Each year at AWF, we celebrate National Public Lands Day (NPLD) as well as our state's own recognized Public Lands Day (look out for April!). However, a lot of people don't know the history of the day or why it's so important.
The day was originally established in 1994, making this year its 28th Year of being celebrated. NPLD celebrates that wonderful connection that people make with nature and is led by the National Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service and other federal agencies.
In 1994, there were roughly 700 volunteers and just by 2010, that number grew to 170,000 at over 2,000 different sites in the U.S. What can we say? People love nature!
A highlight in the history of NPLD was 2008, when participants hoped to plant 1 million trees for the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They ended up planting over 1.6 million trees, far exceeding their goal.
Every year on NPLD, amazing people from around the U.S. help support public lands through restoration efforts of national forests, clean-ups of urban green spaces, and simply enjoying the abundant public lands we have.
In Arizona, we are lucky to have just over 30 million acres of federal public lands — that's a lot of land to hike through!
So what should you do on NPLD?
Get this...you can visit national parks for free! Consider spending some time enjoying the national parks and forests in Arizona. You may even catch a glimpse of mule or White-tailed Deer, migratory bird species like the Rufous Hummingbird or Cedar Waxwing, or lovely butterflies feeding on milkweed.
Many people also take part in a volunteer work project to help support conservation efforts in their area. You can visit the National Park Services website to find events in your state: https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteerevents.htm.
Finally, if you're still unsure of what you want to do, choose your own adventure for NPLD!