As the waning, sweltering summer days transition to the cooler weather of autumn many people take the opportunity to give back by participating in the annual National Public Lands Day.
The Sept. 27 event, in its 21st year, is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands. Last year, more than 175,000 volunteers at 2,237 sites worked hard, collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, planted about 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plans and removed an estimated 500 tons of trash.
“On National Public Lands Day, we welcome you to join trail maintenance projects, campouts, shoreline cleanups and much more,” said U.S. Forest Chief Tom Tidwell. “Volunteering on a project on this special day will provide a rare opportunity to learn about safe outdoor recreation and natural resources conservation, and may even offer a glimpse of wildlife that you don't get to see every day.”
Many national forests and grasslands are hosting events. Not only is this a great time to refresh and rejuvenate outside, it’s also a perfect time to engage in community activities and learn about the great outdoors. Check with your local forest or grassland to see if they are participating or search the list of events. Be sure to click on the RSVP link if you plan to attend.
Events on the 156 Forest Service sites are varied.
For example, the Lolo National Forest in Montana will work on the Sawmill Gulch Trail in the Rattlesnake Recreation Area. Volunteers will dig a scenic mountain bike re-route and naturalize an old trail. Participants should bring gloves, clothing suitable to outdoor work and for the weather. Bring water. Partners in the event include Montana Conservation Corps, REI, National Forest Foundation and Mountain Biking Missoula.
The Friends of Nevada Wilderness will help restore lower portions of the Mount Charleston at Spring Mountains National Recreation Area trail. Volunteers 16 and older will learn trail maintenance techniques through hands-on practice. Volunteers are asked to wear long pants, long sleeves, sturdy shoes, and whatever else needed to be comfortable on the trail for the day. Great Basin Institute also will partner with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
In Milford, Pennsylvania, volunteers at the Grey Towers National Historic Site can help stabilize an important section of the Forest Discovery Trail. Storms and time have taken their toll on sections of the trail and volunteers are needed to help to repair the damage. The group will reinforce the trail surface by spreading wood chips along it. Grey Towers was once the summer estate of the James Pinchot family and later the primary home of Gifford Pinchot, America’s first forester and first U.S. Forest Service chief.
National Public Lands Day is sponsored by National Environmental Education Foundation and supports the Forest Service mission, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside! campaign and President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.