More than 110 Dakota Electric Association members volunteered their time on May 7 to clear brush at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington as part of the twelfth annual, state-wide, Touchstone Energy GreenTouch day.

Local electric cooperatives around the state of Minnesota helped organize 545 volunteers who worked more than 1,800 hours — armed with rakes, clippers, trash bags and work gloves — to help prepare 13 Minnesota state parks for the spring and summer season.

For the last 10 years, Dakota Electric has organized a crew to work at Fort Snelling State Park. However, due to flooding, the event was moved to the National Wildlife Refuge next to the state park. The volunteers cleared buckthorn, removed brush and made massive piles for chipping, as they performed 300 hours of service.

Mark Cleveland, central region resource specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, appreciates Dakota Electric’s efforts organizing volunteers over the years.

“We are thankful for all the volunteers Dakota Electric has helped provide over the years,” Cleveland said. “They have provided hours and hours of service caring for our natural resources over the last 10 years.”

The GreenTouch project is a partnership between Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives and the Minnesota State Park system. Electric cooperatives in Minnesota over the last twelve years have contributed to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help fund the State Park guide and Junior Park Naturalist program. Over that time, GreenTouch has provided more than 7,300 volunteers who have worked more than 24,700 hours for the Minnesota State Park system.

Each cooperative that took part in the GreenTouch event recruited members and employees to volunteer at state parks within or near their service areas. Dakota Electric volunteers included families, individuals, scouts and other groups from around Dakota County.

“Dakota Electric would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success,” said Joe Miller, event organizer for Dakota Electric. “This annual event provides a way for Dakota Electric and its members to demonstrate their commitment to the local community and the environment.”

Touchstone Energy is a nation-wide alliance of 700 electric cooperatives in 46 states serving more than 40 million members with integrity, accountability, innovation and a longstanding commitment to communities.