The focus of National Public Lands Day is to instill a sense of shared stewardship and educate the public about the importance of natural resources. More than 170,000 volunteers are expected to provide assistance in the nation’s largest, hands-on volunteer effort to improve America’s public lands.
“We appreciate the work of so many volunteers who help us care for our special lands,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “National Public Lands Day is a great opportunity for families to visit our national forests, experience the beauty of fall foliage, and perhaps be motivated to join in with other volunteers and help us restore America’s precious natural resources.”
Scheduled events support President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside Initiative. Activities planned on Forest Service locations include trail maintenance, river clean-ups and tree plantings.
Last year’s National Public Lands Day efforts resulted in building an estimated 1,500 miles of trails; planting an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants; removing an estimated 500 tons of trash from recreation sites and contributing an estimated $17 million through volunteer services to improve public lands.
Participants can click on the public lands day site to find a location nearby or go to the new rec.gov website that helps visitors plan activities and make camping reservations on national forests and other federal lands throughout the year.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.