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CVNP volunteers, hours increase

2/20/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

CVNP — The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced the numbers for the Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) program at Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, which is Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, 6,281 volunteers donated 208,895 hours. This 7 percent increase in volunteers and a 3 percent increase of volunteer hours places the park’s program as third in the country within the NPS in terms of the number of volunteer hours provided to the park, behind Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, according to CVNP officials.

“The contribution that volunteers make to the park goes far beyond numbers. The park’s volunteers impact the quality of park resources, protect cultural resources and visitors, enhance visitor experiences, increase appreciation for the environment and build a community of park stewards,” said Acting Superintendent Paul Stoehr.

CVNP officials added the park’s VIP program continued to increase in scope and scale in FY 13. Overall impacts included 252,400 visitor contacts, 244 trail projects completed and 24 acres of invasive plants removed or treated.  

According to Independent Sector, the leadership network for charities, foundations and corporate giving programs, volunteer time equates to a monetary value of $22.14 per hour at the national level. The work done by CVNP volunteers is equivalent to more than $4.6 million.

“We are grateful to each community member that shares their passion for the park, time and talent to inspire visitors and protect park resources. Volunteers make significant impacts in meeting the park’s mission — and we hear they have fun doing it,” said Lisa Meranti, director of volunteer services.

New developments included 68 new Trailblazers who helped expand the group’s total outreach in providing information, bike maintenance and first aid to 2,661 visitors. New interpretive kits allowed Wildlife Watchers to explain water quality to visitors. A unified internship program was developed that placed 41 interns with various park divisions and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park (the park’s friends group) in summer 2013. Drop-in volunteer projects introduced 92 new volunteers and engaged 207 repeat volunteers throughout May through October in both trail maintenance and habitat restoration.

College students completed major improvements to water drainage and trail surface conditions on a popular trail, as well as building a grow table in the CVNP’s plant nursery during the Alternative Spring Break Weekend. Youth groups and Eagle Scouts performed service learning projects, such as installing a butterfly garden, performing trail maintenance upgrades and removing invasive plants. Adult and corporate groups assisted with various projects, including trails and facility maintenance, habitat restoration and Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad cleaning and painting.

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