National Public Lands Day 2020

In 2020 National Public Lands Day will look different, but there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate public lands in the PA Highlands. The largely virtual format offers ways to engage in a  appreciation of our public lands, connect to nature, and contribute to volunteer efforts.

Photo above: Volunteers help install a new bench on NPLD

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) falls annually on the fourth Saturday of September. It is a day to highlight and restore America’s public lands. This event draws together thousands of conservation-oriented individuals. All have the common goal of protecting and enjoying our public lands. This day is a perfect way for people in the Pennsylvania Highlands region to get outside and connect with their local public lands. Volunteers participate in a number of different activities including park tours, shoreline cleanup, trail restoration, historical tours, and citizen science.

Public lands are important to the American people. For example, last year’s National Public Lands Day brought out 156,093 volunteers across 2,117 different sites, as well as created $15.9 million worth of volunteer work. Consequently, this volunteer power helped to restore and beautify the country’s public lands.  Unquestionably, it is crucial that decisionmakers do their part to protect them, too.

Public Lands Day 2020 in the Pennsylvania Highlands

People sit on portable chairs in the grass at Blue Marsh Lake.
Blue Marsh Lake is a National Recreation Area just north of Reading, an urban center near the PA Highlands.

This year’s event, held on September 26th, will look a little different than the previous years due to COVID-19. However there are still ways in which people can get involved. The theme for this year’s NPLD is More Ways to Connect to Nature. While there will be some in person events occurring, 2020’s NPLD will also feature virtual events. Although this year will be unique, it opens the door for people all across the country to get involved with public lands in new ways.

For example, the PA Highlands region usually hosts a number of in-person events across the area on NPLD, including trail improvements, planting trees, picking up litter, and gardening. The PA Highlands is a 1.4-million-acre region that boasts outstanding recreational activities and provides essential natural resources to neighboring communities. While there are no in-person events in this region this year, Blue Marsh Lake is hosting a waterway cleanup event that is right on the outskirts of the region. For those of you in the region that want to find other ways to get involved, consider attending a virtual event on NPLD 2020!



For a full list of events, or to find in-person events near you, you can refence the NPLD Event Locator.

Virtual events will give people the opportunity to engage in volunteer or recreational activities. The options can connect even more people to nature. These events will include entertaining activities such as virtual tours of parks, wildlife viewing streams, or historical reenactments. Additionally, they include opportunities to participate in important citizen science. For example, some programs will teach viewers how to identify plants and animals to aid in data collection. Lastly, training will be available to keep the volunteer workforce engaged. The trainings will teach volunteers new skills to aid the parks in the future.


Article written by Emma Coppock, Conservation Policy Intern

The Pennsylvania Highlands features quality drinking water, productive farms and forests, as well as rural community character. Additionally, the network of trails and land in the region provides outstanding opportunities to spend time outdoors. To learn more, visit