Dozens of projects around the state are planned for Sept. 28, the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. More than 2,000 events will take place across the nation, drawing more than 170,000 participants who want to give back to the public lands they enjoy year-round.
Projects will take place at locations such as Mount Rainier National Park, Puget Creek Natural Area in Tacoma and West Bay Park in Olympia.
Last year, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,206 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. That was the largest participation in the event’s history. Those volunteers picked up an estimated 500 tons of trash, collected 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, planted 100,000 trees and other plants and built or maintained 1,500 miles of trails.
The event is touted as the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands.
That holds true at Mount Rainier, according to Kevin Bacher, volunteer and outreach program manager at the park.
“It’s the biggest single event we have by far,” he said. “Typically we get about 100 people .... In the years after the big flood, we had as many as 200 people.”
This year’s event at the park will include trail maintenance on the Pinnacle Peak Trail, while others will help with restoration of the Longmire volunteer campground.
Trail workers should meet at Longmire beginning at 8 a.m. to register with the National Parks Conservation Association. Volunteers will carpool to Paradise and begin work at 9 a.m., working alongside Washington Trails Association crew leaders and park staffers.
Park staffers are discussing other possible projects for the day, Bacher said.
The park is offering free camping at the Longmire campground for anyone who volunteers. Participants will receive a coupon for free park admission on a later date.
Bacher said National Public Lands Day serves as the autumn equivalent of National Trails Day, held the first Saturday of June.
“For us, it kind of makes a nice wrap-up of the season. That’s how we treat it, the big send-off for the summer,” he said.
But the importance of the day goes beyond helping prepare the park for the winter season.
“The other reason it’s important is the degree to which it gets people engaged in the park. That’s why National Public Lands Day exists, to remind people of the importance of public lands and stewardship of these special places,” Bacher said.
Here are some of the other events being held around the region:
Ape Cave: At Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Help the U.S. Forest Service and Washington Trails Association develop the new Volcano Vista View trail, creating a new view of the South Side of Mount St. Helens. The work will take place from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Park Orchard Park: To celebrate Kent’s seventh year of participating, volunteers will be at the park from 9 a.m.-noon to open the trails for children walking to school and improve the health of the overgrown forest.
Puget Creek Natural Area: This work will take place 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 29. Volunteers will help remove invasive species from the natural area in Tacoma. The Puget Creek Restoration Society is leading this project.
West Bay Park-Garfield Nature Trail: The Olympia Park Stewardship program is teaming up with REI Olympia to host this work party. Participants will help eradicate invasive vegetation, restore the area with native plants, pull weeds and resurface the trail. Fun water recreational activities will follow. Register at olympiawa.gov/experienceit and receive a free T-shirt at the event. Meet at the park, 700 West Bay Drive N., Olympia.
White River City Park: Join the City of Pacific for a World Water Monitoring Challenge Water Warriors water testing event from noon-2 p.m. Participants can learn about the importance of the White River to the valley.Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 firstname.lastname@example.org thenewstribune.com/outdoors