Big Bend Ranch State Park to host river cleanup and celebration of National Public Lands Day

BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK — This Saturday, Big Bend Ranch State Park will host a river cleanup and volunteer appreciation cookout in observance of National Public Lands Day, the largest single-day volunteer event in parks, nature preserves and other publicly-accessible outdoor spaces around the country. 

Just 1.77% of land in Texas is publicly accessible. At 300,000 acres, Big Bend Ranch State park is the largest and most remote state park in the Texas Parks and Wildlife system. 

This year’s “Cleanup on the Río” is the first volunteer event of its kind since the pandemic and will focus on the river corridor between La Cuesta Campground and Lajitas. Volunteers will meet up at La Cuesta at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning to hear a brief presentation on the importance of public lands and some basic safety information. 

The volunteers will then spread out on foot or by boat to patrol the river corridor for trash. Around 1:30 p.m. that afternoon, the park will host a cookout at the Lajitas Boat Launch. During lunch, park employees will collect entries for a very serious competition — to determine which volunteer collected the most interesting piece of litter. 

No registration for the event is necessary, but calling the park ahead of time will help the team plan for an ample amount of hot dogs. Volunteers only need to bring gloves, water and sensible clothes for a morning outside — no experience is needed and all are welcome. 

Park Superintendent Laura Jennings was hopeful that the event would draw new visitors from around the region — volunteers will be given a free pass to the park and the opportunity to meet park employees in a relaxed, celebratory setting. “It should be a fun day and get everyone involved with cleaning up the park and recognizing public lands in Texas, which are very limited,” she said. 

La Cuesta Campground is located just west of the “Big Hill” on FM 170 between Presidio and Lajitas.