Monday, September 21, 2009

National Public Lands Day 2009 will be a day of service and celebration

On National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 26, 2009, more than a hundred volunteers will assemble at Mount Rainier National Park to plant native plants, maintain trails, and restore a historic campground. The work day will cap a highly successful season in which more than a thousand volunteers contributed to the protection of the park’s natural and cultural treasures and helped serve its visitors.

National Public Lands Day is an annual celebration of public involvement in the stewardship of America’s national, state, and local parks and forests. More than 120,000 individuals are expected to participate in events all over the country. In recognition of this, entrance fees have been waived at all national parks. Volunteers will receive an additional coupon for free admission on a day of their choice.

September 26 has also been designated a Day of Service and Celebration by the National Park Service, in anticipation of the airing of a new documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns that will be released on PBS the following day, titled The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Volunteers will be invited to attend a preview showing of 45 minutes from the series following their day of service.

National Public Lands Day volunteers will gather at the Longmire Museum at 9:00 a.m. Teams under the direction of crew leaders from the National Park Service and Student Conservation Association will help revegetate the site of the old Jackson Visitor Center, which was torn down and replaced by a new building last fall. Volunteers throughout late September and early October will plant more than 130,000 native plants at the site. Other teams on National Public Lands Day will work on basic trail maintenance and restoration of the historic Longmire Campground for use by future volunteers. Meanwhile, in the opposite corner of the park, the Washington Trails Association will continue a massive effort to rebuild the Glacier Basin Trail, which was obliterated by flooding three years ago. Projects will be available for all ages and levels of physical ability.

A coalition of nonprofit organizations and corporations has supported volunteer efforts at Mount Rainier throughout the summer and will help with National Public Lands Day. The Student Conservation Association plays a major role, with interns serving as volunteer coordinators and on trail teams throughout the park. The National Parks Conservation Association has led efforts to increase public awareness and understanding of issues facing northwest parks, including climate change and increased dangers from flooding. The Washington Trails Association and its members have worked hard to repair and maintain trails throughout the state. Washington’s National Park Fund has supported flood recovery and volunteer efforts through fundraising. Corporations including Boeing, REI, and Starbucks have contributed with both financial and on-the-ground volunteer support. Hundreds of individuals and dozens of groups have invested their time and sweat, in partnership with park employees, to build and patrol trails, assist and educate visitors, conduct citizen science research, plant native plants, remove invasive species, maintain backcountry campsites, and catalogue historic records. Last year, 1837 volunteers contributed 70,130 hours of service at Mount Rainier, an effort valued at $1.4 million.

Individuals may RSVP to help with National Public Lands Day, as well as many other projects extending into October. Up-to-date information, a calendar of activities, and pictures of volunteers in action may be found on Mount Rainier National Park’s website at, or on its volunteer program blog at

- NPS -

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