Organizing the largest single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands in the country, National Public Lands Day, is no easy feat for the U.S. Forest Service. That’s 40 days of volunteer projects, BioBlitzes, fishing derbies, and educational events, all of which are registered with the National Environmental Education Foundation, the organization that started National Public Lands Day 23 years ago.
Despite its origins as a volunteer event, National Public Lands Day is more than just service. This year’s tagline, Learn, Play, and Volunteer, emphasizes connecting people with the natural world through education and recreation as well as volunteerism, and partnerships forming around this year’s events embody NPLD’s expanding scope. The focus is Every Kid in a Park: a multi-agency effort to connect fourth-graders with their public lands through educational events and year-long free passes to national forests and parks.
For Carmen Young, the Forest Service Public Lands Day lead, it’s a labor of love. "It was so great seeing all the kids playing outside, learning about how water comes from forests and gets to our faucets, and contributing to water monitoring efforts in the D.C. area,” said Young.
This year’s events are already in the works: from trail clearing to citizen science, there’s something for everyone. National Public Lands Day runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 10 on Forest Service sites all over America.