The city of Lake Charles will host the first of a series of “Nature in Focus” events in June, beginning with a community workday at Tuten Park on Saturday. The workday is scheduled to prepare for the reopening of the park’s Nature Sanctuary, which represents “the final piece of having the park back in full operation for the public to enjoy,” said Mayor Nic Hunter.

“Our parks are a critical component of quality of life in the city of Lake Charles,” Hunter said. “Programs like these are a small part of a larger effort we are making across the city through our Partners in Parks initiative to expand opportunities for citizens of all ages to make their way outside and explore science and nature in their own backyard.”

Volunteers will help clear vegetation and debris from the trails, clean up pollinator gardens and planters and pick up litter throughout the park, said Irvin Louque, the city’s parks program manager. The 4,000 feet of natures trails, outdoor classroom, Cajun prairie restoration, 1/4 acre wildlife pond and 14 acres of wildlife habitat will be unveiled at a grand reopening ceremony 8-10 a.m. Saturday, June 15.

Tuten Park closed in 2007 after it became severely overgrown in Hurricane Rita’s aftermath. Louque said the original trails have been resurfaced with improved drainage from the addition of four trail bridges. The new pond will serve as a permanent water source for wildlife as an additional space for educational opportunities. The sanctuary will also feature a hammock station for residents to bring their own hammock to relax in the forest’s shade.

To date, the nearly year-old Partners in Parks initiative has raised more than half a million dollars for city parks. Funds, however, are not the sole purpose of the program.

“Another goal is to get citizens excited about their neighborhood park and give them a sense of ownership,” Hunter said.

It is recommended that volunteers bring a reusable water bottle, gloves, mosquito repellent, sunscreen and gardening tools to the workday. To signup as a volunteer, email irvin.louque@cityoflc. us or call 491-8770.

For more information on Nature in Focus events, visit www.eventbrite.com or call 491-8770.

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