This land is your land

Friends of Lower Lake volunteers take a break from digging out non-native species. Environmental organizations are hoping for a big turnout Sept. 28 for National Public Lands Day. Back row, left:Pow Joshi, Emma Shook, John Barber, Ryan Miller, Eran Shiloh, Mark Majewski, Andrew Klooster Front row, left: Lamar Shepherd, Sue Strauss, Sasha Strauss, Kathy Smachlo. Photo: Peggy Spaeth

National Public Lands Day has been celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September for the past 25 years as a day of volunteerism on which people give back to the environment. This year Lower Shaker Lake will be site of one of those volunteer opportunities Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. 

The lake has actually been a volunteer site most Sunday mornings since May 2018. Much of the vegetation around it is a monoculture of aggressive non-native plant species.

Friends of Lower Lake, a volunteer project of the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, has been removing and replacing invasive plants with native trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns and sedges. Most of the work, supervised by experienced volunteers, occurs at the Canoe Club site behind the wood chip pile on South Park Boulevard. 

The 1½ acre public parkland at the man-made lake has 300-year-old oak trees and groomed paths for walkers, runners, birders, bicyclists and botanists. It’s free and open to the public.

Adjacent to the lake, the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes is a 20-acre nonprofit educational nature preserve that also relies on volunteers under the expert oversight of Natural Resources Specialist Nick Mikash.

Volunteers are important to both organizations, because resources for urban parks are often scarce. Mikash said, the more volunteers, the more invasive species removed. "This land is your land!" said Mikash." Join the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership, and Friends of Lower Lake to restore a local ecosystem in your own backyard.”

The National Environmental Education Foundation reported that last year 113,055 volunteers worked 452,220 volunteer hours at 1,176 sites across the country on National Public Lands Day. 

Volunteering is free but the organizations ask that you register so they can plan. Contact Kristina Arthur, volunteer coordinator at the Nature Center, at, or 216-321-5935. Families with school-age children or older, teens, and groups are welcome.

Work will be done at the dam on Brook Road at the west end of the lake. Parking is available on South Park Boulevard and on the surrounding side streets. Please bring a labeled reusable water bottle. Gloves and tools will be provided.

Peggy Spaeth

Peggy Spaeth is co-chair of Friends of Lower Lake with John Barber. Her personal goal is to have 100 volunteers at Lower Lake for National Public Lands Day.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 2:05 PM, 09.02.2019