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Nine volunteers cited for work on Linwood trails

POSTED: May 12, 2013 12:06 a.m.

Alicea Vega, of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and Raleigh, N.C., ties honeysuckle vines to be ceremonially cut Saturday at the trail head of Linwood Nature Preserve.

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Nine AmeriCorps volunteers were honored Saturday afternoon by grateful city groups and environmental conservationists at Linwood Nature Preserve in Gainesville.

The group of young people from all corners of the U.S., including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Oregon, spent four weeks cutting trails at Linwood Nature Preserve along with volunteers from the Redbud Project, a grass-roots community conservation organization.

Although the trails aren’t technically open to the public, people are still welcome to come explore, Margaret Rasmussen of the Redbud project said.

“The gate will be closed to cars, but the general public is welcome to come explore the trails,” she said, adding that it helps establish and compact the newly formed pathways.

Trails will be officially open to the public in future months, pending development of the trailhead.

One of the members, Patrick Reinert, was a Georgia native. His father was one of the attendees as Redbud leader Tom Rasmussen spoke to the group and choked up at the thought of the eight eager corps members’ imminent departure.

“They were just a joy to work with,” he said.

“I don’t know if they love us as much as we love them,” Margaret Rasmussen chimed in as he composed himself. “You don’t want them to leave.”

“I didn’t know he loved us that much,” Oregon native Amyleigh Apple said with a group of fellow volunteers after the presentation.

“He and Margaret, you can tell they’re just so passionate about this place and what it means, and I guess having us here really helps put their dreams into completion,” volunteer Erin Luce said.

Helping to cut the “Honeysuckle Vine” were members of the community, including Gainesville Councilman George Wangemann, who said the trails were truly “a labor of love.”

Rasmussen said she estimated at least 1,500 hours of community service were devoted to the trails.

“The hope is that we can get people into urban forests, to appreciate the diversity of our local ecosystems,” she said. “Especially our native species.”

Although they worked hard — literally “coming out of the mud” about an hour before the presentation, one volunteer said — the corps members got to experience a little of the community offerings in Gainesville.

“I got way more chicken than I could eat,” Luce said of last weekend’s Spring Chicken Festival.

The volunteers will next head to West Virginia after touching base in Mississippi, where AmeriCorps members are initially trained and put in groups.


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