Celebrate National Public Lands Day September 30

Annual fall fix-up day for America’s parks and other public lands expanding to more sites — from remote wilderness to inner-city playgrounds

Washington, D.C., May 2006 – A third of America belongs to the public, and each September, tens of thousands of us donate the last Saturday in September to help keep it up on National Public Lands Day.

Organizers announced that this year’s event will be held on September 30, 2006. They’re looking for more volunteers and site organizers to help reach 100,000 volunteers at 1,000 sites, and top last year’s 800 sites.

This year the program has gained the endorsement of Richard Louv, author of the bestselling book, “Last Child in the Woods,” recently out in paperback. He writes, "Healing the broken bond between our young and nature is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demand it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depend upon it.”

Admission to many federal sites is free on National Public Lands Day — including land managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Volunteers who join in the various service projects at those areas will receive a coupon good for an additional free admission on another day, to a national park or other participating area.

The annual fix-up day, sponsored for the eighth straight year by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., has become the largest volunteer hands-on event of its kind in the country. Volunteers may help build a footbridge on a scenic trail, plant seeds of native grasses, test water quality, or clean up a lake’s shoreline. “You get to do something patriotic and you also get a good workout,” said Robb Hampton, Director of National Public Lands Day, which is a project of the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation.

Each year the event helps fix up famous locations where Americans hike, bike, climb, swim, explore, picnic, or just plain relax – such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, one of the most heavily visited urban parks; the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Mass.; and the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles, the first nature center in California to be built from the ground up to protect the environment.

The experience keeps alive the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which enrolled 3 million Americans in fixing up public lands in the 1930s.

Toyota urges this year’s volunteers to carpool from its dealerships to the parks, monuments, and other historic sites they'll help to preserve. Toyota will also assist volunteers at selected sites with fuel-efficient gas/electric hybrid vehicles, including its signature Prius and the new SUV hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid and Lexus 400h. The company sponsors the event and encourages its employees to turn out as an expression of its top-to-bottom environmental commitment.

Those interested in volunteering can find local sites by calling 800-VOL-TEER (800-865-8337), consult materials at their local Toyota dealer, or go to www.publiclandsday.org. The website offers downloadable photos and more information for the news media.

Toyota's participation is guided by its Global Earth Charter, a comprehensive effort to promote conservation activities and protect the environment in all stages of the company's operation. The Toyota Prius, rated at 55 mpg by EPA, is the benchmark of gas/electric hybrid vehicles and is 90 percent cleaner for smog-forming emissions than the average vehicle. The company is introducing two hybrid SUVs this year -- the Lexus 400h and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Toyota obtained Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for a new office complex at its headquarters in Torrance, California.

Besides Toyota, National Public Lands Day sponsors include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Tennessee Valley Authority, and USDA Forest Service. Participants include numerous state and local agencies, nonprofit groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Boy Scouts of America, and Girl Scouts of the USA.

The event is managed by the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, chartered by Congress in 1990 as a private nonprofit organization to develop and support environmental learning programs to meet social goals and build partnerships among government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.

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