Free entrance to Mesa Verde; volunteers needed

Mesa Verde National Park will offer free admittance on Saturday, Sept. 29 for National Public Lands Day. The 19th annual event encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

Many people will lend a hand to help the land and spend part of National Public Lands Day volunteering on work projects. More than 170,000 people are expected to plant trees, clean watersheds, remove invasive plants, replace signs, and otherwise beautify 2,000 public sites throughout the country.

Mesa Verde is asking for volunteers to help revegetate the Chapin Mesa Picnic Area where utility work was done this summer. Volunteers will be spreading native grass and forb seeds, covering with mulch, and watering. They will also be transplanting small trees and shrubs. Additional work will include removing weeds and raking at picnic sites.

We ask that volunteers wear appropriate clothing (sun hats, work gloves, long pants, closed-toe shoes), and bring drinking water, snacks, and a lunch. Lunch may also be purchased at the nearby Spruce Tree Terrace cafeteria.

Volunteers should meet at the Chapin Mesa Picnic Area located 20 miles inside the park at 10 a.m. Work will finish no later than 4 p.m.

All participants will receive a free National Public Lands Day T-shirt and fee-free coupons for future admission to participating public lands.

Information on NPLD and other local projects can be found at www.publiclandsday.org.

Other federal agencies offering free admittance on Sept. 29 include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Normally, 133 national parks charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25. The other 264 parks do not charge for admission. The National Park Service will also waive entrance fees from November 10-12 in commemoration of Veterans Day.