National Public Lands Day 2022
If you are looking to get outdoors, a great opportunity to hit the trails is National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 24. Each year the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) organizes this event to inspire people to learn about and volunteer on public lands. National Public Lands Day, the largest volunteer day of the year, encourages people to connect with the outdoors in the spirit of volunteerism.
Giving Back Together
For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic strengthened their connection with the outdoors. At a time when many were confined to their homes, the outdoors acted as a safe haven and outlet for curiosity and relaxation. That is why this year’s theme is “Giving Back Together,” so we can return the favor and appreciate the important role the outdoors play in our lives. By volunteering, we are not only creating a positive effect on our planet now, but also for future generations to come.
National Public Lands Day is one of 12 fee-free days, meaning a Discover Pass is not needed on lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), State Parks, or the Department of Fish & Wildlife. Entrance fees are also waived at National Parks and other federal public lands in Washington, including sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense.
How Volunteers Give Back to DNR
Hundreds of volunteers roll up their sleeves and contribute their time and energy year-round to help preserve, restore and improve DNR-managed lands.
In the first eight months of 2022, more than 1,000 volunteers logged an estimated 12,000 hours. Work parties across the state worked on numerous projects like building fences, cleaning up trash and clearing overgrown areas. If you want to get involved and make an impact on our lands, visit our website to find a volunteer party near you.
DNR Volunteer Projects
Striped Peak is a 7.5-mile trail on the Olympic Peninsula. Dozens of volunteers, along with six Washington Trails Association staff, logged more than 11,000 hours from 2018 to spring of 2022. The finished product was a 4.5-mile extension to the existing trail that created a loop and provided access to Striped Peak itself.
The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers hosted a clean-up event in July at a recreation site popular for target shooting in Snohomish County. Fourteen volunteers logged a combined 80 hours picking up trash and speaking with target shooters about responsible practices. In one day, they collected two tons of garbage.
In May and June of 2015, volunteers contributed 762 hours of their time to help with access and maintenance of BBQ Flats, a popular spot for camping and horseback riding in Yakima County. The majority of the volunteers were from Back Country Horsemen of Washington.
Volunteers built elk fence and field fence along a new road to help funnel the public accessing BBQ Flats through private land onto state land. They also helped place and install three vault toilets and improve the water trough for equestrian use. This project provides long-term public access to BBQ Flats.
A majority of our Green Dot Road sign maintenance and litter control is done by volunteers. Before COVID-19, they would donate over 1,000 volunteer hours annually in Yakima and Kittitas counties.
The Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) in the Skagit Chapter offer 10 to 20 volunteers each month for various projects, mostly focusing on rerouting trails out of the drainage and side hill for easier riding and more efficient drainage.
National Trails Day
For National Trails Day, one-day projects like trail maintenance are created to accomplish a task and bring the sense of ownership and success to the day. Volunteers from WTA and other volunteer groups were able to contribute to inclusive projects that impact our trails. Trail maintenance is important to keep hikers safe while exploring public lands.
Article by Britnie Monaghan, communications intern.