By Larry Moore, U.S. Forest Service Office of Communication
National forests and grasslands deliver countless benefits to the American people. They support economies. They create jobs. They’re home to countless species of fish and wildlife. They offer world-class recreation opportunities. They purify our water and air. The list goes on.
National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is a day to give back to these lands that provide us so much; and NPLD is the largest single-day volunteer effort on public lands. Since its conception in 1994, NPLD has continually gained momentum – growing from just 700 to 236,000 volunteers in 2016.
Last year alone, NPLD volunteers generated what is estimated to be $22 million in contributions through various cleanup, maintenance, and improvement projects. In 2016 more than 2,000 sites across the United States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories removed 75 tons of trash, 15 tons of vegetation, built 1,200 miles of trails and planted more than 85,000 trees, shrubs, and native plants on public lands.
This year, the Forest Service’s theme for National Public Lands Day is “learn, play, serve.”
“For more than two decades, National Public Lands Day has made a huge difference in the care of our nation’s public lands,” says Carmen Young, National Public Lands Day Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service, speaking about this year’s NPLD theme.
“But it’s more than just a day of service. It is a day where we can celebrate this incredible system of lands by enjoying them first-hand, and by learning more about the resources, benefits, and experiences they have to offer.”
Each year the National Environmental Education Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and other public, private, and non-profit partners join forces to offer numerous opportunities to learn, play, and serve on national forests, grasslands, and prairies.
National Public Lands Day is on September 30, and that day is a fee-free day, meaning any site that normally charges a fee is free for all at participating locations.
NPLD is not limited to a single day, however; National Public Lands Day will be recognized throughout September and into early October. That means you have multiple chances to come learn, play, and serve. National Public Lands Day celebrations offer fun, learning, and volunteer opportunities for people of all ages and ability. Previous years activities have included bio-blitzes, fishing derbies, trail maintenance, educational activities, and more.
Visit the Forest Service’s National Public Lands Day webpage and see the interactive map for information about signature sites and activities nearest you.