National Public Lands day will be Sept. 28, which will give residents a chance to help with the work the Natural Resources Management crew does year round.
“Natural Resources Management takes care of the natural eco-system and wildlife population,” said Drew Sprafke, regional parks supervisor. “The also do things like native plant restoration and work on water quality.”
Riparian and wetland restoration, controlled burns, construction and maintenance of soft surface trails and natural resources mapping of weeds, wildlife and trails also fall under the purview of natural resources management.
The city’s recent efforts to remove Russian olive trees along the lower Bear Creek watershed from Bear Creek Lake Park to the South Platte are part of the management work.
Sprafke said there are different kinds of natural areas, from recreation zones, which are mainly used by humans, to sensitive use zones that are mainly for wildlife, and should only have a little human access.
In Lakewood, there are around 6,000 acres that need maintenance, according to Erik Nilsen, natural resources specialist with Lakewood.
Nilsen is more or less the only member of the city’s management crew, with the exception of a couple seasonal hires during the summer.
“We strive to keep these natural areas in a pre-European settler state, before the invasive species and changes they brought occurred,” Nilsen said. “We have these little islands surrounded by people, and we need to find the balance point in the eco-system.”
On days like National Trails Day and National Public Lands Day, Nilsen gets some much needed help from volunteers, who make a huge difference in getting work done.
“One of the biggest issues we face is noxious weeds, which come into these natural areas and take over,” he said. “They drive wildlife away, and cause other problems.”
For information about how to participate in National Parks Day, visit www.lakewood.org.