Dog owners all know the importance of getting out in nature with their four-legged friends. But have you ever thought about how you can make your local park a happier, healthier place for everyone?
Not only will this improve your next hike, but it will also help future generations of hikers and pet owners enjoy clean, safe trails.
How to Help Local Parks in 3 Major Ways
If you’d like to participate in supporting your local parks and hiking trails, here are a few ways to help.
1. Organize a Cleanup Day
The cleanliness of local parks can vary significantly, depending on funding, visitors’ behavior, and other factors. If you notice that the trails at your local park need some TLC, why not organize a park cleanup event? It’s a great way to bring people together and improve park safety.
How to organize a park cleanup:
The easiest way is to ask friends and family to join you in picking up trash, moving fallen branches, and raking leaves off the trails. If you want to organize a larger community cleanup event, this is the basic process:
- Connect with the local Parks and Recreation department to see if you need a permit or if they have suggestions for the process.
- Arrange for a dumpster or a borrowed truck to take to the dump. Make a recycling plan too.
- Get the word out with flyers, social media events, local news publications, and more. Be specific about what participants should bring, such as work gloves. Gather their email addresses through a Google form or other tool.
- Gather supplies: trash bags, extra gloves, rakes, brooms, a large water jug, etc. Consider making instructional posters about trash vs. recycling items and other guidelines.
- Before the event, send an email reminder of the event location and time. Add this reminder to your social media events too.
- Make sure everyone has a fun, positive experience and shares photos of the cleanup day. A “thank you” goes a long way toward making your next cleanup event successful.
2. Support Local Park Organizations
There are organizations dedicated to protecting parks across the country. Research the organizations that help local parks in your area—like Friends of the Parks or The National Park Trust—and see how you can lend them a hand.
Many local organizations rely heavily on donations from their supporters to keep their parks clean and safe for everyone (including our furry friends). Every little bit helps! So, consider donating money if you can or volunteering with an organization if there is one in your area.
Think outside of the box too. For example, a local business might sponsor your cleanup event so you can make a larger donation than you would have otherwise been able to.
3. Pick Up After Your Dog
Speaking of pet waste… This one is a no-brainer! Always pick up after your pup at the park—this means not just their poop but also any toys or other items they might drop.
This keeps the park tidy, safer for pets, and safer for the wild animals that are attracted by the scent of food or other items left behind by pet owners. Community pet waste pickup is a year-round responsibility.
One incredible way to keep your local park cleaner long-term is to purchase a pet waste station for the park. This may be another item that a local business would be willing to sponsor, especially if their business name is posted on the station.
How to Increase Local Park Attendance
Supporting local parks is essential to keeping the community safe while enjoying nature. If you’re looking for ways to increase your local park attendance, consider the following:
- Keep it clean by following the tips in this article.
- Be active on social media profiles, whether you're park staff or a frequent guest.
- Host fun events like foraging hikes and bike rambles.
- Participate in fundraising.
Whether it’s organizing a cleanup day or just making sure you always pick up after your pup when they do their business, every act of support makes a difference in ensuring our local parks stay beautiful and accessible for everyone who visits them.