A Very Special Earth Day in January


Muir Woods volunteer

An Earth Day event in January, you ask? But, how can that be? Isn’t Earth Day on April 22? Well, yes. But this is a very special Earth Day event. In fact, it’s the longest-running and most well-attended event in the entire Golden Gate National Parks.

In 2013, Muir Woods National Monument will hold its 22nd annual Earth Day event, on January 26. But why January? To find the answer, we have to return to the roots—literally.

The very first Muir Woods Earth Day event was indeed held on April 22, back in 1991. The event was a great success, but the only problem was that many of the plants that were planted in the woods had a very poor survival rate, because the rains had lessened and the soil was starting to dry up.

In following years, the event was pushed to an earlier and earlier date, until eventually it was agreed that the event was best held sometime in January. Our restoration work that involves planting is always done in the wet winter months, to ensure the most successful results for our efforts after events such as Muir Woods Earth Day.


Now, we are ready to invite over 200 eager volunteers to come and join us. We have plenty of projects, varying in intensity, required skill, and activity type—from restoration to maintenance. There’s something for everyone!

The day will begin at 8:30 am with registration and some milling around the Muir Woods plaza entrance, until the fun starts at 9 am with a welcome message from National Park Service and Conservancy staff.  Then it’s off to a project site, where you will learn from knowledgeable staff how to accomplish the task at hand.

By noon, the groups will meet back at the plaza entrance for the conclusion of the event—featuring lunch, a display showing all of the amazing accomplishments of the day, and plenty of time for relaxing with your Muir Woods Earth Day cohorts for the rest of the afternoon.

For projects, you can choose to plant native plants with our nursery crew around the Muir Woods plaza entrance, or join the stewardship crews at Muir Beach and Dias Ridge, where thousands of plants will eventually be planted over the winter planting season. Working alongside the Habitat Restoration team and staff and interns of the Conservancy, you will have plenty of invasive plants to pull, like forget-me-nots and French broom.

For the heartier volunteer, there will be rocks to haul and work to be done on the Hillside Trail with the trails crew. The maintenance crew will need help painting curbs and washing and stenciling cones. We will also need help with picking up trash along Muir Woods Road and down at Muir Beach.

With the completion of a new boardwalk in Muir Woods last year, the rangers will need a hand with keeping the walkways tidy by flossing and sweeping up leafy debris—and then bringing that mulch to areas that need a little bit of decomposing plant material.

There will also be activities geared toward families with children of all ages, so be sure to bring them along. We even have cute little wheelbarrows, tools, and gloves for the youngest members of the family!

If you decide to come, be prepared for rain. It almost always rains the day of the event--either a nice light sprinkle or a torrential downpour. Even in the pouring rain, volunteers always seem happy to be a part of the fun! We will provide gloves, tools, and any training needed for each activity. Lunch will be provided by the Muir Woods Trading Company Café and Rustic Bakery at the end of the event.

Stick around in the afternoon to enjoy a special hike in Muir Woods with a park ranger and Conservancy staff. It is even possible that the Hillside Trail will be completed, so volunteers can get a sneak preview of the amazing work done by Trails Forever and their volunteer crews. You might even get lucky and see an endangered coho salmon spawning in Redwood Creek!

Visitors to the woods after the event will be blissfully unaware of all the amazing work accomplished by a band of 200 individuals. They will have no idea of how many plants were planted, weeds were weeded, rocks were hauled, trails maintained, curbs painted, cones washed and stenciled, trash removed, and boardwalks tidied.

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces in the early morning light at Muir Woods Earth Day, eager and ready to get hundreds of hours’ worth of work done in just three hours.

For more details and to sign up, please contact our volunteer voordinators at volunteer@parksconservancy.org

Chelsea is the manager of the Redwood Creek Nursery, and has been working in nurseries her entire career

Your parks need you now

Your support helps fight climate change and promote park sustainability—please give now.