Washington, D.C. – On September 25, more than 170,000 Americans will grab shovels, pruning sheers and gloves to help improve the nation’s public lands as part of National Public Lands Day, an annual event held at local, state and federal sites throughout the country.
“Wherever Americans go outdoors to explore, fish, hike, hunt, paddle, or just enjoy nature, that location is likely to be a candidate for a National Public Lands Day event,” says Robb Hampton, director of National Public Lands Day, a program of the National Environmental Education Foundation. “For 2010, we have a special focus on recreation, volunteerism and how those who use public lands for sport can play a large part in protecting habitat and improving the quality of public lands for everyone.”
In line with the special focus on recreation, National Public Lands Day is reaching out to the sportsmen community as an important source of volunteers for this year’s event. Hunters and anglers spend much of their time outdoors, particularly on public lands. They are often the first to notice the effects of trash, invasive species, habitat loss and misuse of land on the local wildlife.
“Sportsmen and women have a long, distinguished record of volunteering for projects that restore and sustain fish and wildlife populations and their habitats on public lands,” says Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist for the Bureau of Land Management. “National Public Lands Day gives them a great opportunity to continue in that proud tradition.”
This year, National Public Lands Day is anticipating volunteer projects on more than 2,300 sites. Many of the projects are directed towards sportsmen and improving access to public lands; for example:
● In Grand Junction, Colorado, volunteers will clean up and remove trash from a popular public shooting area on BLM land.
● At Gerber Recreation Area in Langell, Oregon, volunteers are asked to construct goose nest structures and bird houses, cut wood for senior citizens and perform trail maintenance.
● Volunteers in New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will participate in a lake shore clean-up that includes painting a wildlife blind and removing debris from the sportsman’s boat ramp area.
● At the Arden Hills Army Training Site in Minnesota, volunteers are needed to install loon nesting platforms, remove invasive species, build trail shelter and plant native species.
● In Lakewood, Colorado, volunteers will improve fishing access trails, stabilize the shoreline, construct hardened fishing sites and install artificial cribs for fish habitat.
To find a nearby project, visit the National Public Lands Day website.
Individual sportsmen are also encouraged to develop their own National Public Lands Day volunteer project. By contacting the manager of their favorite recreational area, sportsmen can design a volunteer project that benefits the public land and the experiences of hunters and anglers. Ideas for projects include, building wood duck boxes, removing trash from recreational areas and planting native shrubs for bird habitat. Visit the National Public Lands Day website to learn more about starting a project.
“The growth of the program and its impact in beautifying and preserving public lands has been tremendous,” Hampton says. “We’re predicting 2010 will be the biggest National Public Lands Day yet and we’re looking forward to seeing a record number of sportsmen out helping protect public lands.”
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) provides knowledge to trusted professionals who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve everyday environmental problems. Together, we generate lasting positive change.
NEEF partners with professionals in health, education, media, business and public land management to promote daily actions for helping people protect and enjoy the environment. Through its primary programs – Classroom Earth, National Public Lands Day, National Environmental Education Week, Business and Environment, Earth Gauge® and Health & Environment – the organization offer Americans knowledge to live by. To learn more, call (202) 833-2933 or visit the National Environmental Education Foundation website.