You can get in free to many public lands on Saturday. Maybe you’ll want to lend a hand too


You can visit many public lands on Saturday for free, thanks to a national day set aside to show them off, but you might want to show your appreciation by pitching in and helping.

National Public Lands Day — almost a third of the U.S. is said to fall in this category — flings open the figurative doors to forests, mountains, beaches, riverways, recreation areas and more, offering a chance to see these places in many cases without paying a fee.

But first you might want to investigate the volunteer opportunities that allow you to give back after you get in to the places that enhance the character of our country and our neighborhoods.


In the Southland, for instance, you can participate in a cleanup of nonnative plants along the L.A. River or a sprucing up of Santa Fe Dam at the nature center and at the lake in Irwindale. Or you could help plant trees in the Santa Monica Mountains, among other opportunities.

You can search for an event on the National Environmental Education Foundation website, where you can find the right volunteer fit for you and register for it.

Volunteering is a good introduction to these public lands, said Cody Chappel of Tree People who will be working from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Santa Monica Mountains.

“You look at a place and think, ‘How are we ever going to do this?’ and sure enough, you put your head down … and start to work you see a difference on the day and over the years,” Chappel said.

Last year, events across the nation attracted more than 200,000 people working at nearly 3,000 sites in all 50 states. The value of their labor was estimated at upward of $18 million, although it’s tough to put a price tag on the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of your labor.

Zach Behrens again will be participating in a project that seeks to eliminate nonnative plants along a part of the L.A. River that he calls “an amazing neighborhood asset.”

He and a handful of volunteers recently gathered nearly a dozen garbage bags full of invasive plants and trimmings along a stretch of the river near Fulton and Coldwater Canyon Avenue, and they’ll be hard at it again from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday.

“It’s safe to say that with any public land agency, volunteering is hugely important,” Behrens said. Results on a smaller scale can help everyone envision a healthier L.A. River as work continues to revitalize the waterway.

Info: National Public Lands Day


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