8 Ways to get involved on Public Lands Day this Saturday - Did we mention free park entrance?

Student Conservation Association volunteers take a break from a roadside cleanup project on U.S. Forest Service land near Mount Rainier National Park. National Public Lands Day, 2008.

NPS Photo by Kevin Bacher

While the name may not induce shivers of excitement, don't underestimate the amount of fun and rewards to be had on National Public Lands Day, coming this Saturday, Sept. 29.

What is National Public Lands Day?  Simply put, it's a great day to get out and enjoy wilderness, while also helping conservation efforts on national parks, forests, refuges and other public lands throughout the country.

Whether you're from the East, the West, or anywhere in between, there are plenty of options for getting involved. To get started, here is your list of 8 ways to have fun and make a difference:  

8 ways to get involved on National Public Lands Day

  1. Visit national parks and other public lands - for free! National Public Lands Day is a fee-free day on all lands operated by The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. That includes national and state parks, forests, wildlife refuges and monuments.  
    Find out if your favorite park is free of cost.
    Bonus points: Share this story and encourage family, friends and colleagues to take advantage of the free day. Remember, when people experience wilderness, they are more likely to want to support it. 
  2. Volunteer and get a free public land pass. You can make a valuable contribution to keep the places you love beautiful and accessible by helping work to maintain trails and campsites, remove trash and invasive plants, plant trees or clean shorelines. You'll also receive free public land passes good for up to a year! Sign up to participate at one of the 2,000 sites nationwide.
  3. Join a Friends Group. Find out if your favorite park or forest has a Friends Group so that you can stay involved in volunteer activities all year. 
  4. Get outside with kids. Help expose the next generation to the joys of outdoor recreational activities like hiking, biking, fishing and birding. You can get ideas and find out about events from First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Initiative."  
  5. Contact your representatives. The current U.S. Congress is one of the most anti-wilderness congresses in modern history. Not only have they introduced bill after bill undermining conservation in favor of industry, they have also allowed 27 good wilderness bills to stall. Find your representatives and let them know that you support public lands. Join our WildAlert network to learn about opportunities to get involved. 
  6. Participate in an Adopt-a-Crag event. If you are a climber, you may want to check out how to get involved with this project
  7. Take pictures of how you made a difference. You can share them via social media and/or enter the official NPLD photo contest and win prizes from REI. 
  8. Support The Wilderness Society. Even if you can do the activities above, a gift to The Wilderness Society is an excellent way to support public lands. Our scientists, field organizers and communicators are working to build support for public wild lands and to fend off the many attacks Congress has made on the nation's wildlands this year. Join us in protecting our amazing public outdoor spaces!

Why does protecting wilderness matter? See this infographic