News Release

USDA Forest Service Hosts Fee-Free Day This Sat. To Celebrate Nat'l Public Lands Day

Day to Provide Hundreds of Volunteer Opportunities Across Country

Washington
September 22, 2005 -

In recognition of the 12 th annual National Public Lands Day, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service will waive day-use fees at hundreds of its recreation sites nationwide on Sat., Sept. 24 th. In addition, volunteers can participate in more than 600 restoration projects occurring this weekend across public lands.

"National Public Lands Day is a great opportunity for Americans to enjoy their public lands, which are some of the best places in the world to hike, bike, climb, swim or just simply relax,” said Forest Service Associate Chief Sally Collins. “The annual event also provides numerous ways for individuals to become involved in the stewardship of our national forest lands by volunteering their time to partner with us to improve the land."

More than 90,000 volunteers will participate this weekend at 600 sites (both Forest Service and other public lands) nationwide. Thousands of these volunteers will participate in 27 Forest Service events in 16 states in national forests and grasslands. They will take place from Pennsylvania ’s Allegheny National Forest to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois to California ’s San Bernardino National Forest.

Projects will focus on improving and preserving habitats in forests, mountains, prairies, rivers, wetlands and urban places. This year’s theme is “Lend a Hand to America ’s Lands.” Volunteers may help build a footbridge on a scenic trail, remove invasive species, plant seeds of native grasses, test water quality, clean up a lake’s shoreline, or plant trees. In addition, they will help with trail maintenance work, installing signs and enhancing visitor campground areas. All volunteers will also receive a coupon good for one fee-free day at recreation sites on national forests, national parks, wildlife refuges or other public lands recreation sites during the next year.

Volunteers and sponsors will contribute more than an estimated $10 million in time, labor, materials and services for improvements made over the weekend.

Taking part in National Public Lands Day also supports Take Pride in America , part of the President’s USA Freedom Corps volunteer service initiative. A national partnership established by the U.S. Department of the Interior, it empowers volunteers from every corner of America to improve our parks, refuges, recreation areas and cultural and historical sites.

While there are usually no costs to access national forests and grasslands, the Forest Service does charge modest fees under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (formerly the “fee demo” program) at campgrounds, rental cabins and other high-impact recreation areas. The majority of the fees go directly to improving the land from where they were collected.

Those interested in volunteering can call their local Forest Service office or 1-800-VOL-TEER (800-865-8337). For more information about volunteer sites with other federal agencies, local and state agencies, non-profit groups and event sponsors, visit www.publiclandsday.org.

The Forest Service manages approximately 193 million acres of public lands in 155 national forests and 22 grasslands. It offers boundless outdoor recreational opportunities, including approximately 133,000 miles of trails, 122,000 campsites, 9,100 miles of scenic byways, 4,400 miles of wild and scenic rivers as well as many cabin rentals and boat launches. For more information about the Forest Service, visit www.fs.fed.us.