Celebrating National Public Lands Day on Sept. 24

Give back to Washington’s great outdoors on this Discover Pass free day

A deer hunter enjoys the beautiful country and public land opportunity of WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County near Winthrop. (Kevin Puzey)

Any time is the right time to honor your public lands, but September holds a special opportunity to show appreciation for this invaluable resource by taking part in National Public Lands Day (NPLD).

Sept. 24 is the date this year for the occasion, the nation’s largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, according to its organizer, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Started in 1994 and held each year on the fourth Saturday in September, this celebration sees thousands of volunteers help restore and improve public lands around the nation, according to the event webpage.

Fee-free day

NPLD is also a “fee-free day” when a Discover Pass is not needed on lands managed by WDFW, State Parks, or the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Federal land managers are also partners for this free day, meaning entrance fees are waived at national parks and other federal public lands in Washington, including sites managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service.

NPLD 2022

NEEF is maintaining and building on the theme of “Giving Back Together” for NPLD 2022. The theme recognizes the way public lands served as a “save haven for recreation, conversation, and the simple enjoyment of being outside the confines of our homes” during the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of giving back to the outdoor spaces we love.

NPLD provides all lovers of the environment an opportunity to show appreciation for these natural resources through trail restoration, park clean-ups, and other events that teach us about the environment.

Get involved

For NPLD events in Washington, you can use NEEF’s interactive map to find virtual and in-person NPLD events near you. The map connects you to event details and registration information.

Additionally, you can find information on how to volunteer at various NPLD events in-person and online using NEEF’s “NPLD for volunteers” resources.

More NPLD info

For a wealth of information on this celebration of public lands, visit the main NPLD website. There you’ll find more details on organizing an event, attending an event, an FAQ, the impact of past years’ events, partner organizations, virtual volunteer engagement information, and more.

A hiker follows a trail in the Royal Basin of the Olympic Mountains. (Naomi Gross)

Your public lands

When it comes to public lands, there’s a lot to appreciate in Washington and much to explore on a fee-free day.

WDFW provides active management for more than 1 million acres of publicly owned land and over 500 water access areas throughout the state. Our vision is a Washington where fish and wildlife thrive in healthy habitats, and where people experience and enjoy our state’s natural gifts for generations to come. We welcome you to explore your fish and wildlife lands and waters, learn about our stewardship efforts, get engaged in planning and stewarding with us, and make memories at these magnificent places. Learn more at the WDFW lands webpage.

DNR, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission collectively manage millions of acres of public lands for you to enjoy. For more information on opportunities on these state agency-managed lands, visit our Life Outdoors webpage.

The federal government also manages millions more acres of public land in Washington through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. You can also learn more about these public lands on our Life Outdoors webpage.

A lot to celebrate

Sept. 24 isn’t just National Public Lands Day in Washington state, it’s also National Hunting and Fishing Day! Since 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September to recognize generations of sports people for their contributions to our nation’s rich sporting heritage and natural resources.

One of the core goals of NHF Day is to recruit new hunters and anglers by increasing awareness of the connection between conservation, fishing, and hunting.

This year, WDFW is hosting an online celebration for NHF Day to showcase work of WDFW and its partners to foster ethical hunting and fishing practices and to promote diverse hunting and fishing opportunities in Washington. The online celebration will feature how-to videos, adventure planning resources, information about mentored hunts/camps, and more! Following along on the WDFW website, Instagram stories, Medium blog posts, and YouTube page.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.