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Sep 222009

From Green Right Now Reports

To mark the premiere of Ken Burns’ new PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will hold a  nationwide day of service and celebration in the parks on Saturday, Sept. 26th, National Public Lands Day. Entrance fees will be waived for the day as America’s national parks will host volunteer activities, and a special sneak preview screenings of the Burns Film.

The National Park Foundation’s First Bloom program has also announced that it will launch its new year of programming with events happening nationwide as part of the celebration. First Bloom works to connect urban youth with the parks. Youth from each program are leading the kick-off event in each location, where they will begin a year-long connection with a local park, facilitated by a local ranger, which will culminate with the youth planting a native garden at that national park.

A few park events include:

  • Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial, Austin, TX area – As part of NPF’s First Bloom events, the Austin Boys and Girls Club will arrive at 10 a.m. at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City. The major activity for the day will be scattering grass seed at the Johnson Settlement. The scattering of the seed will be part of the long term prairie restoration.
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monuments (NY/NJ) – In an early kick-off event for the Sept. 26th celebrations, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island will for the first time, open to the public for special evening tours and program events on Sept. 24 and 25. As part of the festivities, attendees will experience a sneak preview of Ken Burns’ documentary. Ellis Island will be open on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 24 , followed by Liberty Island on Friday, Sept. 25. For tickets, visit
  • National Capital Area Parks (DC/MD/VA/WV) – The 14 national parks of the National Capital Area will each host their own volunteer and special interpretive activities for the community throughout the day. Service projects will vary by site and include trail projects, river clean-ups and exotic plant removal. The service day will conclude with a celebration on the Ellipse from 5-8:30pm featuring fun activities, music, giveaways and a special preview screening of the documentary. The program will include remarks by Ken Burns and other special guests.
  • Chattahoochee River NRA (GA) – First Bloom will have an event planting scheduled at lunchtime with Boys and Girls Club and local school. There will also be trail repair projects and debris removal for volunteers.
  • Minute Man National Historical Park (MA) – Minute Man will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as a national park on Sept. 26. Volunteers will staff the day-long celebration from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and will host demonstrations of 18th-century activities including leatherworking, music, and agricultural. Recently rehabbed structures along Battle Road open to the public for the first time.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (CO) – Volunteers will build a new trail along the Continental Divide in the western side of the park. Throughout the day and across the park, a special sneak peak of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea will be viewed. Beginning at 6 p.m., Rocky Mountain PBS and will celebrate Ken Burns and his new documentary at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder.
  • Indiana Dunes (IN) – Michigan City Boys & Girls Club members and their families will tour Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and learn about the different native landscapes of the park. They will be introduced to the First Bloom program & native landscape garden site.
  • Valley Forge National Historical Park (PA) – More than 200 volunteers will spend the day building trails, painting cannon, removing crayfish – an invasive species – from the river. The park will also host an environmental expo engaging people in green community activities and businesses.

You can view a full list of park events — updated daily — online.