National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. In Alaska, with over 300 million acres of public land, we have a lot to celebrate. In 2015, the day is Saturday. There will be locations across the state where volunteers can assist with trail projects and other work to help public lands.
Public Lands Day is a great way to connect communities to the public lands in their backyard and it gives them a healthy, active way to share in the stewardship of these important areas. More and more children are growing obese and losing their connection to the outdoors. Introducing them to public lands and engaging them in helping maintain them is a great step toward giving them both skills and recreational opportunities.
Public lands and the recreation they inspire are not only good for health, they are good for the economy. According to a report by the Outdoor Industry Alliance, Americans spend $646 billion on outdoor recreation each year, which creates over 6 million jobs. This is a boost to government at both the state and federal level, which each garner nearly $40 billion in tax revenue from outdoor recreation. Public lands are key to that economic activity – and to the enjoyment and health benefits that accrue from it.
Alaska Trails works to enhance and maintain trails across Alaska. Sustainable trails enable all types of users to access and enjoy public lands while not compromising the integrity and beauty that makes the land so unique.
In Alaska, and across the nation, volunteers from businesses, church groups, nonprofits and service groups will join together to help enhance, restore and celebrate America's public lands. Please consider bringing your family and lending a hand at one of these locations:
In Southeast, Hoonah is getting a jump on trail work by starting on Friday. Tongass National Forest, Hoonah Ranger District employees and Hoonah community volunteers will do maintenance to the Bear Paw Lake Trail head parking area, trail corridor and two lakeside designated picnic areas. In Sitka, Sitka National Historical Park is hoping volunteers will come out to enjoy the park, and to give back beginning at 8 a.m. They will be cleaning up the park and nearby beaches while keeping an eye out for interesting or unusual coastal debris.
In Anchorage, the Singletrack Advocates will be working on their Hillside Trails from 9 a.m.-noon – meeting at Drone Lane. Come spend the morning working on the great trails on the Hillside. Bring work gloves, water, and snacks. Standard trail tools will be provided.
The Bureau of Land Management Campbell Tract will host multiple trail improvement projects aimed at brushing trail, revegetating areas, pulling weeds, and addressing safety concerns. Volunteers are asked to arrive at 8:30 a.m. at the Campbell Creek Science Center. All volunteers are welcome to attend the free pizza luncheon at 12:15 p.m. at the science center. Immediately following the lunch, from 1:30-4:30 p.m., the center will host its annual open house with games, indoor and outdoor fun, snacks and prizes.
Sure looks like rain will be likely on Saturday. Please be a responsible volunteer and come dressed for the weather. Remember to wear work-boots, work gloves, and to bring a water bottle – and a smile. Your work is important to the trails and the great benefits they bring.
For more information on any of these volunteer opportunities, please contact Alaska Trails at 907-334-8049.
Steve Cleary is the executive director of Alaska Trails, www.alaska-trails.org.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com