Each year on Public Lands Day, people across the United States volunteer to improve the nation’s parks, preserves and conservation areas.

Held on the last Saturday in September, Public Lands Day dates back to 1994. Sara Espinoza, Managing Director at the National Environmental Education Foundation, says volunteers are often motivated out of gratitude for the many benefits these areas provide.

National Public Lands Day logo

Espinoza: “It can be building and maintaining trails, planting trees, building pollinator gardens. There’s just a plethora of activities that take place on National Public Lands Day, and it’s all designed to lend a hand to our public lands managers, and actually give back some service to these lands that are there for all of us to enjoy.”

These areas are more than a place to hike and play. They also help to slow the effects of climate change.

Espinoza: “Public Lands from the federal all the way down to the local area really play an important role in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration. The national parks alone absorb fourteen million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.”

So taking part in Public Lands Day is also a way to fight climate change. More information can be found at http://www.PublicLandsDay.org.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Jason Jackson.

More Resources
Report: National parks contributed almost $30 billion to economy in 2014
Public Lands Day website
National Environmental Education Foundation

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...