Environment & Science

Celebrate nature and help local parks on National Public Lands Day

File photo of Malibu Creek State Park.
File photo of Malibu Creek State Park.
Tracie Hall via Flickr

This Saturday marks the 23rd annual National Public Lands Day. That means you can use your weekend to visit any national park that usually charge money for entry — for free. 

But, it also means that while folks are marveling at the natural wonders that the parks in Southern California have to offer, they can also lend a hand to do some volunteer work. The parks don't clean up after themselves, after all. 

Nature addicts can head over to Malibu State Park Creek on Saturday to celebrate the day and help clean up, plant mulch, remove invasive plants and more — after some sightseeing, of course.

The restoration event will be led by TreePeople. The day's biggest task for volunteers: removing invasive plant species from the area, wildland restoration manager Cody Chappel told KPCC. 

Scouring the mountains for these species is crucial to restoration and maintenance of the parks, he said. These plants can cause loss of moisture previously stored in soil, contribute to erosion and can potentially harm local wildlife.

This day dedicated to the nation's lands is the largest day where this kind of service takes place, Chappel said.

"It's really great, because it shines a light on this work that not everyone is apprised of, and we often get new people into this scenario and educated about the importance of this work," he said. 
 
If you can't make the drive to any nearby national parks, there are some local alternatives to appreciate the nearby landscape without necessarily having to get in some dirt. 

The Los Angeles River is perhaps the most overlooked waterway in the city, but Marissa Christiansen, senior policy director for Friends of the L.A. River, told KPCC it's a great way to spend the day dedicated to public lands. 

Angelenos can head over to the Frog Spot, which is at the Elysian Valley Bike Path near the Glendale Narrows section of the river in Frogtown, for tours, yoga classes and lectures about the river’s history and ecology.

Christiansen said this community hub offers an introduction to the natural resource that sits in L.A.'s backyard.

“I think an awareness day like this is important to remind people that yes, even in this region that could use a lot more parks and open space, we do still have these opportunities. There are still natural resources and assets that we can and should take time to enjoy,” she said. 

The Frog Spot is a regular weekend gathering spot every weekend during the summer and fall months. If you can't catch it this weekend, it'll run through the end of October.

It's also the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service this year, so if you can't make it to any sort of nature locale, there will be another chance to visit one for free on Veterans Day in November.

You can get more info about National Public Lands Day on Twitter or Facebook by checking out the hashtag #NPLD, or visit the National Environmental Education Foundation's website to find an event near you.