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Local contractors donate services
West Dakota Water Development District and a group of Rapid City area businesses are funding the upgrades recommended by Andrea Vargas and a team of South Dakota Mines students at Trinity Eco Prayer Park. The upgrades will increase the water flow capacity and provide easier maintenance at the park. This will enhance the original intent of the park to slow, spread, infiltrate, and naturally filter stormwater that runs off parking lots, alley and walks before it enters Rapid Creek. The project also creates opportunity for a living laboratory where future students can study urban runoff, associated water quality issues, and sustainable stormwater management practices. Public-private partnerships paved the way for this project with funding and donations from a number of entities. West Dakota Water Development District granted $24,500 for the $66,010 project. Other partners include $5,000 donation from TerraSite Design and $3,000 from RCS Construction with in-kind services donated by Doyle Concrete ($3,000), Hanson Mapping and Survey ($2,000), and Pike at Play Excavation, which is doing demo and dirt work at cost.
Firefighters torch plants in tight quarters
Fire returned to Trinity Eco Prayer Park for the second time in three years when the Rapid City Fire Department conducted a prescribed burn in April. In nature fire helps create healthy soil by restoring nutrients and decreasing dead plant matter.
When the park was built the plan was for the Fire Department to do a burn every three years. But the above average moisture that fell over the past two years caused them to return a year ahead of schedule due to an overabundance of dead plant material.
The burn in the park is a precision operation in tight quarters. Firefighters use spray from hoses and create fuel-free buffers to protect shrubs and trees and to keep the fire from spreading to nearby properties.
The newest of the City of Presidents statues arrived at the entrance to Trinity Eco Prayer Park. The placement of Barak Obama’s likeness near the park is fitting because as president Obama demonstrated a commitment to parks and the planet.
He helped preserve over 260 million acres of public lands and water by creating over 20 national monuments, more than any other president in U.S. history. He also established America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which served to engage young people in conservation and the great outdoors, and establish urban parks and community green spaces.
The American Horticultural Society (AHS), one of the most respected and longstanding gardening organizations in the nation, accepted Trinity Eco Prayer Park (TEPP) as a member in its Reciprocal Admissions Program. TEPP joins over 330 gardens, parks and preserves found in all 50 states. Being an AHS member garden means that Trinity Eco Prayer Park is listed in the AHS garden directory (www.ahsgardening.org/gardening-programs/rap), which it refers to as “Your Passport to Public Gardens Across North America.”
Here's some ways you can get involved with giving
Park sets year-end giving goals
To wrap up 2018 and get ready for the 2019 season at Trinity Eco Prayer Park we are inviting friends of the park to pick one (or more) ways to support the park:
1) Help us find 20 new donors not from Trinity Lutheran Church. Invite a friend or two to make a gift to the park. You could entice them by offering to match their gift up to a certain amount.
2) Raise $1,000 to install a secure donation box in the park
3) Pitch in $2,000 to install a video security system
4) Chip in $3,000 to replace 3 vandalized solar lights
5) Recruit a new groundskeeper (see related article)
6) Find 3 master gardeners to volunteer 5 hours per week April though September 2)
to give online.
donation fundraising news rapid city
Groundskeeper gives notice, replacement needed
After two years of faithfully tending the plants, grasses and trees in Trinity Eco Prayer Park, Jesse Schulz has decided he will not be able to continue as park groundskeeper next year. A change in his career has required him to adjust his time commitments.
For the past two years, Jesse has found a way to put in 10 hours a week caring for the park in addition to working a full-time job.
When Jesse began working in the park, he had little knowledge of how to identify native species. But he was eager to learn and developed a masterful understanding of which species to keep in the park and which to get rid of. His conscientious efforts are responsible for the pleasant appearance of the park and his dedication to the park will be greatly missed.
Because he is concerned about the park, he gave plenty of notice that he would not be returning so we could find another person to fill that position. If you know anybody who would be interested in this seasonal part-time job that runs from April through September, contact Ken (605-389-3448) or refer them to bit.do/TEPP-Groundskeeper.
ecosystem news rapid city sustainability
Three of the park's solar-powered path lights were damaged in early March by individuals who apparently used rocks from the park's garden beds. Initial estimates place the cost of the destructive acts at $6,000 to $8,000.
Some time during the night of March 8 one or more persons attacked half of the park's solar-powered path lights. Vandals busted out the light lenses at the top of the posts and shattered the solar collection panels on the sides of the three lights closest to the shelter. “This vandalism took concentrated effort since the damage to each light was extensive and the lights are designed to be ‘vandal resistant,’” said Park Director Ken Steinken. According to manufacturer’s brochures this light design was tested and survived “full attack” with baseball bats.
Since the lights generate and store their own electricity and are not connected to Black Hills Energy power lines, they will not be cheap to replace. Steinken estimates the cost to replace and install the three high-tech lights at $6,000 to $8,000. The park’s $1,000 deductible insurance will help with replacement expenses. “We are looking into installing a 24-hour video security system in the park that would help deter this kind of behavior in the future and assist police in finding vandals,” said Steinken. “Overall the park experiences very little vandalism,” Steinken added. “We are grateful that God watches over the park and has kept it in good condition. And we are thankful for the many park users who respect and care for the park and encourage others to do the same.”
