September 21, 2011

It’s an annual day of caring for the land that we share. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public parks and land.┬áThe event will take place across the nation this Saturday, September 24. The yearly tradition started in 1994 with 700 volunteers and has grown every year since. More than 170,000 volunteers in every state removed an estimated 450 tons of trash during National Public Lands Day last year. They also removed about 20,000 pounds of invasive plants and planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and native plants.

National Public Lands Day keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, often called the ‘tree army’, that worked from 1933 to 1942 to preserve and protect America’s natural heritage. Volunteer events are being held at national parks, coastal areas, city and county parks and neighborhood green spaces. In addition to the time and energy donated to help maintain and preserve public land, the event is also about educating Americans about critical environmental and natural resource issues and the need for shared stewardship of valued land.

At South Mountain Park in Arizona, volunteers will be asked to clean trails and remove graffiti. Scuba divers and kayakers will help remove trash from the water at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. In Seattle, volunteers will be helping with trail construction projects at East Tiger Summit Trail. Also this Saturday, the National Park Service is waiving entrance fees to more than 100 national parks across the country. The park service is also hosting a Worldwide Day of Play that encourages children to get up and get active.