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National Public Lands Day – If you play, pay back!

hikers near Fall River NPSHave you ever been hiking or mountain biking on a beautiful trail, or casting a line on a serene stream, or even walking among the dunes on a beach and thought, “Wow, look at how lucky I am that I get to be out here, doing this for FREE?” It might be free at that very moment, but the reality is that you are in a forest or park that has likely been created and maintained through the hard work of volunteers.

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the largest singular volunteer day in North America. Launched in 1994 by a coalition of volunteers and Federal agencies, people come together on the third Saturday of September to donate their brawn, sweat and expertise in giving public lands a helping hand.

Projects run the full gamut from creating new trails/ improving existing trails, re-vegetating overused areas, building bridges, water bars and berms, to constructing new habitat for threatened species. Volunteerism has grown over the years with national numbers reaching 180,000 in ’15.

September 24, 2016 will be Grand County’s 22nd National Public Lands Day and will be staged from the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies Nordic Center. Among the work projects are trail improvements within the Strawberry Special Recreation Management Area through tread and corridor maintenance, reroutes of trail segments in trespass and those that are unsustainable or impacting sensitive resources. Bring water, sunscreen and a sack lunch and if your project is on federal lands, you will be given a voucher for a free entry.

Get yourself outfitted for your day of volunteerism by picking up a pair of work gloves, a solar shade shirt or sturdy boots from Christy Sports or Local Experience, (970) 363-7220.

You don’t necessarily have to ‘pay to play,’ but volunteering outdoors is a rewarding and learning experience and a fantastic way to meet like minded people. If NPLD doesn’t fit into your schedule, check with the local trails organization Headwaters Trails Alliance at www.headwaterstrails.org as opportunities always exist!

Tags: What to Do
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