Students from Alton Middle School participated Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5, in days of service working along the Rock Spring Park and Alton Middle School border.
Nearly 200 AMS students were joined Friday by Alton Parks Department and Forestry Division crews, as well as a number of community volunteers, working to clear deadfall and invasive brush from the park. More than four truckloads of material was cleared and chipped. Sixth- and seventh-grade students participated from science classes led by Mr. Utgaard, Ms. Flounders, Mr. Rister and Mrs. Ginestra. Student volunteers from Lewis and Clark Community College’s YouthBuild program also contributed their labor while the AMS students were away at lunch and attending other classes. Work also was begun to restore and reclaim the picnic pavilion and playground areas at the park.
Work continued Saturday, April 5, with about 30 student and community volunteers who showed up to continue the project. The long-term goal of the AMS/Rock Spring Park border project is to create an outdoor classroom experience and center for the study of ecology. As invasive bush honeysuckles are removed, the plan is to replace them with native plant communities featuring edible species to create a demonstration “foraging forest” in Rock Spring Park.
The event was organized under the umbrella of the Rock Spring Park Revitalization Committee, an outgrowth of the Drug Free Alton Coalition, and received much-appreciated organizational support from The Three Rivers Project of the Sierra Club. The Upper Alton Business Association contributed bottled water and fruit for volunteers and Duke’s Bakery surprised volunteers Saturday with a generous supply of baked goods. Alton Mayor Brant Walker stopped by Friday afternoon to show his support and discuss the project with student volunteers.
The Rock Spring Park Revitalization Committee has many other plans afoot to focus volunteer and community resources on what could once again be a jewel among the city of Alton’s public spaces. Building on the park’s existing strengths including a world-class Frisbee Golf Course, the neighboring Rock Spring Golf Course, and the proud tradition of Winter Wonderland carried on by the Grandpa Gang, the committee hopes to continue to stir interest into action to bring the park back to its former glory as a location to create a new generation of family memories.