We’re coming up on the fourth Saturday in September, and you know what that means. It’s National Public Lands Day.
Created back in 1994, the day is meant to celebrate the connection between people and the green space in their community. Whether that celebration takes the form of volunteer stewardship, recreation or simply communing with nature, there are plenty of opportunities for Chicagoans to mark the occasion.muning with nature, there are plenty of opportunities for Chicagoans to mark the occasion.
Do the Dunes
Admission to all national parks is free on Saturday and that includes Indiana Dunes. The forecast is calling for sunny skies and temps in the mid-70s, perfect weather for hiking, biking, kayaking, birding, picnicking or just soaking up an early fall day in nature.
For those who want to invest a little sweat equity in the park, a beach cleanup is scheduled for 9-11 a.m. Click here for the details on how to participate.
Adopt a Beach
Chicago’s lakefront is “forever open, free and clear” for everyone to use, but it's not free and clear of litter. Alliance for the Great Lakes is holding a massive Adopt-a-Beach cleanup on Saturday. Click here to find a site near you.
The results from 2022 events held across the Great Lakes are staggering: Volunteers tallied more than 31,000 pounds of litter, 80% of which was plastic.
Party for the Preserves
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has gone all-in on National Public Lands Day. A full slate of “Party for the Preserves” events has been planned across the district from a bilingual bird migration walk to a Funkadesi concert to a Fall Nature Fest.
Click here for the complete round-up of locations and activities.
Saturday’s Biodiversity Festival at Big Marsh Park, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a showcase for the rich natural and cultural history of this gem on the Southeast Side.
There will be food and music, along with presentations on the region’s geographical significance and efforts to restore the native landscape. At noon, attendees can take part in a bioblitz, recording observations of the park’s plants and wildlife, which includes amphibians, reptiles, insects, mammals and birds.
Click here for the schedule.
If you have a little more time and are up for an adventure, National Public Lands Day is the perfect excuse to make the trip to Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, which spans the border of northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin.
Established in 2012, the refuge is the first federal wildlife refuge within 100 miles of Chicago. It contains rare remnant oak savannas, tallgrass prairie and wetlands among its natural features.
Though Hackmatack is still very much a work in progress, areas are open to the public for exploration.