National Public Lands Day

A group of diverse nature lovers exploring and enjoying public lands, wearing comfy outdoor clothing, surrounded by breathtaking scenery..
National public lands day illustration

Quick, what do nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts celebrate around the end of every September? If you guessed National Public Lands Day, then give yourself a stick-on nametag that says 'Nature’s Buddy'! This annual event, which saw its most online buzz in 2017, highlights the importance of and encourages public participation in the preservation and improvement of our public lands. And boy, are there lots to talk about!

When is Public Lands Day?

It's national public lands day on the 29th September.

A Walk in the (Public) Park

The big splurge of online mentions on 29th September 2017 was no surprise, considering it's close to the autumnal beauty in many parts of the country, the perfect time to enjoy public lands. The day promotes environmental education, volunteerism, and recreation, all while honoring the lands that make America a wonder-filled, geography-nerd's dream come true.

Preservation Nation

From the red-rocked awe of the Grand Canyon to the tranquil shores of Cape Cod, public lands are the heart and soul of this country. They host our adventures, gentle strolls, vigorous hikes, and can we talk about the photo opportunities? Let's not forget they're also serving their eco-duty, being habitats to remarkable biodiversity and natural resources.

Hands-on Holiday

This holiday isn't just about appreciation from afar, though. National Public Lands Day provides an opportunity for everyone to get their hands a bit dirty doing something worthwhile. It’s the largest single-day volunteer event for public lands in the United States. So when it rolls around, pick up a (biodegradable) trash bag, grab a shovel, or maybe a brush if you're feeling particularly artsy, and let’s beautify this beautiful land, one public space at a time!

History behind the term 'Public Lands'


Birth of a Nation

In 1776, the United States declared its independence from Great Britain and became a nation of its own. This marked the beginning of a new era and the formation of a government that would shape the future of public lands.


Land Ordinance of 1785

In 1785, the United States Congress passed the Land Ordinance of 1785, which established a system for surveying and dividing public lands in the newly formed nation. This was a crucial step in managing and organizing the vast expanses of land under American jurisdiction.


Homestead Act of 1862

The Homestead Act of 1862 was a pivotal moment in the history of public lands. It granted 160 acres of public land to any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who was willing to settle and improve the land within a five-year period. This act played a significant role in the settlement of the American West and the expansion of agriculture.


Yellowstone National Park Establishment

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law, establishing Yellowstone as the first national park in the United States and the world. This marked the beginning of a new concept in land management, where certain areas of public land were set aside for the enjoyment and preservation of the people.


Creation of the Forest Service

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law, giving him the authority to create national monuments. This act also paved the way for the creation of the United States Forest Service, which was established to manage and protect the nation's forested public lands. The Forest Service played a crucial role in conservation efforts and ensuring sustainable use of these lands.


Bureau of Land Management Formation

In 1946, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was created as a result of the merger between the General Land Office and the Grazing Service. The BLM became responsible for managing and conserving vast tracts of public lands, including those used for grazing, mining, and recreation. Its mission is to sustain the health and productivity of these lands for present and future generations.


Federal Land Policy and Management Act

In 1976, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) was enacted to provide comprehensive guidance and regulations for the management of public lands. FLPMA emphasized the importance of multiple-use and sustained yield of resources, ensuring that public lands are managed for a variety of purposes, including recreation, conservation, and energy development.


Every Kid in a Park Initiative

In 2016, the Every Kid in a Park initiative was launched to provide every fourth-grader and their families with free access to all national parks, forests, and other federally managed lands and waters for an entire year. This program aims to connect the younger generation with the natural and historical treasures of public lands, fostering a love for conservation and outdoor exploration.

Did you know?

Can you believe it, back in 1994 when National Public Lands Day was first established, it was celebrated by only three sites and 700 volunteers. Look at how far we’ve come!


awareness fun nature environment volunteering

First identified

22nd July 2015

Most mentioned on

29th September 2017

Total mentions


Other days

public lands

Public Lands Day


Penguin Day


Arbor Day


Plantation Day

tree planting

Tree Planting Day


Fox Day

bat appreciation

Bat Appreciation Day

bike to work

Bike To Work Day


Turtle Day


Tree Day