Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted. – President Lyndon Johnson
Where do you go to enjoy the great outdoors? Do you set out on a hike through the woods? Take a quick dip in a cool mountain lake?
Where do you go to find peace? Do you feel it in the quiet inner sanctum of a giant sequoia grove? Do you hear it in the sound of the wind dancing through a meadow? Does it fall upon you slowly, as you watch birds soar high above in the remote backcountry?
Time spent outside is inarguably good for our physical and mental health. It has positive effects on our blood pressure, stress levels, and outlook on life. It provides an opportunity for adventure, or an escape from the demands of work. Nature is something we can enjoy with friends and family to reconnect and grow closer through shared experiences. Or it is a place we might seek alone, to think and reflect and re-center.
We take so much benefit and enjoyment from our country’s natural and cultural resources. 300 million people visited national parks, and half a billion spent time on public lands last year. And all this traffic can take a toll. Our resources are resilient, but only if we treat them right and give them the care they need. Why not take a moment to give something back? This Saturday provides the perfect opportunity to do so.
September 22, 2018, is National Public Lands Day (NPLD). This is great excuse to enjoy the outdoors and hopefully offer a few hours of your time to help take care of our public lands.
Public Lands are not just national parks. They also include monuments, wildlife refuges, forests, grasslands, marine sanctuaries, lakes, and reservoirs, as well as state, county, and city parks that are managed by public agencies, but that belong to, and are enjoyed by, all of us.
National Public Lands Day is held on the fourth Saturday of September every year and is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. Each year, NPLD volunteers provide tens of millions of dollars’ worth of services in one day that would otherwise take limited park staff months to accomplish. Anyone can volunteer, as an individual or part of a larger organization. Bring your family, friends, neighbors, classmates, students, or coworkers to spend the day outdoors giving back to your community by pulling invasive species, maintaining trails, picking up trash, and more.
Many NPLD celebrations go beyond volunteer events to include recreational and educational activities, like hikes, bike rides, paddling, bird watching, and water quality testing. To encourage people to join the fun, NPLD is a fee-free day for national parks and most other federal public lands, state parks, and other local places.
Public Lands belong to everyone. Volunteering on National Public Lands Day is a great way to give back. There are several great resources available to you if you are hosting an event or looking to get involved as a volunteer:
- The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) has an incredible website with information about NPLD and an entire promotional toolkit. To learn more, register an event, or find an event near you, visit NEEFusa.org/NPLD
- The Department of Interior also has a site devoted to National Public Lands Day. You can find their information at https://www.doi.gov/video/national-public-lands-day.
- Volunteer opportunities can also be found at volunteer.gov.
We love our Public Lands. Let’s all help protect and preserve them!