Daily Egyptian

Local wildlife refuge to hold Stewardship Saturdays, looks to preserve Cypress Creek

A+heron+trades+from+one+water+source+to+another+Saturday%2C+March+3%2C+2018%2C+at+the+Cypress+Creek+National+Wildlife+Refuge+near+White+Hill.+%28Cameron+Hupp+%7C+%40CHupp04%29
A heron trades from one water source to another Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge near White Hill. (Cameron Hupp | @CHupp04)

A heron trades from one water source to another Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge near White Hill. (Cameron Hupp | @CHupp04)

Cameron Hupp

Cameron Hupp

A heron trades from one water source to another Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge near White Hill. (Cameron Hupp | @CHupp04)

By Kitt Fresa, Features Editor

Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge will be hosting Stewardship Saturdays in an effort to help plant over 68,000 trees and maintain the wildlife of Cypress Creek.

“What we’re looking at doing is having students, volunteers, community members, landowners, anyone who’s interested to come out and help us with stewardship projects,” Assistant Refuge Manager Liz Jones said.

Jones said the goal is by the end of spring to have planted around 68,000 trees and to help with the overall maintenance of Cypress Creek.

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“It’s not going to help just the community get together but it’s going to help the wildlife. Cleaning up the environment, or planting trees, or pulling out invasive species that are hurting other organisms in the environment, all of that is going to help the wildlife in the area,” Katy Banning, a member of Americorps stationed at Cypress Creek said.

Work to be done will range from tree planting, pollinator planting, pulling out invasive species, debris cleanup, restoring habitats and general maintenance of the public facility.

Stewardship Saturdays will be held each month, March 10, April 14, and May 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Cypress Creek Maintenance Shop located on 2808 Butter Ridge Road, Ullin, IL and to dress appropriately.

Jones said having the community involved in the things the refuge does will help them understand why the work is so important.

“We can put it on a flyer or send it out in a brochure but it means a whole lot more if you get involved with it.,” Jones said. “We love having members of the community come out and help us. If they have questions we can answer, we can help them better understand the value of putting habitat back.”

Stewardship Saturdays started sometime in the 1990’s but were later put on hold due to other issues that came up.

This will be the first time Stewardship Saturdays have been implemented since then due to he the help from Americorps, who have organized and coordinated the event with the Wildlife Refuge.

One of these organizers is Kelsey Woodcock, a Visitor Services Leader at the refuge and member of Americorp. She is the organizer responsible for bringing Stewardship Saturdays back to the refuge.

Woodcock said she couldn’t describe the feeling of bringing back Stewardship Saturdays.

“People get their hands dirty in doing something that’s good and then they can watch these trees grow and thrive and maybe they can develop the love for nature that I have and pass that on,” Woodcock said.

According to Jones, the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge’s focus has primarily been on protecting and restoring wetlands.

She said the refuge also serves to provide educational opportunities for people of all ages and recreational opportunities to have a better understanding and investment in Cypress Creek as a resource.

“The key to Stewardship Saturdays is that these projects are worthwhile projects, they’re not big projects, they’re not just to get people out there to count hours,”  Jones said. “We really want to accomplish a task and so hopefully that makes a difference to the individual who is thinking about coming out.”

Features editor Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kittfresa.

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