Across the state, all 37 Virginia State Parks will celebrate public lands on Sept. 22 with free parking, special programs and volunteer events. Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. 

The national theme is resilience and restoration, and many state park projects involve invasive species removal, trash pickup, river and shoreline cleanup, trail maintenance, habitat restoration and environmental education programs and activities.

Sept. 29 is also Bike Your Park Day [https://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/bike-your-park-day/] so bring your bike and enjoy your parks.

Park events include:

• “Go Native” at Staunton River Battlefield in Randolph to learn about the value of native plants and how to plant for local pollinators. Then plant some at the park.

• Tend an oyster garden at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster County.

• Work on bike trails at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County and the new Hoover Trail at New River Trail State Park.

• Help refresh bluebird box nests at Sky Meadows in Delaplane. These birds were once in decline but thanks to dedicated volunteers are a conservation success story. 

• Build fish habitat at Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston to improve the lake’s sustainability.

• Become a citizen scientist by participating in a BioBlitz (cataloging as many species of life within the park in three hours) at Westmoreland State Park in Montross or help conduct an informal bird survey at High Bridge Trail State Park. 

These events just scratch the surface of ways to make a difference in Virginia State Parks. Find a complete list of the programs here: vasp.fun/NPLD25years.

DCR’s Virginia Natural Heritage Program also has events dedicated to National Public Lands Day.

Events include a guided hike in Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve on Sept. 26 and a guided hike in the Channels Natural Area Preserve on Sept. 29. Both hikes start at 9 a.m., and registration is required. To register for these professionally guided hikes, call 804-786-7951.

Established in 1989, Virginia’s Natural Area Preserve System protects some of the best examples of rare plants, animals and natural communities in Virginia and the world. 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Public Lands Day [https://www.neefusa.org/npld] and the second Virginia Public Lands Day [https://vaunitedlandtrus