NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in park usage across the nation, as millions went outdoors.
The recreation took its toll on the natural beauty of our local parks, and as they get ready for summer, many need volunteers to clean up and conserve.
Stretching across five counties, the Palisades Interstate Park has a rich history.
The governors of New York and New Jersey, Teddy Roosevelt and Foster Voorhees, saw the mountains west of the Hudson River being demolished for stone and created a commission to preserve the land in 1900.
"The cliffs were being destroyed and being used to build New York City, and people were able to stop that," said Victor Del Rio, with the Palisades Park Conservancy.
Today, the Palisades Park Conservancy is still striving to protect America's first bi-state park system.
"130,000 acres, 20 parks, eight historical sites," Del Rio said. "It was said by George Perkins, one of the founders, that the Palisades Park are the lungs of New York."
Those lungs struggled during the pandemic with pollution, as visitors surged and park workers had to stay home.
"People used it by the hundreds of thousands during COVID," said Carol Ash, Vice President of the Palisades Park Conservancy. "There's trash that happens, there's the highway traffic that happens, there's trees that fall down."
Ash says it is a massive effort to keep trails maintained and safe, and they rely on donations at benefits.
A Party for the Parks, held just after Memorial Day weekend, will help fundraise for cleanup, restoring historic sites, and running events like summer camps for 7,000 kids.
Half are either homeless or living in shelters and otherwise wouldn't get to experience things like clean pools, waterfalls, wildlife and nature.
Party for the Parks is being held Wednesday, June 1. If you'd like to support the efforts of the conservancy, you can visit: PalisadesParks.org/