2010, participation had grown to 170,000 volunteers at more than 2,000 sites across the U.S. In addition to Public Lands Day being a free-fee day at many federally managed lands, volunteers who take part in it are treated to events such as free overnight camping at Holiday Park.

On Public Lands Day in 2008, over 1 million trees were planted to mark the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps.