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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Libertytown, Maryland, USA

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Libertytown, Maryland, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Union Bridge
Posts: 1
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Libertytown, Maryland is equipped with little more than a gas station, a dollar general, and a hardware store. Mr. R. Ludwick, a man who knows a thing or two about townships, once explained to me that Libertytown is un-incorporated. Although the details of the explanation widely evaded me, the point I understood was that the term defines my hometown as small. I have always loved living in an area where I know my neighbors by name and everyone waves to each other while driving around town.
Just a five minute walk from main street, Unglesbee Park is a site in Libertytown that out-dates all of the current residents. When I was younger, Unglesbee was always the place where my brothers and I could go fishing. While Libertytown was still developing, Jonathan Unglesbee donated a pond and the land surrounding it to the fire department for emergency water supplies. After the fire department grew dependent on other water sources, the pond lost its initial purpose and was reclaimed by the Libertytown Civic Association. The Civic Association is a non-profit, volunteer organization focused on improving the town of Libertytown. Upon reclamation, the Civic Association added playground equipment, a parking area, picnic tables, and opened the sight to the public. The land was renamed Unglesbee Park.
For years the site has been used by local residents for fishing, picnics, and recreation. Unfortunately however, in recent years the park has suffered a lot of misuse–vandalism and vegetation overgrowth plague the area. When I re-visited Unglesbee Park last August after several years of not seeing it, I was pretty astonished by the site. The picnic tables were old, rusted, warped, and had been ripped from their anchors in the ground. Additionally, the pond had become inaccessible because it was overrun with cattails and filled with trash. It really bothered me to see how different the park was. There was a sign by the small parking lot that said “Park is maintained by volunteers. Call if you can help.” Below it was a phone number. After a day or two of contemplating, I decided to call the number; I wanted to offer an hour or two of service if I could.
The number was for the home of Rick Ludwick and his wife. At 70-some years of age, the couple has been maintaining the park for years now. They mow the grass. They empty the trash. They put up with the littering and vandalism–and they do it all for free. I met with Mr. Ludwick and his wife one day at the park just to chat and he started pointing out all sorts of fixer-upper projects he wanted to start. There were rusty chains to be replaced, tables to repair, trees to remove, a pond to clean, and playground equipment to fix. His ambitions and will power were high, but sadly he lacked sufficient time, funding, and manpower to do much about it. Before I even knew it, I had a goal for this park–to restore it to the point where people could come and enjoy the land just as I used to.
Over the next week or so, the Ludkicks and I met twice more and chatted regularly on the phone. We devised a plan of what we wanted to fix up, and how it would be done. Mr. Ludwick also contacted the Libertytown Lion’s Club and asked if they would be interested in helping–they offered to fund the project! After a thorough discussion, we settled on three separate projects for improving the park: fixing the picnic tables, removing trash and about 100 square-feet of cattails from the pond, and removing 3 dead trees from the site.
I contacted the Lion’s Club and they were thrilled about my proposed project. After obtaining preliminary consent, I wrote up a formal project overview to submit to the Lion’s Club and the Civic Association. As part of my overview, I listed the required materials, found their prices at The Home Depot, and formulated a budge. The total estimated cost was just under $500. The majority of the money went towards new wood, concrete, and bolts for the picnic tables.
After I received the check from the Lion’s Club, my grandfather and I purchased all the materials, loaded them onto his truck, and dropped them off at the work site. I had established two long workdays on two consecutive Saturdays in September. I called up my family members and used Facebook to invite my friends online to come assist in the project. Members of the Lion’s Club and Civic Association also contacted their affiliates and requested help. Luckily, my best friend worked at a Dunkin Donuts in nearby Frederick City, and he persuaded the manager to donate several dozen donuts for the volunteers.
On Saturday, September 19th, I woke up, loaded a box of tools into my car, picked up the donuts, and drove off to Unglesbee Park. I had about 10 people show up at 7am for the project kick-off, and others came and went throughout the day. At one point there were around 20 people all working together on this project. The primary objective for the day was to replace the boards and hardware on all the picnic tables and concrete the tables into the ground. I began by splitting everyone into groups and assigning different tasks; a group to retrieve all the picnic tables and carry them to the work area, a group to drill holes in all the wood, and several groups to strip off the old boards off and replace them with new ones. If there were extra people at any point, they started removing the cattails and skimming the pond for trash.
For several hours, we systematically rebuilt every picnic table board by board. We faced a few problems here and there (incorrect tools, stripping bolts and un-aligned holes to name a few,) but the project ran rather smoothly. As we came close to finishing the picnic tables, I asked a new group of friends to dig the post holes for securing the tables. Luckily, my grandfather had a mechanical digger which he permitted us to use. I measured and marked the site of each hole, and they aligned quite nicely with the tables. The final task for day 1 was to anchor all of the tables into the ground by pouring cement in the holes and attaching the anchors to the tables via long dowels. (Once, a group of kids uprooted a picnic table and threw it into the lake. I didn’t want that happening again.) Most people had left by now (it was near 6pm), but two friends and I managed to secure all the picnic tables by the day’s end. Day 1 was a huge success.
With the picnic table portion of the project completed, we went on to the next sub-projects: the cattails and the trees. On September 26th, our work crew met up at Unglesbee once again. We spent the day uprooting over 500 cattails from the pond’s edge, while others loaded them onto a trailer. This cleared up about 30 feet of pond access directly next to the two most popular picnic areas. We dumped three full loads of cattails off at a mulching facility, free of charge. After several hours of uprooting, the pond was starting to look very accessible again.
The trees were never cut down. We decided to leave them in place. Mr. Ludwick enlisted the recommendation of a naturalist who inspected the trees and noted that (1) they were not entirely dead; most of them still had live portions towards the top and would bloom in the spring, and (2) that the trees were growing on steeply sloped land, grew at an angle, and were growing right next to playground equipment. He suggested that the falling of these trees should be left to professionals because it was quite risky.
In conclusion, I believe the project was very successful; there were very few issues that impeded progress and I’m very thankful to everyone that helped me. I was honestly very proud of our accomplishments and thankful for the opportunity to carry out such a project–I really enjoyed it. I believe that my project will continue to help the residents of Libertytown enjoy our outdoors and be able to do so in a safe, clean environment. Furthermore, this project enhanced my leadership and speaking skills immensely. I really would not have been the first person to jump on board for leading a renovation project–I kind of just worked myself into it. However, all the planning and careful attention to detail has really shown me how great it feels to formulate a working plan. Additionally, I have also learned about the values of teamwork; there is no way Mr. Ludwick and I could have done that on our own. Finally, I’ll be sure to reap the benefits of this project later in the fall every time I feel the urge to go fishing!
· Date: December 29, 2010 · Views: 2971 · File size: 22.1kb, 1438.3kb · : 2800 x 2128 ·
Hours Volunteered: 75
Volunteers: 35
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 13 to 70
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 4
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 90
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