National Public Lands Day, celebrated across the country each September, is a day that encourages environmental stewardship. As one of the nation's most significant volunteer events dedicated to honoring public lands, National Public Lands Day builds community and educates folks on the importance of caring for and understanding the world around them.

Volunteers from all over the Southern California area gather to celebrate National Public Lands Day in the Angeles National Forest. Photo by U.S. Forest Service

This year, the National Forest Foundation’s Southern California Program (NFF) partnered with the Angeles National Forest and the Saint Francis Dam National Memorial Foundation (SFDNMF) to host a volunteer clean-up event at the Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and National Monument. This site is a historical landmark on the Angeles National Forest north of Santa Clarita, California that serves as a tribute to the hundreds of people who lost their lives when the dam failed in 1928. Today, this area is also a habitat for critically endangered California condors.

In recent years, an uptick of litter and broken glass in the area has threatened the safety of the condors. Graffiti on the road and bridge has marred the area’s beauty. Most recently, heavy rains have caused small landslides and ditches, making the ground dangerous to walk on. It became clear that this site needed the help of dedicated volunteers to help protect and preserve its integrity. As such, it was the perfect site for bringing the community together to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

Volunteers paint over graffiti on the old county road at the Saint Francis Dam site. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

Over 60 volunteers attended the event. They helped paint over graffiti, fill in ditches, pull weeds, smooth over landslides, and pick up micro trash. At the end of the day, more than 200 pounds of shattered glass was cleared from the site. Not only did these amazing volunteers improve the safety and restore the beauty of the Saint Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and National Monument, but they also learned of the importance of their work thanks to speeches from the dedicated members of the SFDNMF.

NFF and TreePeople staff eager to wrap up a hard day’s work with delicious sandwiches! Photo by Cindy Villegas.

As an added reward, the NFF provided volunteers with coffee, snacks, and lunch while the SFDNMF hosted a prize giveaway. This successful event would not have been possible without the generous support from Southern California Edison and the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Cover photo by Paul Preston.


Every individual and every gift counts in our mission! This blog, and the others like it in this section, give you a glimpse of our impact. We’re doing our part; please do yours by becoming an unrestricted NFF donor today. Your gift matters! Just click here to become a valued part of our mission today.

National Forest Foundation