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Public lands in the United States are conservation areas that have been set aside and preserved for the benefit of enjoyment by people today and also to keep them well and protected for the future. Across the nation there are more than 400 national parks, 500+ wildlife refuges, almost 250 million acres of additional public land! 

And while the general upkeep of these lands is funded by tax dollars, there is a limit to what that can do. Many times the funding does not provide adequate care to make the lands as beautiful as they could be. So when communities, scout troops, families, conservation groups and others work together as volunteers, these public lands can continue to be preserved for many generations to come.

And that’s what National Public Lands Day is all about!

History of National Public Lands Day

Since 1994, National Public Lands Day has been observed in the United States with the purpose of inspiring and organizing volunteers to help restore public lands all throughout the nation. The day was originally called Public Lands Appreciation Day and was organized by Times Mirror Magazine, collaborating with the Bureau of Land Management. This first event involved just two public land sites and included at least 700 volunteers and took place on July 30 of that year.

Today, the event has moved dates and is observed in late September, after the heat of the summer ends and there are hundreds of thousands of people who volunteer in parks and public land areas all over the country. In more recent years, National Public Lands Day has become a signature collaborative effort that is sponsored by the National Environmental Education Foundation and involves many more federal agencies to become the largest single-day volunteer event that is dedicated to keeping and maintaining public lands. The day continues to promote volunteers and community support while also reminding everyone about the enjoyment and benefits that come from public lands.

How to Celebrate National Public Lands Day

Looking for ideas on how to get involved with and celebrate National Public Lands Day? Check out some of these ideas to get started with:

Volunteer for National Public Lands Day

The best way to get involved with this important day dedicated to care and preservation is to contact the local branch of the National Parks Service to find out what events are being held in honor of National Public Lands Day. Plus, at national parks that charge an entrance fee, the fee is often waived in honor of this day. 

Organize a Clean Up

People who aren’t near a national park or who would rather keep things closer to home can certainly still get involved with National Public Lands Day! Gather a group of friends, co-workers, scouts troops, youth groups or others to spend this day volunteering to do a cleanup at a local city park, public beach, lake or other community space. It’s a great way for people to come together and make a difference in their local area. 

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