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This Land Is Your Land: Celebrate Our Public Spaces

Get outside this September and celebrate National Public Lands Day!

Rock Run Preserve. (Photo courtesy of Timothy McGrath)

National Public Lands Day began in 1994 and has grown to become the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the nation. It is traditionally celebrated on the fourth Saturday of the month, which is September 25 this year. But you can participate in activities all month long. Read on for ways to celebrate our public lands.

Enjoy and appreciate

From your local parks and county preserves to our state’s very own national park, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, there are many options to go hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing, kayaking or camping nearby.

In fact, the Will County Forest Preserve District’s long beloved program, Woods Walk, kicked off September 1 and continues through November 30. To begin your Woods Walk adventure, pick up a travel log at one of five Forest Preserve visitor centers: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville, Monee Reservoir in Monee Township, Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township and Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet.

Ten beautiful and diverse trails are listed for you to enjoy. If you visit seven of them before November 30 and log your travels with the forest preserve, you can receive a free medallion.

Make a difference

All these beautiful natural spaces require work to keep them healthy habitats for the wildlife that lives there. You can help support your local environment by volunteering for community workdays.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is offering several volunteer workdays in September. Get your parents to join you and sign up today! Not only is it great for the community, but you also get exercise, fresh air and the opportunity to meet people who care about nature.

Clean up

You don’t need to attend a workday to make a positive impact in your community! Is there a park you frequently visit that is covered in litter? Gather some friends, put on some gloves and pick it up!

If you want, you can even keep track of all the garbage you pick up. Litterati is a free app that will record this information for you. It is simple. Photograph the litter, pick it up and discard of it properly, then tag the item. When you “tag” the item, you are recording what it is or what it is for — wrapper, bottle, mask, etc. — and what it is made out of — paper, plastic, metal, etc. By using the app, you are not only helping clean natural spaces, but you are recording data that can be used by scientists and environmental activists.

If you really want to take your pickup to the next level, you can create a challenge and invite other families to join and compete with you on how much litter you collect. The details are up to you.


Follow Willy's Wilderness on Facebook for more kid-friendly nature stories and activities.


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