Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Come one! Come all!

Our Hillsdale Lake needs help… badly!

With all the buckets and buckets and oodles and oodles of water this summer, the land around Hillsdale Lake has taken a beating and truly needs some assistance and aid and support.

Mark your calendars for Sept. 28, which is National Public Lands Day. The Corps of Engineers would appreciate the help of about 500 people to come tend to the needs of the area around the campgrounds, picnic areas, the beach, and other places waiting for some cleanup.

You may be thinking, “Whoa! That’s a lot of folks!”

Well, there is A LOT of work to be done… insurmountable work.

The gravel in the campsites has to be replaced. Someone has donated their dump truck, and another kind soul has allowed the use of a backhoe to aid in the completion of this major task.

Can you imagine all the rubbish and debris that the water brought onto land? Sakes a gracious! The amount of trash that environmentally unfriendly folks dump into the lake while they are boating the waters is ever-present. Then add to that the trash that has floated into the lake by runoff.

Add to that the items brought in by all the flooded Hillsdale Lake watershed areas where people have dumped washing machines, guttering, boxes and bags of “stuff.” It had to go somewhere, and the land is the somewhere.

There is a lot of driftwood and dead trees that are going to need cutting and removal to another area to be burned… maybe as part of a giant hot dog feed.

A lot of this sounds a bit tough for youngsters to do, but the campsites will all need to be reseeded with grass. Spreading seeds is something little ones can do with gusto and pride.

Trees! So many areas have lost all their trees. Purchasing one to donate to the lake is one possibility. I asked about digging up some trees from my land and contributing them to the cause.

I was told by Trent Smith, a ranger assistant to Jim Bell, that it should be fine.

You know, if you are a faithful reader, that I always have a plethora of mimosa trees. They grow fast, make wonderful shade, produce aromatic flowers that are loved by bees and butterflies and many, many birds.

I plan to donate a bunch of them to spread the love and joy and beauty of the mimosa tree. (I would be more inclined to camp next to a mimosa rather than a locust or Osage orange tree… nothing against them. I love all trees)

Maybe you have a small redbud or oak or maple or pawpaw or hickory tree just setting in the soil somewhere awaiting to become a splendiferous resident at Hillsdale Lake. I think having one of your own trees planted by the lake would make me feel pretty good.

There are some trails that are in need of maintenance and bridges that gave out under the weight of too much water that are also on the to-do list.

Trent Smith said, “How much we accomplish on the 28th depends on how many volunteers we get.”

At the present time a church in Olathe has people coming to give their time and efforts as well as a high school teacher from Gardner-Edgerton and his class. Right now, about 150 people have signed up.

Smith told me that you may also contribute food, money and supplies to aid in the effort.

If you, or a group you know, would like to help on the 28th please meet at the Corps of Engineers shelter house at 8:30 am. You’ll be given a name tag and a pass to get into the park.

I know a lot of people from all over the place use Hillsdale Lake, but I would consider it “OUR lake” because it is in our county, our area, in our backyards and it needs OUR help in getting it back to the picturesque place of beauty and nature.

~ ~ ~

I discovered someone else in our area is keeping a watchful eye to the sky. Sheila Harrington Wilson, daughter of Bob Harrington, my predecessor to this column, contacted me the other day about seeing four bald eagles, one adult and three juveniles flying close to the spillway on the lake side about mid-morning. Sharing the magnificent site with her grandson, Howard John Wenger, was a great joy for both.

My daughter saw the same eagle flying along Wea Creek again last week. For me, seeing a bald eagle is almost more than my eyes, and heart, can endure. Their mere presence is mind boggling and so incredible. I am glad to know there are others who find the existence of birds a pleasure.

Beth Conner is a Miami County resident, teacher and outdoor enthusiast.

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