by Deanna Darr
Penny-pinching outdoor lovers rejoice: Saturday, Sept. 24, is National Public Lands Day, meaning entrance and recreation fees on most national public lands will be waived.
Around Idaho, that means that all Bureau of Land Management-operated areas will waive day-use fees—although camping fees and cabin rentals will remain the same as usual—and admission into national parks and monuments will be free as well.
But lest you think that the fee-free day is just for your personal benefit, the idea behind the event is to help improve public lands through volunteer projects across the nation. Throughout the day, projects will have members of the public cleaning trailheads, building new trails and overall sprucing up and protecting public lands.
The BLM is hosting several projects across the state, but two projects will focus on Southwest Idaho. The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area will host a clean-up at the Dedication Point recreation site overlooking the Snake River Canyon. Volunteers will not only pick up trash, but help to plant native shrubs. For more info or to sign up to help, call Barbara Forderhase at 208-384-3485.
The BLM Bruneau Field Office will put its efforts into the parking area of the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness Area, as well as installing steps to help hikers get over a barbed wire fence to the trailhead. As part of the project, volunteers can join a scenic hike scheduled for that afternoon.
The Bruneau office will also build a bat house—it's like a bird house but for bats—at the Poison Creek Recreation Site. Volunteers here will be able to build their own take-home bat houses as well. Both Bruneau projects here will include a free lunch and a Dutch oven cooking competition. For more info, contact David Draheim at 208-384-3358 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info on all BLM projects, visit the agency’s website at blm.gov/id.
The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife will be holding its own project at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers here will be working to remove trash and invasive plants around Lake Lowell. For more info, contact Cody Dix at 208-467-9278 or email email@example.com.