Sep 22, 2007

National Public Lands Day

On September 29, 2007, thousands of Americans will participate in National Public Lands Day, an annual event that is a program of the National Environmental Education Foundation, which promotes volunteerism on all publicly accessible lands at the federal, state, and local levels.

Last year, 100,000 citizens participated in events held all across the country — with a value of $1.8 million in labor — and this year the event organizers are hoping to top that total by an additional 10,000 participants.

On September 29, citizens who visit participating public lands will get free entry, and volunteers will get a coupon for free entry on another day during the next year if the project site is managed by the National Park Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Many public lands at the state level are also participating and will also offer free admission for the day.

The main focus of this year’s event is removing invasive species, which cause great destruction on public lands by pushing out native plants and animals. Battling invasive species costs the government $120 billion a year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so volunteers working on invasive species projects will not only be improving their local lands, they’ll also be saving the government a good bit of money.

Not all projects will be about invasive species though. Some groups, such as the Sierra Club, will work to restore lands in the hurricane belt that are still struggling with their recovery efforts. Several national wildlife refuges, such as Chincoteague NWR and Back Bay NWR in Virginia, will hold beach cleanups, and many refuges out West will perform trail maintenance, thus improving safe access to public lands.

Toyota is the national sponsor for National Public Lands Day, and this is their ninth consecutive year of support for the event. Many volunteers plan to meet up at their local Toyota dealership and carpool to their public land sites from there.

Be sure to visit the National Public Lands Day website to learn more about this year’s event. Also check out the Find A Site database on their website to see what events will he held in your state.

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