Local environmental group working to clean up Moorestown, educate residents

Save the Environment of Moorestown’s Natural Area Care Committee is looking for volunteers.

For Save the Environment of Moorestown’s Natural Area Care Committee, saving the planet isn’t about one day of the year — Earth Day — it’s about taking little actions every day to make Moorestown a cleaner place.

Ongoing attention is required to keep open spaces healthy and clean, and the National Area Care Committee is taking on this challenge. The committee is cleaning up nine sites in 2017 — one each month from March until October.

Site leader Elaine Young is in charge of the South Valley Woods clean up to take place in September and says the cleanup events are activities that give back more than they take.

“People should help with the sites not only as a way to give back, but you can also learn a lot about your town,” Young said. “Some of the people working the site can tell you about the history of the site, information about other sites to walk, and some are knowledgeable about the flora and fauna.”

Other sites include Susan Stevens Halbe Preserve, Wigmore Acres, Esther Yanai Preserve, Pompeston Park, Little Woods on the Rancocas and Waterworks Woods.

According to the committee, the projects provide opportunities for volunteers to help the community while exploring open spaces and enjoying the company of others who enjoy being outdoors.

Volunteers will tackle jobs such as trail blazing and maintenance, planting, litter collection, invasive plant control and stream clean up. Projects typically last two hours, but volunteers are welcome to contribute more or less time if they choose.

“Don’t feel intimidated to come out if you’ve never done it,” Young said. “It doesn’t take skill or knowledge, just a little muscle to move branches and the ability to use clippers to keep the trails clear.”

Educating residents can be just as important as the cleanup projects, according to National Area Care Committee chairperson Kathy Huffman. She says one thing many residents don’t know is lawn chemicals can run off into local lakes.

“Everybody is so chemical crazy,” Huffman said.

Various community groups such as Boy Scouts are beginning to get involved with the Natural Area Care Committee, as work can count toward volunteer hours.

“If a group wants to do an individual project like for community service, we’ll be happy to try to work with them,” Huffman said.

She added the committee is looking for stewards who will check the properties once a month to make sure no additional work is needed. Additionally, several projects planned are still in need of site leaders.

“We’d like to be able to do more but we just don’t have the manpower,” Huffman said.

Huffman encourages fellow residents to put away their cell phones, turn off their televisions and “take a hike.”

“It’s your environment,” she said. “There have been studies that say how much better your quality of life is if you get outside.”

For more information or to inquire about volunteering, contact Huffman at kajer3@comcast.net or visit www.stemonline.org.