group of volunteers on National Public Lands Day stand for a group photo outside

NPLD Site Manager Guide: Overview

What is National Public Lands Day?

A Signature Event of the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) 

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. Held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, NPLD is a “fee-free day”—meaning entrance fees are waived at national parks, national forests, and other participating federal lands.

Every year, NPLD brings together hundreds of thousands of individual and organizational volunteers to help restore the country’s public lands. Our public lands are special places that Americans use for outdoor recreation, education, and relaxation, and they encompass national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, forests, grasslands, marine sanctuaries, lakes, and reservoirs, as well as state, county, and city parks that are managed by public agencies.

On NPLD, volunteers work with land managers to complete various service projects like building bridges and trails, planting native species, collecting trash, and removing invasive species. These service projects also give volunteers the opportunity to learn more about public lands and understand the environmental, economic, and health benefits they provide.

Over a Quarter Century of Service

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) has been the official coordinator of NPLD for over 25 years. In 1994, NEEF helped coordinate the very first National Public Lands Day project at three sites in Oregon with a total of 700 volunteers. Since then, the program has grown to include thousands of sites and volunteers throughout the country.

an extra large group of volunteers poses for a group picture at a national public lands day event

Why Host a National Public Lands Day Event? 

Hosting an NPLD event brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to everyone involved, especially Site Managers. Many say it deepens their connection to their local lands and their community. NEEF provides an interactive map that shows all the NPLD events happening around the US. To ensure comprehensive coverage, NEEF collaborates with its federal and state partners to encourage all of their field sites to register their NPLD events. NEEF’s interactive NPLD map makes it easy for volunteers to locate an event near them, and offers Site Managers who register events many other benefits.

  • Boost your reach
    Site Managers who register with NEEF will have their event posted to our interactive site map. Volunteers can use the map to search for events by location or type of activity—and even locate bilingual events. Event registrants may also be highlighted in NEEF’s weekly NPLD email blasts or social media posts, which reach over 10,000 federal and nonfederal recipients.
  • Let NEEF do the work for you
    By registering with NEEF, Site Managers gain access to NEEF/NPLD branded logos, social media graphics, and other promotional materials. NEEF’s Site Manager Resources Hub also has toolkits to help you plan and execute a successful event.
  • Add legitimacy to your event
    With its status as the nation's largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, NEEF’s NPLD receives considerable attention and press at the local and national level. Its prominence serves as a catalyst to attract new volunteers and visitors to your public land. Once a person is introduced to your public land as a volunteer, they will want to return again and again.
  • Join a larger movement
    Public lands are core to Americans’ everyday lives. They provide places to play, learn, explore, vacation, and be active. From the community park in your neighborhood to our nation’s iconic national parks, these public lands welcome all ages, stimulate the senses, build new connections to nature, and create lasting memories for millions of people each year. Use #NPLD to see what public lands of all sizes are doing to celebrate this year.
  • Become eligible for NEEF grant funding and sponsorship opportunities
    Only registered sites can be considered to become Highlighted Sites, which offer an event stipend, tablecloths, banners, and swag items for volunteers. If you are applying for one of NEEF's grants, you may be able to include your NPLD event in the funding package.
a diverse group of young volunteers walks to a NPLD event project

Who is the National Environmental Education Foundation? 

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) was chartered by Congress in 1990 to partner with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to advance environmental literacy nationwide.

NEEF works with trusted professionals, corporations, and communities to develop environmental education and engagement programs that make the environment more accessible, relatable, relevant, and connected to the daily lives of all Americans.

As the official coordinator for National Public Lands Day, the National Environmental Education Foundation:

  • Works with federal, state, and local land management agencies to host NPLD events across the country
  • Leads national media efforts to promote NPLD messaging about the importance of connecting with the outdoors and caring for the environment
  • Assists NPLD Site Managers in promoting and executing successful events
  • Develops marketing and promotional resources designed to help NPLD Site Managers promote their events and recruit volunteers
  • Provides educational materials and activity guides designed to help NPLD Site Managers incorporate environmental education and health and wellness into their events
  • Provides sponsorship and funding opportunities to support NPLD events
  • Manages the Department of Defense’s  Legacy Resource Management Program
  • Maintains the official National Public Lands Day landing page and holds the registration for the event.
NEEF staff members holding trash pickers and bags at the 2022 National Public Lands Day event


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