GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - This year National Public Lands Day (NPLD) at Grand Canyon National Park will be commemorated with more than the traditional free admission and volunteer opportunities. Park staff and friends will also be celebrating the park's first Día de la Familia: Una Celebración del Mes de Herencia Hispana (Day of the Family: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month).
Día de la Familia will be held Saturday as a part of National Hispanic Heritage Month and the National Park Service's efforts to recognize the diverse experiences of all Americans. National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and is a time when Americans pay tribute to the generations of Hispanics who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and our society.
The Grand Canyon has a rich history of Spaniards and Mexicans exploring, pioneering and working in the region. That history goes back over 400 years to the arrival of part of the Coronado expedition in 1540. Led by García López de Cárdenas, these men were the first known Europeans to set eyes on the Grand Canyon.
Today, people of Hispanic heritage serve at various levels in Grand Canyon National Park, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, participating in and directing the day-to-day management and operation of many of our nation's public lands.
Día de la Familia is a bilingual celebration commemorating the Hispanic heritage of Grand Canyon National Park and the American Southwest and celebrating the daily contributions of Hispanics to the public's enjoyment of America's public lands. This celebration will include: special exhibits highlighting the Hispanic heritage of the park and the Southwest; bilingual walks and talks along the rim and into the canyon; bilingual children's programs; bilingual volunteer opportunities; demonstrations of traditional folk art of Oaxaca; information about job opportunities provided by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest; free shuttle bus service between Grand Canyon's gateway community of Tusayan and the park; and a special screening of This is America, a 45-minute film complimenting the new Ken Burns documentary series The National Parks: American's Best Idea focusing on the national park idea through the prism of our nation's diverse population. The entire six-part twelve-hour series will air on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) beginning Sunday and in Spanish on V-me, Spanish network, beginning Nov. 4. Check your local listings for times and channels or visit www.pbs.org or www.vmetv.com.
As part of NPLD, service opportunities, presented in both English and Spanish, will be made available through the park's vegetation management program for those who would like to participate in the NPLD tradition of volunteering to make their public lands a better place for all. For additional information on the volunteer opportunity please contact Jennifer Kapp, Grand Canyon Vegetation Program Volunteer Coordinator at (928) 638-7753.
The National Park Service will offer free shuttle service on NPLD between businesses in Tusayan and the Grand Canyon Visitor Center where visitors can easily connect with the park's free shuttle bus system.
All National Park Service sites, including Grand Canyon National Park will offer free visitor admission on Saturday in recognition of NPLD. Entrance fees and commercial tour fees will be waived on that day. Recreation "user fees" such as backcountry permit fees, camping fees and fees for other activities offered in the park will not be waived. Free entry passes issued at Grand Canyon National Park on NPLD to commercial tour operators will be valid only for that individual tour. Free entry passes issued to single visit entries issued on NPLD will be valid for one day on both the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon.
National Public Lands Day is the only time that entrance fees are waived systematically on public lands throughout the country where fees are typically charged. Other federal agencies participating and offering free admission on NPLD include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service.
To learn more about Día de la Familia or for a schedule of events, please contact District Interpreter David Smith at 928-638-7765 or call the park's general information line at (928) 638-7888. To learn more about National Public Lands Day, please visit www.publiclandsday.org.