Stubborn winter puts a chill on Farmington's pond cleanup volunteering
April Fools Day has come and gone, but it seems Mother Nature doesn't realize that.
She's put a damper on the spirits of every spring-loving person in the state, and now she's holding up plans for one of Farmington's annual events.
Farmington natural resources specialist Jen Dullum thinks it might be the snow -- or, more specifically, the lack of spring weather -- that has contributed to a decline in volunteers for this year's Park and Pond Cleanup.
The annual event relies on volunteers who are willing to go out and pick up garbage, recycling and loose debris that collects over the fall and winter months. This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, April 27.
Usually, Dullum has between 500 and 600 volunteers sign up and participate. As of Monday, though, she only had 143 registered, and the registration deadline is Friday, April 19.
"I'm a little uncertain about how many people are coming in this year," Dullum said. "It makes you wonder if the weather is a factor."
Dullum usually sets her registration deadline a week in advance of the cleanup so she can plan for supplies and food, and so she can map out where the volunteers will be stationed on the day of the event. The city provides volunteers with trash bags and gloves, and makes arrangements for the garbage to be picked up when volunteers are done.
A number of the groups who participate do so with the intent of cleaning a neighborhood park or pond near their homes. Smaller groups and newcomers are put to work at Rambling River Park and at the Prairie Waterway ponds.
"Those are our two big sites that are nice and have lots of recreational space," Dullum said.
A number of new volunteers have registered this year, she said. Some are from Farmington High School. There is a mom's organization that's registered, too. But she hasn't heard from a couple of the large groups that normally register.
Dullum will do her best to spread the volunteers around the city and get to the most frequently used parks first. Getting to the ponds is more difficult, and that's where having volunteers has been helpful.
Since Mother Nature hasn't cooperated this year, Dullum is also watching the weather forecast for the last weekend of the month.
"I'm hoping the weather gets better. If there's snow on the ground, it might make it hard to pick up the trash. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sunny and warm weather," she said. "It's hard to think spring cleanup when there's snow on the ground."
If the weather does not cooperate and the event needs to be cancelled, the information will be put out on the city's webpage, www.ci.farmington.mn.us and shared through the city's Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Interested volunteers can still register by calling Dullum at 651-280-6845; or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A registration form is also available on the city's website.
Two other events scheduled for April 27 will still go on, no matter what.
The city of Farmington is hosting its Earth and Arbor Day Celebration at Rambling River Center starting at 11:30 a.m. It is free and open to the public, and will feature booths from various environmental agencies.
The Dakota County Library in Farmington is also holding a paper shredding event that same day.