National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands, held annually on the fourth Saturday in September. Several national parks and reserves in Sandoval County are joining the celebration with special events Saturday.

NPLD brings together hundreds of thousands of individual and organizational volunteers to help restore America’s public lands. The event began in 1979, with the Bureau of Land Management as one of the original sponsors.

Sandoval County is home to a range of public land offerings, including parts of the Santa Fe National Forest, Bandelier National Monument and San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area.

The National Park Service invites the public to celebrate National Public Lands Day at Valles Caldera National Preserve. National Public Lands Day is a time to celebrate the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open spaces for education, recreation, and health benefits.

This year, Valles Caldera is offering several different ways to celebrate. There will be two morning volunteer opportunities. At the end of the projects, volunteers will be provided lunch, a token of appreciation and a pass to visit a public land for free. Ranger programs are available to help the public learn more about Valles Caldera and the educational and recreational benefits the park provides. Valles Caldera will be hosting a yoga session to highlight the healing benefits of public lands.

“National Public Lands Day is Sept. 23, and I strongly support and recommend that you go and visit one of the most prestigious areas in our county in the Valles Caldera National Preserve,” District 1 County Commissioner Katherine Bruch said. “They are sponsoring or working on a people and parks relationships and building those relationships, so they’ll be having some events over the course of that day.”

Bandelier National Monument will be waiving park entrance fees on Saturday to celebrate National Public Lands Day. Bandelier National Monument normally charges $25 per vehicle, $20 per motorcycle, and $15 per individual or bicycle. Camping fees still apply.

Bandelier specific annual passes and the full suite of America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands passes — are honored for entrance fees and are available for purchase at the visitor center.

In addition to waiving entrance fees, Bandelier will be hosting a Wilderness Project Day on Saturday. Park staff and volunteers will meet at Bandelier’s Cottonwood Day Use Area at 8 a.m. They will spend the day replacing and/or installing new signs that welcome visitors into the Bandelier Wilderness. Most sign locations are accessed from Frijoles Canyon and include up to three miles of hiking and up to 500 feet of elevation gain and loss, depending on the location.

If you are interested in volunteering or have questions about this event, contact Chief Ranger Dennis Milligan at 505-672-3861 ext. 1401 or [email protected].

The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands will waive entrance fees for day-use recreation sites on Saturday.

The theme for this year is 30 Years of Care and Community. It celebrates the 30th year of National Public Lands Day.