National Public Lands Day is Saturday, and local public land lovers will have a variety of ways they can mark the occasion.
First organized 30 years ago by the National Environmental Education Foundation, the annual event is celebrated on the fourth Saturday in September each year.
The big perk comes in the form of fee-free days at many locations, including Washington’s state parks and sites managed by the National Park Service.
But the heart of the event, and its original purpose, is volunteering. The National Environmental Education Foundation’s website touts the event as the “largest single-day volunteer event for public lands.”
In the past decade, more than 1 million volunteers have spent close to 5 million hours doing work like maintaining trails, picking up trash and planting vegetation on the annual day, according to the foundation. The foundation estimates the value of that service at $133 million.
The theme for this year is “30 Years of Care and Commitment,” and thousands of volunteer events are planned nationwide.
Locally, volunteers will be able to take part in building a rock turnpike along the Fishtrap Loop Trail outside of Sprague.
The project, which is being overseen by the Washington Trails Association and the Bureau of Land Management, will create a 35-foot crossing at a spot where water crosses the trail during parts of the year.
Volunteers are required to register with WTA and the BLM to participate. The WTA’s registration site is available at www.wta.org/volunteer/schedule/workparty/a2mPB0000000Q49/. BLM registration will take place onsite Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. at the Fishtrap Loop Trail south trailhead parking lot.
The workday will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers are being asked to wear boots and to bring leather gloves and a bag lunch.
In Post Falls, volunteers can help the BLM plant shrubs in the Cougar Bay wetland area. Those participating will meet at the Ross Point Recreation Site at 9 a.m., and they’ll use a combination of tools to put the shrubs in the ground. The event will end by 1 p.m.
More information on that event is available at www.neefusa.org/npld/ross-point-recreation-site/ross-point-recreation-site-shrub-planting.
Meanwhile, The Lands Council is planning a pair of guided hikes in Riverside State Park and in North Idaho to mark the day. At Riverside, hikers will meet at Bowl and Pitcher and hike Trail 25 starting at 9 a.m.
In North Idaho, the group will hike the Pulaski Tunnel Trail. Participants will meet at the trailhead at 10 a.m.
Advance registration is required for both hikes.
More information is available at landscouncil.org/events/public-lands-day.