Here at ACE, there is nothing more deeply connected to the core of our organization than caring for and conserving public land. National Public Lands Day is known as a “fee-free day” — when forests, parks, refuges, and rangelands across the US offer free admission or waive the standard amenity fee for visitors, making it a great option to get outdoors on a budget. We hope you are able to go outside and explore some public lands in your area on Sept. 24 and experience the vast beauty that America’s public land provides.
Here are four facts you may not know about public land in the US, taken from the US Department of the Interior:
1) National wildlife refuges work to safeguard wildlife populations and their habitats, more than 500 of them provide a wealth of recreation opportunities, including hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking, auto tours, wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, and more! These natural treasure troves see more than 47 million visits from the public each year.
2) Wilderness areas can be part of national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, or public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. There are more than 680 wilderness areas– protecting over 106 million acres in 44 states.
3) National conservation areas are a system of public lands that contain some of the nation’s most spectacular landscapes. They include 873 federally recognized areas, encompassing approximately 32 million acres, primarily across 12 western states. In addition to national conservation areas, national conservation lands include certain national monuments, wildernesses, wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national scenic and historic trails.
4) National recreation areas are lands near large reservoirs that offer visitors a chance to experience water-based outdoor activities — from swimming and kayaking to fishing and boating. These recreation areas also often include important natural and cultural features. The U.S. has a total of 12 national recreation areas, which are managed either by the National Park Service or the Forest Service, and five of these are near urban areas — providing great opportunities for Americans to connect to nature near them.
ACE offers numerous ways to get involved in helping to protect our public lands. Check out opportunities on usaconservation.org.