WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt kicked off the 6th Annual Great Outdoors Day of Service at Theodore Roosevelt Island (National Park), speaking to hundreds of volunteers from D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“Thousands of people volunteer every year to improve our public lands and National Parks,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Today’s Great Outdoors Day of Service highlights the commitment made by so many to take care of our most iconic places, and I’m deeply appreciative of their efforts and that of The Corps Network.”

“The Conservation Corps community is proud of our long and productive relationship with the Department of the Interior,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “To keep up with the wear on our recreation resources, we need to harness America’s growing enthusiasm for the great outdoors and engage more people in service and volunteerism on public lands. Thanks to partnerships with Interior and other resource management entities, Conservation Corps can provide opportunities for thousands of young adults and veterans to serve on public lands every year. We appreciate Secretary Bernhardt’s participation in the Great Outdoors Day of Service and his support for Corps. Through partnerships, we can work together to maintain our lands and waters and train a new generation of resource management professionals.”

“We couldn’t be more excited about Secretary Bernhardt’s participation in the Great Outdoors Day of Service, one of the highlights of Great Outdoors Month,” said Derrick Crandall with the National Park Hospitality Association. “Millions of Americans will discover new places, new ways to have fun outdoors on our public lands and the great feeling you get from being involved in helping to care for our special legacy places. And, bravo to the 25,000 young Americans who are serving our nation in the outdoors this year. We are excited that many will find a door opening to career opportunities.”

In celebration of Great Outdoors Month, The Corps Network’s (Corps) National Great Outdoors Day of Service encourages Americans to get outside and help maintain and preserve America’s public lands and National Parks in Washington, D.C.

Volunteers worked on:

  • Repairing trails and boardwalks along Swamp Trail, which was closed due to flooding;
  • Repairing/replacing post caps and rope fence on the boardwalk
  • Clearing invasive species and overgrown brush along the Potomac Heritage Trail, Mt. Vernon Trail, and interior trails on the island;
  • Mulching/landscaping;
  • Removing graffiti;
  • Cleaning statutes and stonework; and
  • Disposing of litter

The work put in by volunteers helps to address the backlog of deferred maintenance projects across the National Park Service, which despite these efforts, has grown to more than $12 billion.

The National Parks in the Washington, D.C. area alone have over $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance. Groups like the Corps have played an important role in helping to combat this issue.

Background on Great Outdoors Month

President George W. Bush initially proclaimed Great Outdoors Week in 2001 and 2002. In 2004, he issued Great Outdoors Month, and it has been proclaimed every year since. In 2017 and 2018, President Trump proclaimed the need to improve upon the management of public lands through public-private partnerships and the importance of expanding hunting and fishing rights at national wildlife refuges across the country. In accordance with this directive, the Department of the Interior has expanded hunting and fishing access, most recently proposing a 1.4 million acre expansion nationwide. View this year’s Great Outdoors Month proclamation from President Trump.

Background on The Corps Network

Last year, The Corps Network staff across the country built or maintained nearly 13,000 miles of trails; restored over 1.4 million acres of habitat and planted more than 1 million trees; and responded to more than 650 disasters, including responding to the devastating wildfires on public lands.

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