2005-07-21 / News

Teen Landmark Volunteers Rake, Trim, Clear Trails at Les Cheneaux

By Amy Polk

At left: Sean Dykes, one of the Landmark Volunteers, trims around headstones at Cedar Cemetery in Cedarville.
At left: Sean Dykes, one of the Landmark Volunteers, trims around headstones at Cedar Cemetery in Cedarville.

A dozen teens from throughout the United States worked in Clark Township earlier this month under a volunteer community service program to clean parks and clear trails and beaches. At a project in Cedarville’s waterfront park, they were applauded for their work.

"People were just driving by and literally thanking the kids and clapping for them when they saw what they were doing," said Nadine Cain of Cedarville, a former school administrator and volunteer with The Nature Conservancy.

The group came here through an organization called Landmark Volunteers, which offers volunteer service for teens around the United States. They selected the trip from 60 projects at national parks, the Appalachian Trail, camps for the disabled, or nature preserves. Most of the programs are on the East and West coasts, or in the Rocky Mountains. The Les Cheneaux Islands program is the only Landmark program offered in Michigan. There are two in Minnesota.

The volunteer team arrived in the area June 26 and stayed at Cedar Campus east of Cedarville until July 9. The lodging put them close to Nature Conservancy preserves like the Carl Gerstacker Preserve and Cadogan Point, where much of their work was based. Volunteers helped clear and maintain trails and removed invasive plant species. Spotted knapweed, an aggressive weed that replaces indigenous plants, has spread into the natural areas along M-134. The weeds threaten rare beach plants, like Houghton's goldenrod, on the dunes along Lake Huron.

At Cadogan Point, the volunteers tore out the remains of an old dock along a protected shoreline. Nature Conservancy employee Brian Carlson, who supervised the volunteers, said the work will restore the natural state of the shoreline, which is protected from future development.

"We're having a good time and it's been great," Mr. Carlson said. "Without their help, a lot of this work would never have gotten done."

He and Mrs. Cain coordinated work on Nature Conservancy lands and projects for Clark Township.

Landmark Volunteers was founded in 1992, based on the philosophy that young people can make unique contributions to society. Last year, the group enrolled 700 students to assist 63 nonprofit organizations around the United States.

The teens completed several projects for Clark Township, including sprucing-up the waterfront park on Hodeck Street, mowing, trimming, and raking at Cedar Cemetery, and brushing and improving trails at the Les Cheneaux Community Schools outdoor classroom.

The organization last visited the area in 2002 to work on the Peek-A-Boo cross-country ski trail and other projects. The Nature Conservancy's Upper Peninsula office arranges a Landmark Volunteer trip somewhere in the Upper Peninsula every year.

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