Major MLK Volunteer Event at Big Thicket canceled due to government shutdown

Published 1:27 pm Saturday, January 19, 2019

To The Leader


Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) federal holiday, a fee-free day for all national parks, is a popular time for people to visit and volunteer in our parks. Many parks depend on MLK service events to help maintain, clean up trash, repair campgrounds and plant trees and other native vegetation. As the shutdown drags on, many parks are having to cancel these events, losing out on hours of volunteers’ support.

For the first time in nine years, National Parks Conservation Association had to cancel the Big Thicket Longleaf Pine Planting event where over the years, its joined with partners to plant nearly 160,000 trees to provide the region and park natural resiliency against storms and severe weather like Hurricane Harvey, as well as critical habitat for endangered wildlife.

Nearly 15,000 trees are in holding now, along with thousands of dollars spent that could all go to waste if these trees aren’t planted by late February.

This time of year is the optimal time for planting longleaf pines, and delays could result in a loss of trees and money already spent.

This cancellation also means the park will lose a year of planning and site preparation as the Park Service typically preps the planting sites months in advance for this annual planting event.