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Published: Sunday, August 24, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Visit parks for free, play in North Cascades or volunteer

This has been a summer to remember thanks to incredible weather. Fortunately, it's not over. High-elevation hikes remain a temptation, outdoors-related classes are on the calendar, and there's even a chance to enjoy a free day at a park.
Yes, you have to take a day off from work to enjoy it but let's not quibble.
On Monday, day-use visitors at any state park can visit for free. No need to bring cash or a $30 annual Discover Pass or a $10 one-day permit. The freebie is in honor of the Aug. 25, 1916, birthday of the National Park Service. National parks are also free that day.
The legislation that created the Discover Pass to raise funds to support the parks system also allowed the parks commission to designate up to 12 free days.
The Discover Pass is still required to access lands managed by the state Fish and Wildlife or the Department of Natural Resources.
Get out your calendar because two more free days are on the books: Sept. 27, in recognition of National Public Lands Day, and Nov. 11, in honor of Veterans Day.

Oysters, snakes, ponds: North Cascades Institute offers several summer and fall workshops and field trips. For details and online registration, go to www.ncascades.org, or call 360-854-2599.
Snakes in the Methow, Sept. 14.
Hawkwatching at Chelan Ridge, Sept. 20-21.
The Budding Naturalist 101, Sept. 26-28.
Seattle's Wild Side, Sept. 28.
Birds of Bellingham Bay, Oct. 5.
Oysters on Ice with Taylor Shellfish Farms, Oct. 10-11.
Finding Beauty and Renewal in the Wild Nearby, Oct. 11-12, a book-launch celebration with William Dietrich, Craig Romano and others.
Sit, Walk, Write: Nature & the Practice of Presence, Oct. 17-19.
Mount Baker Mushroom Excursion, Nov. 1.

Volunteer opportunity: Washington CoastSavers is participating in the International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 20. Volunteers can select from dozens of beaches from the Long Beach Peninsula to the Olympic Peninsula.
Hundreds of volunteers will meet the challenge to help clean beaches of marine debris. Since 2007, volunteers have removed tons of trash on our coast on Washington Coast Cleanup in the spring.
This is the second year volunteers will be involved in the fall. If dragging a heavy trash to the bin dumpster is beyond your physical abilities, there are other tasks that help make the day run smoothly.
The fall cleanup is an excellent time to remove Styrofoam that would break into tiny pieces during winter storms, often to be ingested by birds and marine mammals, which can lead to starvation or malnourishment.
For more information, visit www.coastsavers.org.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.
Story tags » ParksOutdoors

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