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Program Bank: Adopting Land

Adopt a Park

Check to see what local, county, or statewide governmental body in your area is in charge of your local parks. When groups “adopt” parks, they can, in addition to general clean-up, become involved in planting trees, building or renovating playgrounds, and even providing activities in the park. In some areas, parks may need volunteer security to help ensure that they remain safe play areas for young children.

Restore a Park Project

Temple Emanu-El in Tucson, Arizona has created a social action initiative whereby members clean and restore a park in the Tucson metropolitan area one day each spring. 

Congregational “Buffalo Hunt”

Have you ever wondered what happens when a herd of buffalo congregate together? The result is a tremendous amount of garbage and refuse. The aim of this program is to educate people about the affects of waste and garbage on the environment. The goal is that congregants, children and parents can learn what they can do to preserve and clean up their surroundings by “rounding up” as many pieces of garbage and dispose of it in receptacles. This is a fantastic way for individuals, adults and children to play an active role in cleaning our public parks and/or synagogues, while experiencing first hand the responsibility we have to care and maintain the environment and to preserve it.

Adopt a Roadside

Many communities now take sponsors to adopt major surface streets and highways. Usually, this involves calling the local office of your state’s Department of Transportation, or its equivalent in your area. Typically, sponsorship commits your organization to donate a certain amount of money and/or to volunteer for a clean-up operation three to six times a year. In many areas, your sponsorship will be proclaimed in a road sign, which can help people make the connection between your organization and environmental concerns. Temple Beth Or in Everett, Washington, has adopted a highway. The synagogue’s social action committee arranges work parties to pick up litter along a one-mile stretch of state highway. The group of volunteers meets twice a year and follows safety guidelines provided by the Department of Transportation. 

Adopt a Stream, Lake or Wetland

In some areas, the state Department of Environmental Conservation or its equivalent sponsors the adoption of streams, lakes and wetlands. In addition to the types of clean-up operations described above, adopting a stream, lake or wetland can involve assisting surveys of water and air temperatures, water and soil pH, and wildlife. You may be asked to help build or enhance habitats or nesting shelters. Your group can also get involved in advocacy with regard to development plans alongside the area you have adopted. Often, because of the scenic value of such areas, there may be pressure to develop land, which, if not carefully monitored, may cause environmental degradation.