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Volunteer opportunities for outdoor lovers

At a New Year’s Day trout fishing event, sponsored by Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited and the Schuylkill Headwaters Association, hardworking volunteers really pitched in to make things run smoothly for the anglers.

People took registrations, made food and carried heavy buckets of fish to stock.

It may be that people shy away from volunteering for an organization because they are leery of making a time commitment. Here’s some food for thought – just volunteering for a few hours can help hugely, and if you can’t make a time commitment at least join an organization, because your membership dollars also help.

Here are some clubs that are sure to keep you busy:

The Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club currently maintains a 64.4 mile section of the Appalachian Trail along the Blue Mountains from Lehigh Furnace Gap Road to Rausch Gap with the exception of a section between Bake Oven Road and Tri-County Corner. Club members and other volunteers perform ongoing maintenance, cleanups and repairs on the Appalachian Trail, Shelters, Arboretum, and various other projects throughout the year.

Each section of the Appalachian Trail that the BMECC maintains has a caretaker. Caretakers hike their section and identify areas needing maintenance. Monthly work trips are scheduled to improve areas identified. Repairs are made to the shelters including new roofs, privys and more each year. Work trips are listed on the club’s website.

A major spring cleanup will be held Saturday, March 28, at various locations on the Appalachian Trail. Suggested gear for volunteers includes work gloves, hand saws, loppers and willingness. Contact Scott Birchman, (484)280-3034. For more information about the club, email info@bmecc.org.

Another area hiking club is the Allentown Hiking Club, which is sponsored by the Allentown Recreation Bureau. The club maintains 3 miles of the Appalachian Trail, including two backcountry shelters, Allentown (north of New Tripoli) and G.W. Outerbridge (west of the Lehigh Gap). The club offers numerous hikes and other outdoor events, open to the general public and led by experienced club members and other local experts.

For info about membership, contact allentownhikingclub.membership@gmail.com; for general information contact allentownhikingclub.info@gmail.com.

The Friends of Beltzville State Park, founded in 2015, works with park staff to contribute to the conservation of the park and its resources.

Do you have the qualifications as listed on the club website – “Friends are young and not so young, all with different background but all are people like you who love the outdoors and are willing to help conserve and preserve by volunteering their time, talents, services and support to enhance our state parks and forests. Friends groups form for a variety of reasons, but all understand the value of their particular state park or forest.

For information about Friends of Beltzville, contact chairperson Diane Szwajkowski, 215-230-0654.

The Schuylkill Headwaters Association (SHA) is a 501(c)3 organization. The organization needs volunteers for projects aimed at reducing and controlling pollution, within the headwaters of the Schuylkill River. For more information, contact 570-622-3742 Ext. 3331; or email Outreach and Programs Coordinator, outreach@schuylkillheadwaters.org.

Outdoor organizations would be hard pressed to hold events without their loyal volunteers, such as these two - Terri Gibbons, New Philadelphia and Charles Mull, Cumbola - who are volunteers for the Schuylkill Headwaters Association. They were helping with registration at the New Year’s Day trout fishing event in Tamaqua. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS