Are you looking for a good physical workout and a hands-on opportunity to help improve wildlife habitat? The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is looking for volunteers to help plant over 500 native trees at the Root River Tract near La Crescent, Minn., on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Please plan to arrive by 10 a.m. for a safety briefing and planting instructions.

The tree cuttings the group will plant will be tree “spear” transplants that can be installed by pushing them into the ground like a garden stake. Shovels will be on-hand if the ground is not as yielding as organizers like. All tools will be provided but please bring a pair of work gloves if you have them. Also, please bring a water bottle and a lunch. Hiking boots/work boots and long pants are required. Sunscreen and a hat are encouraged. Restrooms are available nearby in La Crescent.

The Root River Tract is a beautiful place to observe native plants and wildlife. This 825-acre parcel features bottomland forest, wet meadow, marsh, and shrub habitats. These areas offer a place for wildlife to rest and refuel.

Please contact Katie Julian at 608-779-2391 or by Friday, April 6. Volunteers must be at least 15 years of age; people under the age of 18 must have a parent/guardian-signed volunteer form prior to the event. Physically, this is a high activity level project limited to 25 people.

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is the most visited refuge in the United States. The refuge extends 261 miles along the Upper Mississippi River from Wabasha to Rock Island, Ill., protecting and preserving habitat for migratory birds, fish, and a variety of other wildlife. This 240,000-acre refuge was established in 1924.

In addition to being the most visited refuge in the country, the “Upper Miss” Refuge has the added complexity of a major navigation system, including 11 locks and dams, within its boundary. It is also a world-class fish and wildlife area which harbors 306 species of birds; 119 species of fish; more than 300 active bald eagle nests; thousands of heron and egret nests; spectacular concentrations of canvasback ducks, tundra swans, and white pelicans; and several threatened or endangered species.