At Smoky Mountains (L to R) Charles Sams III, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, Rear Admiral Denise Hinton, Meri-Margaret Deoudes

Over 50,000 Volunteers Participated in National Public Lands Day This Weekend

Some dug in with rakes, clippers, shovels, and hoes. Others went in with gloves and trash bags. And still more grabbed binoculars, laced up hiking boots, or strapped on bicycle helmets.

On Saturday, September 24, 2022, over 50,000 volunteers participated in community events to help restore and improve public lands across the country as part of the 29th annual National Public Lands Day (NPLD).

NPLD is the nation's largest single-day volunteer event for public lands. Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, NPLD 2022 events included cleaning the wall of names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, releasing captive-bred California condors at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, and restoring the habitat of the endangered New England cottontail rabbit at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine.

“We are emerging from a difficult few years and still recovering in many ways, which is why we are so thankful to the NPLD event organizers and volunteers who participated this year,” said Meri-Margaret Deoudes, president and CEO of the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the national coordinator of NPLD. Deoudes joined the National Park Service Director, Charles Sams III, and other distinguished guests at Great Smoky Mountains National Park NPLD event.

Toyota team members build accessibility boardwalk at the Harvest Square Nature Center for NPLD 2022

This year saw the return of the in-person National Public Lands Day Signature Event, which took place at Harvest Square Nature Preserve in Harvest, Alabama. Held in partnership with Toyota Motor North America, the national corporate sponsor of NPLD, the event served as the kickoff of a three-year, $150K project at the site to improve accessibility. During the day, volunteers completed nearly 500 feet of decking on accessible boardwalks.

“National Public Lands Day is about collaboration to improve public lands and provided the ideal opportunity to launch this project, which aims to improve accessibility and mobility in this wonderful preserve,” said Kevin Butt, senior director, environmental sustainability, sustainability & regulatory affairs at Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

Events in Puerto Rico were cancelled due to hurricane Fiona, though the spirit of community on NPLD was strong: “With all that is still happening on the island, we decided to postpone the celebration of National Public Lands Day and started a fundraising to support el Centro Comunitario La Mina in Cubuy, Naguabo," said Carmen Portela, Executive Director of Fundación Amigos de El Yunque, Inc.

NPLD celebrations are still taking place. Make sure to check NEEF’s NPLD map to find one near you.