Roll Up Your Sleeves for America’s Lands

This Saturday, folks across the country will be celebrating National Public Lands Day by taking to the streets (and by streets, I mean forests, trails, mountains, lakes, streams, and rivers) to revel in America’s shared backyard.

As the largest volunteer day for America’s public lands, it’s an ideal opportunity to give back. Projects range from trail maintenance to stream restoration, invasive plant removal to tree planting (and more).

We rounded up a few suggested projects where you can lend a hand, and explore the outdoors after you’re done. Browse this interactive map of volunteer events in each state and join the action!

Mt. Rainier National Park (WA)

Marmot taken at Mt. Rainier National Park by Sarah Parslow.

Marmot taken at Mt. Rainier National Park by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Sarah Parslow.

Volunteer Opportunity: Help clean up storm debris, remove invasive species and repair trails. 9am-5pm on Saturday, September 27th at Mt. Rainier National Park, Longmire.

When you’re done: Go for a hike! Check out Mt. Rainier’s Pinnacle Peak Trail. This 2.5 mile, 2 hour hike gives you an amazing view of the second highest peak in the Tatoosh Range.

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (AZ)

Witness the release of California condors, like the one pictured above, this Saturday. Photo courtesy of the USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

Witness the release of California condors, like the one pictured above, this Saturday. Photo courtesy of the USFWS Pacific Southwest Region.

Amazing Wildlife Opportunity: Attend the annual public release of captive-raised California Condors into the wild. The event takes place from 8am-1pm on BLM land between Jacob Lake and Marble Canyon.

An Afternoon in the Canyons: One of my favorite hikes ever, the Buckskin Gulch trailhead in the Vermillion Cliffs National Wilderness Area leads you down into the slot canyons found along the Arizona/Utah border. The trail offers a welcome relief from the desert heat. Just don’t forget your camera!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (MI)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Morning Beach Clean-Up: Led by the National Park Service, this volunteer opportunity is short and sweet. Spend 2 hours (from 10am to noon) making sure these beautiful beaches remain pristine and then spend your afternoon relaxing.

Scenic Stroll: Take the Empire Bluff Trail and enjoy the scenic view overlooking Lake Michigan. This 1.5 mile walk will take you up the bluffs and give you clear views of the beaches you helped clean as well as the crystal clear waters.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (TN)

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)  Photographed at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area by Mark Spangler.

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
Photographed at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area by Mark Spangler.

Volunteer Opportunity: This project is seeking volunteers to help re-build boardwalks, clear brush and build water bars on the Oscar Blevins Loop trail. Work kicks off at 9am, and by 2pm you’ll have earned a break.

Check out the Falls: This Recreation Area is one of the most popular outdoor areas in TN and KY. If you want to check out a different trail than the one you’re working on, try the Angel Falls Overlook Trail. This short hike (only 2.8 miles) begins by crossing a Works Progress Administration bridge built in 1938 and then follows the John Muir trail before heading up the bluffs to give you an awesome view of the falls.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge (ME)

Weasel at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge by Carlos Guindon/USFWS Contractor.

Weasel at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge by Carlos Guindon/USFWS Contractor.

Take a Long Weekend: This volunteer opportunity gives you the chance to play hooky; stop by on Friday or Saturday and help the Fish and Wildlife Service plant native shrubs to reinvigorate the coastal habitat in this wildlife refuge. Check out the sign up page for more details.

New Frontiers: When you’re done planting, check out the newly constructed Timber Point Trail. This trail winds over 97 new acres of refuge land that were acquired in 2011 as the result of a joint campaign by the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, the Trust for Public Lands and with the help of matching funds allocated to Maine through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The trail takes you to the eastern edge of the country, allowing you to truly escape from everyday life.

Can’t Make it Saturday? Take Action.

Take ActionIf you’re looking for a way to celebrate National Public Lands Day that doesn’t involve work gloves or hiking boots, consider signing NWF’s petition asking Congress to Stop Targeting Our Public Lands. Thanks for speaking up and getting outside!

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