By Elizabeth Aldenderfer
Park Stewardship Trail Crew Intern
September 28, 2019, was the 26th annual National Public Lands Day. The fourth Saturday of September every year is a party to celebrate our public green spaces! Seven hundred volunteers participated in the first National Public Lands Day, and after 25 years, the day has grown exponentially. More than 100,000 nature-lovers join together to celebrate, honor, and steward outdoor spaces.
The National Environmental Education Foundation creates a theme for every National Public Lands Day—2019’s was “Connecting to Nature Through Service.” Volunteers stewarded beaches and trails, cared for community gardens, rode trails and paddled lakes, and learned about their parks at festivals. Past National Public Lands Days have focused on specific themes; for example, 1.6 million new trees were planted in 2008 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
In addition to building community and beautifying public spaces, National Public Lands Day creates opportunities to take advantage of the immense mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors. Taking a walk in a park improves concentration, both short- and long-term memory, and community ties. Simply observing, smelling, and listening to nature reduces stress, improves mood, and helps you focus.
As if that’s not enough to get you excited about the great outdoors, most national parks, monuments, and recreation areas are free on National Public Lands Day! (If you missed it, the next fee-free day is November 11.) Remember, almost all sites in the GGNRA are always free, so we hope to see you out reveling in your public lands soon!