backcountry hunters and anglers, public lands packout
The Montana Chapter of BHA packed out trash with a socially-distanced effort in Conner, MT.

Public Lands Packout: BHA Volunteers Collect 4,175 Bags of Trash

September was Public Lands Month. And the nonprofit Backcountry Hunters & Anglers crushed (and far exceeded) their goal of removing 1,000 bags of trash from public lands.

Over the course of September, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members around the country rallied to break the previous year’s record. In 2019, the first Public Lands Packout extracted 600 bags of trash from public land across the U.S.

In 2020, volunteers leveled up to the challenge of removing 1,000 bags — and beat it more than four times over. The brand First Lite offered an incentive by donating $5 per bag of trash collected, up to $5,000. And it gave a series of gift cards out for various challenges, including 20 $100 gift cards to those individuals who packed out the most trash.

“First Lite is proud to support BHA’s Public Land Packout,” said Ford Van Fossan, First Lite’s conservation and content manager. “There’s no better way to generate some good hunting karma while helping to keep our wild places pristine.”

backcountry hunters and anglers, public lands packout
The Kansas Chapter of BHA hauled out a whopping 248 bags of trash for Public Lands Month.

BHA’s Public Service — Beyond National Public Lands Day

backcountry hunters and anglers, public lands packout
BHA Capitol member Jonathan Mathews packed out trash while hunting.

Public Lands Month is an extension of National Public Lands Day, an event initially sponsored by the National Environmental Education Foundation in 1994.

It occurs on the fourth Saturday of September each year. And on that day, federal agencies, nonprofits, and various groups dedicate a day of volunteer work on public lands. It’s the largest single-day event for public service in the country.

Since 2017, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has extended Public Lands Day to a month-long effort to support service on and for public lands.

With COVID-19 precautions in place, BHA members and volunteers forged ahead with socially distanced cleanups in their respective locales. State chapters focused on group events to clean up specific spots in need of trash removal. And, individuals picked up trash close to home on their local trails.

All in all, 4,175 bags of trash were removed from public land across the 30-day collective effort.

“Time and time again, our volunteers rise to the occasion,” concluded BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “Not only did we smash our Pack Out record from last year, we also cleaned up public lands all across North America.”

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Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.