September is well underway. That means an end to hot, sticky summer and the start of autumn: cooler weather, pumpkins, and beautiful foliage! September also marks the anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. From 2009-2016, President Obama annually proclaimed September as National Wilderness Month in commemoration of that historic act. While Wilderness Month has not been officially announced since 2016, the Wilderness Act remains an important moment in American history and a reminder to enjoy the wilderness we see every day but may take for granted.
Even though the wilderness is all around us, including small doses inside populated areas, it can be difficult to know how to actively appreciate it from within our domesticated bubbles. Trapped behind our device screens as we are, how can we figure out where to start on our quest to enjoy the great outdoors? Here are a few suggestions to help get you moving out your front door and into the beautiful autumn air this September:
Go for a walk outdoors – Anything from taking a brief walk during your lunch break to going for a full blown hike in the woods will bring you closer to nature.
Photograph the wilderness – You can either take your camera with you on your nature walk or capture images closer to home. All your photos will brighten your indoor spaces and device backgrounds.
Journal while outside – If you like to sketch or journal, take it outside! A change in scenery may spark your creativity, and the fresh air is good for your health.
Build a bonfire – Nothing reminds me of fall more than a bonfire and marshmallows. However, please remember to observe safety precautions to protect the environment and avoid fires.
Visit a national park – Find the nearest national or state park and take a day trip to fully enjoy it. In Nebraska alone, one can visit the Agate Fossil Beds, Mormon and California National Trails, and Niobrara National Scenic River, to name a few. Check out the area in your state and see what you can discover!
View the fall leaves – While it may be a bit early for the leaves to be changing color, you can certainly find out what kinds of leaf changes the trees in your area can expect. It is amazing what you notice when you are paying attention to the nature all around you.
Go camping – A full camping vacation may be out of the question for families with children in school or those who cannot get away from work. However, even taking a blanket to your backyard or parking your truck in a field to see the stars at night can be an awe inspiring experience.
Watch for wildlife – Do you have birds in your backyard? Do you see deer when you take your walks? Whether it is a hobby or just casual observation, seeing the wildlife around you makes you more knowledgeable about your environment and local ecosystem.
Picnic in a park – If it is a nice day, take your family to the park to enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature. If you plan to take your dog, however, make sure you are aware of all regulations about pets before you go.
Plan to watch a sunrise or sunset – Sunrises and sunsets are lovely in any season, but these events are at some of their most beautiful during the fall. Take the extra effort to enjoy a quiet moment with nature during these times this month.
There are many ways to interact with nature, and these are only some of the ways you can get outside and enjoy the wilderness. Whether you decide to spend a certain amount of time outside each day, or just appreciate the outdoors you see during your normal routine, spending time in nature can reduce stress and create opportunities to spend time with friends and family.
U.S. Department of the Interior – America’s Public Lands Explained https://www.doi.gov/blog/americas-public-lands-explained
National Park Service – Wilderness https://www.nps.gov/subjects/wilderness/index.htm
Census.gov – National Wilderness Month: September 2018 https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/2018/wilderness.html
U.S. Geological Survey – Protected Areas Data Portal https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/2018/wilderness.html
Wilderness Connect – About Wilderness https://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/aboutWild