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National Public Lands Day this Saturday: Things to do in D.C.

September 23, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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From rock climbing to bird hikes, the National Park Service has got you covered this Saturday. Find out what to do and where to volunteer in this guide.

Did you know Washington, D.C., has 22 national parks? Here's one of them.

This Saturday, Sept. 24, is National Public Lands Day, a countrywide celebration of national parks, exercise, killing weeds and other do-goodie things. It is also the World Wide Day of Play, and if you think these two events aren't coming together into one synergized megaday of celebration, well, you're just dead wrong. (Saturday furthermore is International Rabbit Day and National Cherries Jubilee Day, but as the schedule is already pretty crowded I'm going to pretend like they don't exist, because for all intensive purposes, they don't.)

Since its birth in 1994, NPLD has become popular enough that as of last year 170,000 volunteers were working at more than 2,080 sites around America, clearing 450 tons of trash and 20,000 pounds of invasive plants and planting 100,000 news trees, bushes and other vegetation. So if you have an active streak in you, or have done something bad recently that you'd like to karmically balance, here's how you can help out this weekend. (There's also nonhelpful, fun stuff.)

• Did you know the urban planners of D.C. have managed to squeeze 22 national parks into the 68-square-mile city? But not all are in tip-top shape. There's debris on the banks of Rock Creek Park that shouldn't be there, for example, and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens needs pesky lotus leaves disappeared. Many parks in D.C., Virginia and Maryland are holding volunteer events on Saturday to spruce up the grounds a little. Find out which green spaces are hosting what with this NPLD list.

• For the World Wide Day of Play, Nickelodeon is staging a big blowout in President's Park (that's right, Obama lives inside a national park) in front of the White House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Your favorite bands, Big Time Rush and – eeeeeeeee!!! – Fresh Beat Band, will be taking the stage, and there are also events and booths from the President's Council on Fitness, the local YMCA, Port Discovery Children's Museum, the National Wildlife Federation, the Special Olympics Hockey team, uhm, Clorox and Coke and many others. And there is rock climbing! Here are the details and a map of the grounds.

• Hundreds of volunteers are expected to flock to Rock Creek Park on Saturday for a giant tuneup effort. The volunteering begins at 9 a.m. and includes trail maintenance, invasive plant removal and water-quality testing, although all positions for that plum gig have been filled. A "recreation and health fair" kicks off at 11:30, including a bird-watching hike sponsored by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and other nature fun. The fair ends at 3:30 (p.m., not a.m., despite the National Park Service's reputation for hardcore partying.) For more info, this is where to go.

• It's looking like it could be rainy into the weekend, so be sure to check the latest ABC7 forecast before heading out into the great beyond.

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