From the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes to the Texas prairies to the Pacific Coast—and at a thousand places in between—volunteers will gather rakes, shovels and trash bags to help improve public lands around the country for the 26th annual National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 28. More than 100,000 volunteers are expected to join in trail maintenance projects, park and river clean ups, tree planting activities, invasive species removal projects, as well as hikes and other fun activities throughout the country.
Events will take place in 49 states and will be held in local parks, state parks, battlefield parks and many of the country’s iconic national parks, including Grand Canyon, Everglades, Mt. Rainier, Grand Teton, Zion, Joshua Tree, Shenandoah, Rocky Mountain and Yosemite. The Yosemite event even involves rappelling to remove trash from the edges of El Capitan and Mount Watkins. The day is a fee-free day for all national parks as well as many state and local parks.
Led by the National Environmental Education Foundation, with support from NPLD national corporate sponsor Toyota, seven federal agency partners, hundreds of state and local partners, and dozens of nonprofit organizations, National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands. Organizers estimate NPLD volunteers contributed an estimated $11 million worth of services to public lands during last year’s NPLD celebration.
“Volunteers are absolutely vital to parks across the country,” said National Environmental Education Foundation President and CEO, Meri-Margaret Deoudes. “National Public Lands Day connects people to nature through service. It is the perfect opportunity to care for our public lands while spending time with family and friends and taking advantage of all the benefits that come from spending time outdoors.”
Among NPLD events, NEEF is partnering with the National Park Service, Rock Creek Conservancy and Toyota to host an event at this year’s NPLD Signature Site, Rock Creek Park—one of the country’s oldest national parks and largest urban parks. At the event, Toyota will announce a $200,000 grant to restore biodiversity and protect critical habitats by managing invasive species across the National Capital Region, encompassing parts of Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The project is being implemented by the Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management.
“This grant helps parks to effectively reduce invasive plant impacts and increase habitat for threatened native wildlife,” said Kevin Butt, general manager, Toyota Environmental Sustainability. “It ties in with our biodiversity goals and aim to conserve habitat for future generations.”
National Public Lands Day Events
A sample of events across the country include:
Yosemite National Park: One of the largest NPLD events, the annual Facelift at Yosemite National Park is expected to draw 2,000 volunteers out for a park-wide clean-up. Organized by the Yosemite National Park Volunteer Office and the Yosemite Climbing Association, Facelift attracts climbers from all over the world who spend up to a week giving back to this premier climbing spot. Athletes from The North Face and Black Diamond will be teaming up with the Yosemite Climbing Stewards and Climbing Management Team to rappel and remove trash left on ledges on El Capitan and Mount Watkins.
Dog Beach in San Diego: At the San Diego River Mouth near Dog Beach in Ocean Beach, NPLD volunteers will help restore one of the last remaining coastal dunes and wetland habitats in California. Volunteers will spend the morning removing invasive plants, watering and caring for recent plantings, refurbishing trails, and working on a garden art project.
Mount Rainier: With more than 1.5 million visitors passing through Mount Rainier National Park between Memorial Day and Labor Day, park staff rely on NPLD volunteers to spruce up the mountain after a summer of wear and tear and help get the site ready for winter. NPLD volunteers will help refurbish the park’s 260-miles of trails and restore meadowlands.
Grand Canyon: At the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service staff will work with NPLD Volunteers to use hand tools to construct a 1/2 mile trail around Pakoon Springs.
Everglades National Park is looking for volunteers willing to get their hands dirty to come spend the day tending to the native plant gardens and grounds of the Gulf Coast Visitor Center.
Cape Cod: An All-Cape Beach Cleanup will be conducted at least one beach in each of the 15 towns compromising Cape Cod. Approximately 1000 volunteers are expected.
El Yunque National Forest in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico: At nearly 29,000 acres, the El Yunque National Forest (EYNF) in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico is the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system, and also one of the most biologically diverse. NPLD volunteers will spend the day refurbishing the El Toro Trail, which was badly damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Dozens of elementary and intermediate school students are expected to be among the volunteers.
“The National Park Service is proud to partner with NEEF for another successful National Public Lands Day, which brings people and communities together. The work completed by volunteers at NPS sites across the country help ensure that Americans of all ages and abilities can connect with our public lands for recreation, education, and community-building—now and in the future,” said Lenny Teh, program manager, Service-wide Volunteers-In-Parks, National Park Service.
Participating federal sites reward volunteers with a coupon good for another free entry to any public land managed by one of the NPLD federal partners any time before National Public Lands Day 2020.
With a thousand activities planned for the day, there are ample opportunities for people throughout the country to join the celebration and make plans to spend the day volunteering on public lands. NEEF’s interactive map allows users to enter their zip code to find events close to home—or wherever they happen to be on National Public Lands Day. More events will be added to the map throughout the month.
Learn more about National Public Lands Day and check out events happening throughout the country at NEEFUSA.org/NPLD.