The sweat dripped onto the collar of Frank Dyer's half-open jeans shirt in the fields around Skylands Manor in Ringwood State Park as he and three other volunteers cleared brush and spread mulch in a sprawling lilac garden.
It was punishing work on a July day when temperatures touched 90 before noon, and many workers were retired seniors.
But as money dedicated to maintaining and improving state parks dwindles amid mammoth budget gaps, the work by Dyer — a rangy, 75-year-old retired chemist — and his compatriots has become more necessity than luxury.
After all, if volunteers like them didn't do this labor, who would?
But there are some projects they...