USFWS Hosts National Public Lands Day at Refuges Across the U.S.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Hosts National Public Lands Day at Refuges Across the U.S.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Washington, DC –-( of all ages have the opportunity to help restore the beauty and vitality of our public lands on September 26 as part of the 16th annual National Public Lands Day. Across the nation, people will join the largest coast-to-coast, single-day volunteer effort to improve America’s public lands.

Many of this year’s events will focus on water and its importance in healthy ecosystems. More than 130,000 expected volunteers will clean up waterways, rivers and wetlands, build fish habitats, reduce runoff by planting native vegetation and test water quality in streams and rivers. National Public Lands Day provides Americans with a great chance to get outside and improve our public lands, while answering the new administration’s call for Americans to participate in public service.

“National Public Lands Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to get outside and become a naturalist for a day. We are proud to be a long-time partner in this public-private partnership,” said Sam Hamilton, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I encourage citizens to volunteer in local efforts, spruce up public lands and introduce children to the natural environment.”

This year, organizers are expecting a record number of volunteers to participate at events. Nonprofit organizations, community groups and land management agencies at the local, county, state and federal levels are among the participants in these activities and events.

“Many of our refuges are designated to protect rare natural features or particular species of birds, animals and plants. During National Public Lands Day, volunteers will make significant contributions at refuges, such as maintaining visitor facilities, restoring precious dune and salt marsh habitats, collecting wildflower seeds for prairie restoration and cleaning up beaches,” said Greg Siekaniec, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

A list of refuges participating in National Public Lands Day is available at The special events Web site at has additional locations, and to find a specific refuge, visit the locator map at

“Wherever Americans go outdoors to explore, hike, fish, paddle, jog or just enjoy nature, that location is likely to be a candidate for a National Public Lands Day event,” said Robb Hampton, director of National Public Lands Day, a program of the National Environmental Education Foundation. “For 2009, we have a special focus on the connection water has on our public lands.”

Planting vegetation and trees near bodies of water can help improve water quality in many ways. Trees remove pollutants and carbon dioxide from the air. When trees and shrubs are planted as a “buffer zone” along the edges of rivers and streams, they are effective in reducing the amount of polluting runoff that would otherwise end up in those bodies of water. Just one tree can eliminate 4,000 gallons of runoff annually.

National Public Lands Day is now the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to enhance the public lands that all Americans enjoy. Last year, more than 120,000 volunteers planted an estimated 1.6 million trees, fixed hundreds of miles of hiking trails and removed trash at nearly 1,900 sites.

National Public Lands Day partners include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Invasive Species Council, over 30 states, numerous local agencies and nonprofit groups, such as the National Parks Conservation Association, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA. Community members can find an National Public Lands Day site in their area or register a location of their own at

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) provides knowledge to trusted professionals who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve everyday environmental problems. Together, we generate lasting positive change. NEEF partners with professionals in health, education, media, business and public land management to promote daily actions for helping people protect and enjoy the environment.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit