Guarding the Environment
DES MOINES - On April 22, approximately 120 new Iowa National Guard recruits will donate their time to central Iowa parks. The new guard members, along with the Commander Capt. George T. Mosby, and a cadre of enlisted soldiers will spend the morning removing invasive species and laying gravel at Ledges and Big Creek state parks.
This activity is a part of an annual service day for Iowa National Guard members called Guard the Environment, a program that encourages guard members to volunteer to improve local parks.
“Both missions will provide a longer lasting benefit to the community and bring home a deeper level of satisfaction in the service that each of our members have volunteered for,” said Mosby.
Chad Kelchen, park manager at Big Creek State Park, is grateful to have the help removing garlic mustard from a portion of the Neal Smith Trail.
“The National Guard volunteer day will be a key part of this plan by removing the flowering plants and preventing a seed bank from being established,” Kelchen said.
The plant is a noxious weed that can overtake a timber environment. Research indicates that it can hinder or prevent regeneration of trees as well as other timber species.
At Ledges State Park, the volunteers will shore up a trail damaged by erosion.
“There are several spots along the Hog’s Back Trail that are severely eroded and need additional rock to reinforce and make them safer for park visitors,” said Andy Bartlett, park manager at Ledges State Park.
With limited park staff, volunteers, such as those from the Iowa National Guard, supply the needed assistance to help keep state parks in top shape and provide a safe, enjoyable place for Iowans to bring their families.
These future soldiers are being introduced to what the Iowa National Guard is truly about as they move on to successfully complete their training and become members of their units where they could be assisting with disaster relief across Iowa or deployed overseas.