Looking for ideas of how to celebrate National Public Lands Day? Our public lands have certainly seen an uptick in use, and giving back will help keep our favorite places looking how we remember them! Here are some starting points that you can tailor to your area:
Volunteer to work on hiking trails or do other conservation work with the organization that maintains the trail systems in your favorite park. Tasks often range from unskilled, like clearing brush and cleaning up trash, to skills you can learn, like building bridges and retaining walls. Trail work can check all of the fun boxes that hiking does – being outside in beautiful places, getting exercise and connecting with your friends. Plus, the added appreciation from other hikers, organizers and the planet!
Educate yourself on the history of native land and the efforts in place to increase indigenous people’s access to their homelands and the ideas surrounding returning public land to them. By acknowledging and understanding other folks’ experiences with nature and how they might differ from your own experience or historical understanding, you can begin to be a part of making a more equitable and inclusive outdoors for all future generations. Consider donating to an indigenous-led effort that stirs your passions or interests.
3. Skill Share
Do you have specialized skills you could offer a local land conservation organization? Skills like mapping, social media, marketing or video editing could help complete a project in your area. Reach out and let your local nonprofit know what you have to offer and what kind of time you could give. You may be surprised to discover new conservation efforts in your area, new places to explore and a new community!
4. Get Involved
Familiarize yourself with local and national organizations working to make the outdoors and our public lands more accessible to BIPOC and LGBTQ folks. Seeing people who look like oneself on the hiking trail is a privilege many don’t have, as is simply feeling comfortable enough to use public lands. It takes intentional work to change who feels welcome in outdoor spaces, and you can support that work financially or as a volunteer.
5. Be an Ambassador of the Outdoors
On this National Public Lands Day and any other day, offer to be an ambassador of the outdoors to your friends or family. Share your skills to help take them places they don’t feel comfortable going on their own. Whether it’s reading a map, purifying water or being able to tell real from perceived risk, you probably have more to offer than you realize! Introducing your friends to local, beautiful places is a gift that can help them feel more connected to the place you share and offer them a retreat from their daily life.
What else are you planning to do to celebrate National Public Lands Day?
About the Author
Renee Igo was an Outward Bound student at age 15 and has been instructing wilderness expeditions for the Voyageur Outward Bound School for the past eight years. When not instructing, she holds a variety of other teaching positions and raises sheep in Maine.
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