Often just known as NPLD, National Public Lands Day — set for Saturday (Sept. 30) this year — is generally billed as the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands. On this day, thousands of people do volunteer work such as trail maintenance and litter pickup, while others make a special point of taking the day to enjoy the public lands that belong to everyone. To celebrate this special day, many federal lands, and some state parks as well, offer free admission.
This year in New Mexico, volunteer opportunities are as diverse as trail work projects on the Santa Fe and Lincoln National Forests (US Forest Service), tagging monarch butterflies at the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service) and work projects on the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument (Bureau of Land Management) and at Cochiti Lake (Army Corps of Engineers).
At Bandelier National Monument (National Park Service), no work projects are planned this year, and the emphasis is on exploring and enjoying this treasured part of the Jemez Mountains. No entrance fees will be collected that day. The bookstore will have everything on 15% discount. According to Superintendent Jason Lott, “This is a terrific opportunity to come out to Bandelier. Take a day to celebrate the great outdoors and the lands that give us so much.”
Bandelier provides opportunities for short walks to see archeological sites, long hikes out into the Bandelier Wilderness, birdwatching, taking photos of plants, wildlife, expansive or up-close landscapes – and even sitting at a picnic table in the shade and just relaxing. For those considering camping in Juniper Campground, the evening will bring the unusual chance to walk over to the amphitheater and listen to a live performance of excerpts from Mozart’s “Abduction From The Seraglio” at the annual Opera On The Rocks – bring a camp chair!
The next fee free days for 2017, and the last ones for this year, will be on the Veterans Day weekend, November 11 and 12. For more information on country-wide National Public Lands Day activities, check www.neefusa.org/find-an-event. For Bandelier, contact the Visitor Center at 505-672-3861 x 517; the park also has a website, www.nps.gov/BAND, and a Facebook page, BandelierNPS.