Panaca, Nev. – More than 130 volunteers, including third-grade students from Pioche Elementary School, and fourth, fifth and sixth grade students and staff from Pioche, Panaca and Caliente elementary schools, celebrated National Public Lands Day (NPLD) Thursday at Cathedral Gorge State Park by planting trees and maintaining hiking trails.

The participants also learned about archaeology, history, local geography and wildlife, as well as “Leave No Trace” concepts that provide for the protection of natural and cultural resources while recreating on the public lands.

The event was hosted by the Nevada Division of State Parks and Bureau of Land Management Ely District, Caliente Field Office.

NPLD is a success nationwide because of the collaboration among federal, state and local agencies, private organizations and individual volunteers. The event is spearheaded each year by the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation.

Pictured from left to right with “Digger” the Desert Tortoise (back to the camera) last Thursday are Panaca Elementary fifth-graders Sadie Soderborg, Dean Ottley, Colby Bleak and Mason Thornock. “Digger” was at Cathedral Gorge State Park to help educate the young National Public Lands Day volunteers about local wildlife. Geology, archaeology and history, and how to “Leave No Trace” rounded out the outreach and education effort.

Pioche Elementary fourth-grader Josee Lytle receives medical assistance from BLM Ely District Firefighter Ruben Rowe as Shirley Johnson, a BLM rangeland management specialist, looks on. Lytle was bitten by an ant last Thursday while widening a trail at Cathedral Gorge State Park. Trail-widening was one of several activities conducted at the popular park during National Public Lands Day.

Shovel-wielding Damon Livreri, a sixth-grader at Caliente Elementary School, digs in deep to pry out rocks and pull up encroaching grasses as he labors to widen a popular walking trail at Cathedral Gorge State Park. Livreri was one of more than 130 volunteers who turned out last Thursday to work on trails and plant trees as part of National Public Lands Day.