National Public Lands Day 2020: More Ways to Connect to Nature

This year’s NPLD will look a little different, but it’s largely virtual format will give people in or near the Pennsylvania’s Highlands region plenty of opportunities to engage in a celebration and appreciation of our public lands, while contributing to volunteer efforts from behind their computer.

National Public Lands Day falls annually on the fourth Saturday of September, to highlight and restore America’s public lands. This event draws together thousands of conservation-oriented individuals with 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.

Last year’s National Public Lands Day brought out 156,093 volunteers across 2,117 different sites, creating $15.9 million worth of volunteer work to restore and beautify the country’s public lands. This immense show of support is an example of how important public lands are to the American people, and why it is crucial we continue to protect them.


Volunteers help install a new bench on NPLD. Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

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 various ways in which you 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 a myriad of virtual events. Although this year will be unique, it also opens the door for people all across the country to get involved with public lands in a way that they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to.

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!

Blue Marsh Lake is a National Recreation Area just north of Reading, a metropolitan area near the PA Highlands. Credit: Wikipedia Commons. 

These virtual events will give people the opportunity to engage in volunteer, or recreational activities from across the country, connecting even more people to nature. These events will include entertaining activities such as virtual tours of parks, wildlife viewing streams, or historical reenactments. They will also include opportunities to participate in important citizen science by teaching viewers how to identify different plants and animals to aid in data collection. Lastly, volunteer training will be available to keep the volunteer workforce engaged and teach them new skills to aid the parks in the future.


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


Written by Emma Coppock, Conservation Policy Intern

The Pennsylvania Highlands is a 1.4 million acre region that encompasses parts of 13 counties and boasts unique ecological and cultural resources that contribute to the economic and aesthetic value of the area, as well as provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. To learn more, visit

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