The birds chirp. The breeze hushes. You step back and take a deep breath. The water calms. It is going to be a great day. You probably want to know when and what is Naitonal Public Lands Day? For conservationists and environmentalists, the holiday is a great stride forward towards environmental justice. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is a great milestone in conservation efforts.
The 4th Saturday of September – the 22nd for 2018
First off, when is the holiday. National Public Lands Day happens every fourth Saturday of September. Often times, it tends to be the last Saturday. While the most recent one has passed, you can find future dates for NPLD below.
Dates for NPLD – Time to Plan Ahead
September 22, 2018
September 28, 2019
September 26, 2020
September 25, 2021
September 24, 2022
About the Holiday – a Great Boon for Public Lands
The holiday was first founded in 1994 by seven federal agencies and 700 volunteers to celebrate conservation and enjoyment as I will discuss later.
It is one of four days you can visit national parks for free. The other days are Martin Luther King Jr. Day (the third Monday of January), the first day of national park week (in April each year), and Veteran’s Day (November 11th), making NPLD a rare occasion throughout the year. So be sure to get out and enjoy nature because this national holiday only comes once a year.
In 2010, National Public Lands Day set a holiday breaking record for volunteer turn out at 170,000 people participating across 2,000 sites nationwide, a truly great year. By a wide margin, the holiday is the single largest volunteer event for Public Lands. If you want to volunteer and connect with other environmental activists, then this is the day to do it. You will meet all sorts of people on NPLD.
Often times, there could be the goal of planting trees as was done in 2008 when 1.6 million trees were planted to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Civilian Conservation Corps. In 2009 for example, PBS aired a movie preview to commemorate the holiday. Each year though, the goals and festivities change. Each year is different and open for new experiences.
Where it can happen, though, remains the same. If it is public land, then it is free to enter and take part in NPLD. This can be a state park, waterway, community garden, school grounds, or anything else of the sort. If it is public land, then anyone can set up a NPLD event for the site.
The Twins Goals of NPLD – Enjoyment and Conservation
Back when it was founded in 1994, NPLD had two twin goals in mind, enjoyment and volunteer conservation.
Enjoyment, Grab Your Day Pack and Get Outside
For all public lands on the fourth Saturday of September, you can get in anywhere for free. Yup, that is right. Free! If you have been dying to take your whole family to your neighborhood national park, then this is definitely the day to do it. While the parks will be quite busy, they will be free, saving you a lot of money in the process.
For this reason, be sure to get to a park early. NPLD is, if not the busiest day of they year for most parks, close to the tippy top of busy. You will find a lot of people at these parks trying to take advantage of this excellent deal. If you want to really enjoy the scenery, then go to a park near you bright and early in the morning.
You also want to make sure you go to one of the bigger parks. The smaller national parks generally do not charge an entrance fee year round but the larger ones do, so go to one of the bigger parks to save big.
Conservation – Saving for Future Generations
This holiday is the US’s largest volunteer day for all public lands, providing a great opportunity to pick up trash and enjoy nature. Do not worry though. If you volunteer on NPLD, you get a free entrance voucher to enter any public lands later. Even if you volunteer, you do not miss out on the joy of outdoors at all. You can come back again when it is not so crowded and save big at the same time.
The intent behind NPLB’s volunteer conservation is that anyone can help make our national parks better. You do not have to be a big name environmentalist or a billionaire interested in conservation. You can improve the world with just a bit of work. Even a little help goes a long way.
If you want to volunteer, then you can take part in planting trees, removing trash, repairing structures and habitats, and much, much more. When you volunteer, you help to reduce the over $10 billion backlog of repairs needed for the national parks. There is a lot of work to do.
From the beginning of September to early October, public lands events will be happening all around the country. If you missed National Public Lands Day this year, do not fret. There is probably an event near you where you can get involved in the Fall.
Our public lands need our help. Each and every day, they come under attack from governments and big corporations. For you and future generations, we need to each do our part. In a previous article, I wrote about the top ten environmental groups, organizations, and charities you can donate to. Take the extra time to do right by the Earth and check out the article.
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF)
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is the chief backer of the National Public Lands Day. It is their signature event. Each and every year, they do the bulk of the work to organize NPLD, setting up sites and preparing for the volunteers to come.
The purpose of the organization is to secure a safer and healthier world for ourselves, our children, and for generations to come. Much of their work focuses on connecting everyday Americans with the environment. They want regular people, not high profile environmentalists or big shot activists, but you. They have a bold vision: by 2022, 300 million Americans actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people.
From year to year, they select a different theme for the holiday’s festivities. For 2018, it was resilience and restoration. In other words, our natural resources are resilient and strong, but only when we take care of them. They won’t last forever if we neglect them. Who knows what next year’s theme will be?
In anticipation of the day, they work with the Departments of the Interior, the Army, and Agriculture to prepare for the big day. There are also numerous government agencies that participate in the event: the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, and US Army Corps of Engineers.
Are You Ready to Take the High Road of the Activist?
I write these final words to ask if you are willing to make a difference. Our public lands need our help. The global pollution epidemic is wreaking havoc on our planet, destroying homes and ruining lives. Each day that we do not act only amplifies the effects of climate change. I ask you to check out the link below. It will show you events all around the country where you can get involved. There is probably one near you. Are you ready to take action with the click of your mouse?
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, please comment below and remember to share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!