Sep 24

Have you ever spent a lazy day at the local park, lounging in the sun and reading your favorite book? Can you recall a memorable experience hiking a scenic forest trail, or swimming in a cold, clean river? If so, the time you spent outdoors enjoying nature was most likely to be on public land, or in a local, state, or national nature area, protected by law and available to all.

Eastern deciduous forest canopy in early autumn

National Public Lands Day, 2011

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) will be celebrated in the United States today, September 24, 2011. It is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands.

Last year, over 170,000 volunteers grabbed their gloves and shovels to remove an estimated 450 tonnes of rubbish from public lands. They also collected over 9,000 kilograms (20,000 pounds) of invasive plants, built and maintained 1,320 miles of trails, planted 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants, and more. To encourage people to help protect and conserve national public lands, the US National Parks Service has lifted park fees at over 100 parks across the country on National Public Lands Day, making it the perfect time to visit that park you’ve been curious about!

To help spread the word about National Public Lands Day, we at ARKive are highlighting a few of our favorite US national public lands, as well as some of the species that can safely call those lands home.

Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, USA

Photo of red wolf lying down

Red wolf

With its beautiful sandy beaches and eastern deciduous forest, Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks is also home to one of the world’s rarest wolves, the red wolf. Declared Extinct in the Wild in 1980, the red wolf is beginning to make a comeback due to a successful breeding and reintroduction program.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA

California condor in flight

California condor in flight

The California condor was declared Extinct in the Wild on Easter Sunday in 1987, when the last individual was taken into captivity and a critical breeding program began. Since then, this New World vulture has made a remarkable comeback in several states and today, nearly 50 of these magnificent birds are found at the Grand Staircase National Monument in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Photo of desert tortoise in burrow

Desert tortoise in burrow

Care to snack on some rocks and dirt? The desert tortoise, which makes its home Joshua Tree National Park, is thought to munch on soil and pebbles to obtain essential minerals. Loss of habitat is a major threat for this species, so with the help of protected national public lands, the desert tortoise has a better chance of survival.

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Photo of bull trout

Bull trout

Cold, fresh water is just the ticket for the bull trout, one of the endangered fish species of Olympic National Park. Home to the largest remaining unaltered segment of bull trout habitat in the US, the chilly rivers of this park offer the right combination of underwater boulders and undercut banks that make ideal bull trout habitat.

Join in!

Now that you’ve learned a bit about what makes national public lands special for threatened species, why not visit the National Public Lands Day website to read more, or join the volunteers working to preserve natural areas around the country?

Interested in seeing more images of vital ecosystems around the world? Visit ARKive’s eco-region pages to learn about the Eastern deciduous forest, USA, Atlantic forest, South America, Gutianshan National Nature Reserve, China, or the Western Ghats of India.

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA