One adult and three children in hard hats with shovels outdoors smiling

History of National Public Lands Day (NPLD)

The inaugural National Public Lands Day, originally known as "Public Lands Appreciation Day," took place on July 30, 1994. It was organized by Times Mirror Magazine and initially involved one federal land agency, the Bureau of Land Management, along with two public land sites, and 700 volunteers.

Picture of an ad from Field & Stream
The first advertisement for National Public Lands Day in 1994 in Field & Stream magazine.

In the years that followed, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) assumed responsibility for coordinating the event and trademarked National Public Lands Day. More federal agencies joined the effort, transforming NPLD into the largest single-day volunteer event dedicated to our public lands. NPLD events have consistently attracted the participation of numerous federal, state, and local representatives over the years and have received recognition through many gubernatorial and presidential proclamations, underscoring its national significance.

Collage of Presidential proclamations from 2001 and 2022
Collage of NPLD Presidential proclamations from 2001 and 2022.

In the past few years several states, most recently Wyoming, have recognized their own Public Lands Days. Today, NEEF leads this collaborative effort, working alongside federal, state, and non-profit partners. We celebrated the 30th annual NPLD on September 23, 2023, and look forward to continuing our enduring commitment to the stewardship of our nation's public lands for many years to come.

Lisa Jackson speaking at NPLD event
NPLD events have consistently attracted the participation of numerous federal, state, and local representatives over the years. In 2010, the keynote address at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens was delivered by Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator.
Forest Service band playing guitars on stage
The Fiddlin' Foresters, also known as the official old-time string band of the U.S. Forest Service, is a conservation and preservation musical group comprised of Forest Service employees, retirees, and a volunteer from the Rocky Mountain Region. Pictured here playing at an NPLD event in Arizona.


Two men outdoors one with arm around other both smiling
In 2008, one NPLD event aimed to plant one million trees in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Not only did volunteers exceed this goal by planting more than 1.6 million trees, they also honored the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the legendary “tree army” that worked to preserve and protect America’s natural heritage after World War I. Shown here Whitey Groves, who never missed a CCC reunion!