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National Public Lands Day brings people together
Up and at ’em! Saturday, September 25 is the ideal day to grab your hiking boots, suntan lotion, and bottled water. Then head out to improve America’s public lands. This 17th annual National Public Lands Day will bring together thousands of volunteers who will toil building bridges and trails, improving wildlife habitat, eliminating invasive species, picking up trash, and planting trees.

In 2008, volunteers planted an estimated 1.6 million trees and removed trash at nearly 1900 sites. Workers at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado dismantled a damaged water catchment device. Volunteers will work in parks and forests, at rivers, lakes, and wetlands. In 2009, the focus was on water and volunteers were called for shoreline beautification, to stabilize stream channels, to improve boat ramps, or to test water quality in streams and rivers.

National Public Lands Day is a program of the National Environmental Education Foundation. Program Director Robb Hampton says participation has grown dramatically since its beginning in 1994. “That first year, we had 700 volunteers at a handful of public sites. This year we’re expecting more than 130,000 at about 2,000 locations.”

A partial listing of large-scale projects planned for National Public Lands Day can be found at www.publiclandsday.com. You can find sites listed by ZIP code or by state. Be sure to take your camera to participate in the photo contest that shows everyone what a group of dedicated volunteers can accomplish. Winning photos will be used for National Public Lands Day promotions.

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