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ACORNS: County Park Volunteer Day

By Philip Anselmo

Genesee County's ACORNS held a volunteer day today, welcoming folks to come out and help the group with some of their outdoor activities. For those who don't yet know of the ACORNS (that is: the Association for the Conservation of Recreation and Natural Spaces), they describe themselves in this way:

"ACORNS is a volunteer group formed to support Genesee County Parks ... by assisting with environmental programs and park maintenance, offering recreational opportunities and promoting the parks. ACORNS' membership dollars support the parks' programs and help with improvements in the parks and at the Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Nature Center."

Today, some volunteers got together to help with a couple of the group's projects: GPS mapping of the county's parks and their "made-from-nature" display at the Holland Land Office Museum's Wonderland of Trees.

ACORNS member Judy Spring told us a little about the GPS mapping. Essentially, surveyors walk the park trails with a receiver stuck out of a backpack and send up signals to satellites at certain waypoints. Those positions are then synced up with a computer program that marks all of the points on a general map of the area.

The group has already helped get this done at the Genesee County Park and Forest. Now they're making the rounds of the rest of the recreational parks.

Once the data has been synced up with the satellites, the waypoints are marked on traditional maps that can be given out to tourists or any area parkgoers. This helps, because locations are exact, not merely estimated, so trail walkers can know exactly where they are at each waypoint.

Waypoints can also be transposed onto topographical maps and used by programs such as Google Earth.

After a chilly, snowy morning of walking the trails, the volunteers then met up at the Holland Land Office Museum, where they set up their display. This year's theme is Frosty's Holiday, so the group put together a big snowman, made of painted leaves, corncob, stones and tree bark. Their display is impressive: a community of critters made of pine cones, twigs, bark, nut shells... whatever you might find in nature.

Julia Garver, president of ACORNS, told us that the group used the book on the Brandywine Critters for some inspiration, although most of what they made was dreamt up from their own active imaginations—such as the pine cone jamboree and the tree bark top hat up above.

If you're looking to find out more about ACORNS, or if you're interested in joining the group, give them a call at (585) 344-1122.

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