If you'd like to help with the costs of replacing the three damaged lights or make a donation toward installing a video security system, use the "Donate" button on our website!
donation news rapid city
This summer mowing in the park is solar-powered. We are using a 20-inch cordless Ryobi lawn mower. The mower is powered by a 40-volt lithium battery. New brushless technology gives the mower “gas-like” power.
The latest addition to the park's solar-powered arsenal of yard care tools, the mower joins the weed whacker and leaf blower.
The chargers for the tools' batteries are located in the shelter storage area where they draw electricity from the solar panels located on the back of the shelter. When the panels generate more power than the park needs, excess electricity goes into the Black Hills Energy power lines.
BHE pays the park a modest fee for the power, which is applied as a credit to the park’s monthly electric bill. As a result the park’s bill is less than $20 per month.
Park Director Ken Steinken chose the mower after reading reviews of cordless mowers. The Ryobi ranked No. 3, but at $299 it was more reasonably priced than the top two mowers.
Since the mower was not available locally, Steinken was worried about how much it would cost to ship the mower to Rapid City. But Ryobi sells the mowers online through homedepot.com, which provides free shipping.
Although the mower is powerful enough to handle tall grass, its one drawback is that the battery run-time is 45 minutes, which may not be enough for larger lawns. The mower does have an on-board storage slot for an additional battery, which can be purchased separately.
Raising money to buy an electric mower was one of the goals of 2016’s year-end Start Strong fund drive. Thanks to those who donated to help buy the mower.
ecosystem fundraising news sustainability
After five years with no on-site indication of the what the park is called, Trinity Eco Prayer Park now has a sign proudly proclaiming its name. Rosenbaum’s Signs made and installed the sign, which displays the stylish park logo near the corner of 4th and St. Joseph Streets. It also declares the park’s goal to be “a place to reflect on how we relate to God, one another and the planet.”
Ever since the park’s grand opening celebration on a scorching hot day in June 2016, it was obvious the park could some shade in the central lawn area. Over the course of a week in May, two people expressed the desire to make memorial donations to have trees planted in the park.
Adding new trees had to take into consideration the park’s design above and below ground. Since most of the park’s electricity is generated by solar panels throughout the park, siting of any tree had to anticipate where a tree’s shadow would cast not only now, but in decades to come. Another concern is the park’s drainfield that was installed 18 inches below the central lawn. Planting trees also had to avoid the main water line coming into the park and the lawn’s underground sprinkler system.
Park designer Eirik Heikes helped identify planting locations. Two box elder trees were planted on June 11, the fourth anniversary of that blistering day when the park celebrated its opening with music and inspirational speakers.
Above-average precipitation in 2018 and 2019 accelerated the establishment of many of the park’s native plants. Blue grama grass began to dominate the grassy area along 4th Street. This came to the park as prairie sod that was cut from a rancher’s pasture.
The buffaloberry bushes on the west side of the park continue to spread creating a thick, lush barrier between the park and Hardee’s drive-through lane. The bushes produced bunches of red berries for the first time in 2018. Other species that were planted and are doing well include prairie cordgrass, maximillian sunflower, big blue stem, western wheatgrass, dotted gayfeather and purple coneflower.
A couple native species that are also thriving, but weren’t planted, are wooly verbena and inland salt grass. Both are volunteers - plants that sprouted from seeds that naturally found their way into the park through water, wind or birds.
Plans are in the works to burn some of the grasses and plants in Trinity Eco Prayer Park.
"Fire is nature's way to keep prairies and forests healthy," said Park Director Ken Steinken. "It reduces the amount of old, dead plants making way for new growth. And it puts nutrients back in the soil. "Since our goal is to manage the park in the most natural way possible, we decided to explore using fire as part of the plan to care for the park."
Steinken presented the idea to Battalion Chief Tim Daly who has conducted prescribed burns in or near the city limits for the Rapid City Fire Department. Daly was eager to pursue the idea as a way of helping the public learn that fire is not always destructive and can actually be a beneficial force.
The burn will take place this spring only if favorable weather and plant conditions come together at the same time.
ecosystem news rapid city sustainability
Park looks to raise $90,000
During the community-wide Park Payoff Matching Drive, Trinity Lutheran Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar your gift to pay off the Trinity Eco Prayer Park construction loan of $180,000. About 75 percent of the cost of building the park was raised prior to groundbreaking in 2014.
Give online at www.bit.do/TEPP-Give. If giving by mail make checks payable to TLCEF and mail to 402 Kansas City St, Rapid City, SD 57701. Be sure to put PARK - MATCH on the check memo line to double your gift.
LEVEL AMOUNT # NEEDED TOTAL
1 – BENEFACTOR $10,000 2 $20,000
2 – LIBERATOR $5,000 5 $25,000
3 – SPONSOR $2,500 7 $17,500
4 – STEWARD $1,000 10 $10,000
5 – GUARDIAN $500 15 $7,500
6 – ADVOCATE $250 22 $5,500
7 – CHAMPION $100 45 $4,500
106 donors $90,000
Trinity Lutheran Foundation match + $90,000
LOAN PAYOFF >>> $180,000
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