SONY DSCBy Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

The Bureau of Land Management is inviting the public to take part in the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day on Sept. 28. Registration opens at 9 a.m. at a fence near Horse and Cattle Camp Road about 15 miles south of Ely.
Volunteers will help remove up to three and a half miles of a fence to benefit area wildlife.

“We’re trying to remove any sort of debris and materials that might impact wildlife as they’re traveling back and forth,” BLM Ely District Outdoor Planner Erin Rajala said.

In addition, there will be wildlife education stations for children and everyone who participates will receive a t-shirt, goodie bags will be provided to children while supplies last. But no matter what your age, Public Lands Day will have something for everyone to do.

“Education stations will be set up to teach the kids,” Rajala said. “They’ll learn things like wildlife with tracks, hopefully scats and skulls and leave no trace principles will be taught. We’re encouraging participants to come and assist in removing some of the things to eliminate any negative wildlife interaction out there.”

Originally started in 1993, National Public Lands Day is the national’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. More than 1,900 sites have registered to celebrate nationwide.

“We go through and essentially ask the different programs,” Rajala said. “In this case, this project is more along the lines of wildlife, but essentially it can be any project. It can be to go out and pick up litter in an area or fence removal or installation. It just depends on the timing of projects and funding.”
Public Lands Day also provides the public a chance to be involved in helping to keep up the public lands in their area and will help milestones for both National Public Lands Day and the state of Nevada.

“We invite people to help us and basically take some ownership of the public lands and help be a part of it,” Rajala said. “The other exciting thing is its 20th anniversary so it’s kind of a big deal and we’re weaving in Nevada’s 150th birthday and some cultural folks will be there and talk about some things about Nevada’s history.”

While the BLM is looking for a larger crowd than last year to attend this year’s event, getting the chance to teach and inspire children to become responsible users of public lands is something that Rajala said she is looking forward to.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with the kids to the area, exposing them to maybe new surroundings they haven’t seen, that’s always fun for me,” Rajala said. “Educating the kids and getting them exposed is important because they are our future and this allows them the opportunity to learn and grow and be our volunteers and taking pride and participating in their public lands.”
While National Public Lands Day is aimed at inspiring people to take ownership of the public lands near them, Rajala said she believes many already do.

“I think people on their personal time when they are recreating out there and experiencing and enjoying public lands take a lot of pride in public lands,” Rajala said. “We’re so lucky in Ely to have the vast lands that we do and to be able to go and enjoy it.”