In my new novel Unleashing Colter's Hell, my central character is Grayson Cole, a national park ranger who works in Yellowstone national park. On a nearly daily basis park rangers like Grayons are required to lead hikes, recommend places to eat and stay, know the name of every park flower and animal, as well as protect the visiting park from the public and the public from the park. Park rangers are true "Jack and Jill's" of all trades and are among the most dedicated and well trained federal employees.
Park rangers however, can't and don't protect the parks all by themselves. Countless citizen volunteers also help to preserve and protect our national heritage whether through cataloguing civil war artifacts, answering visitor questions, or hosting park campgrounds. The park service simply couldn't do its job without this help.
September 29th is National Public Lands Day, a national day of service where concerned citizens can give back to their favorite park, forest, or beach. More than 17,000 people are expected to give their service at more than 2,100 sites in every state in the Union. Here in Washington State, volunteers with the National Parks Conservation Association will travel to beautiful Mount Rainier to repair trails, clean up campgrounds, and plant native plants.
It's been my experience that people value those things that they have a personal investment in, be it their family, career, hobby, or community. Volunteering for a National Public Lands Day event, allows one to become "invested" in the preservation and protection of our national parks and other public lands Your repairing a trail, pulling weeds, or cleaning a campground will help the park rangers and other land mangers better insure that our national heritage is protected for years to come.
Where will you be volunteering on September 29th?