Water and Public Lands


Restoring the bank of a wetland.

Water conservation is not just an environmental issue. It is also a social, political and economic problem, because the basic nature of all life is the need for water. Determining how to best utilize our water resources will impact how people and nations interact with one another and is likely to become one of the biggest debates of this century.


In 2009, the National Public Lands Day theme was water. Public land managers and volunteers focused on protecting water resources and teaching others why this vital resource is so important to wildlife and human health. The water theme is just as relevant today as it was during NPLD 2009, especially in light of recent oil spills and natural disasters. Review the resources below and consider integrating water concepts into your programs, lessons or educational materials.

General Information --- Conservation --- Estuaries --- Fish --- Forests --- Groundwater --- Oceans --- Riparian Areas --- Watershed --- Wetlands


General Information

  • National Parks and Wildlife (PDF), Earth Gauge, National Environmental Education Foundation. Fact sheet on the aquatic wildlife habitat in national parks.
  • EE Week 2011: Ocean Connections, National Environmental Education Week, National Environmental Education Foundation. Visit the EE Week website to learn about their 2011 theme of ocean connections and access resources.
  • Water Science for Schools, U.S. Geological Survey. Information on the many aspects of water with pictures, data, maps and an interactive center where you can give opinions and test your water knowledge!
  • EPA Kids. Connects to webpages for kids (K-5) on water issues, with curriculum, booklets, interactive games, activities, quizzes and in-depth information.
  • EPA Teaching Resources. Connects to webpages for teachers and parents on water issues, including acid rain, wetlands, beaches, the Clean Water Act and coral reefs. Each topic indicates the grade level it is geared towards.
  • The Bridge, NOAA, the National Marine Educators Association and SeaGrant. A large collection of online marine education, including resources on global, national and regional marine science topics, and it gives researchers a contact point for educational outreach. Lesson plans are broken down by grade level.
  • National NEMO Network.  A confederation of 32 educational programs in 31 states dedicated to protecting natural resources through better land use and land use planning.
  • Clean Water Challenge: Exploring Aquatic Ecosystems, the Wyland Foundation. An environmental art and science classroom program for grades 5-8.
  • Year of Science, NOAA.  Water-focused resources include: lesson plans, informal activities, multimedia and curriculum. A wide variety of topics are discussed, such as the ocean, coasts, atmosphere, climate science and aquatic life.

 Volunteers restoring Kenilworth marsh.


  • Earth Day Network developed lesson plans for the 2009 National Environmental Education Week. Using K-12 subject levels the lessons span a range of issues related to water (Word Docs).

Conserving Water Through Art (K-4)

Water Scarcity (K-2 2-4)

Carrying Water (5-8)

Melting Mountains (5-8)

Filtering Water (5-8)

An Amazing and Precious Resource (9-12)

Hydroelectric Dam Debate (9-12)

Water Conservation (background; Activity, 7-12)

Let it Rain (9-12)



  • Estuaries.gov was developed by NOAA for teachers and student.  This site is also a great resource for anyone interested in estuaries and coastal issues.



  • Fish Facts, NOAA - Website summarizes management actions on a number of national and regional fisheries issues.
  • NatureWatch Program, USDA Forest Service. The website has 24 activities about fish including: fun projects, fish guides, coloring books, posters and some curriculum.
  • State-Fish Art Project, Wildlife Forever. The website uses art as a springboard into the wonderful world of wetlands. Through a comprehensive lesson plan and a complete species identification guide, educators in grades four through 12 can teach children all about their state fish and its habitat requirements.



  • Abundant Clean Water (PDF), USDA Forest Service. Fact Sheet summarizing the relationship between water and our National Forests.



  • Project Learning Tree. Activity in which students investigate a regional issue as they adopt the roles of shareholders and debate solutions to the depletion of North America's largest aquifer.
  • The Groundwater Foundation. The website covers groundwater basics and contains a kids/teacher resource section with educational activities and games.
  • Wakulla Springs, Florida's Springs. Downloadable activities for grades 1-12 adhering to Sunshine State Standards and interactive map.



  • Ocean Animal Aquarium Teacher's Guide (PDF), Marine Biological Laboratory’s Marine Resources Center. A downloadable teachers' guide with lessons and activities to do with a classroom ocean animal aquarium, and ways to integrate the aquarium into daily classroom activities.
  • Portal to Papahanaumokuakea, Duke University. Students from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment examine the challenges associated with managing and conserving marine biodiversity, using aspects of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
  • Clean Oceans, Wyland Foundation. Website has a variety of K-12 supplemental activities focusing on healthy oceans.
  • Explore Water, The National Park Service. Website showcases the beauty and value of coral reefs in America's National Parks.


Riparian Areas

  • Youth Action Guide, Bureau of Land Management. This curriculum helps young people learn about riparian areas -- those "GREEN Zones" found along the edges of rivers, streams and lakes. There's a student guide with classroom and outdoor activities and a leader guide for teachers.
  • Take Your Students Fishing and Boating!, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. Educational resources and materials designed to promote boating, angling and aquatic stewardship.
  • Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, the Wyland Foundation. An IMAX film with teacher's guide and educational resources. The feature follows world-renowned river advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and author/anthropologist Wade Davis and their daughters on an exhilarating river-rafting trip through the Grand Canyon to tell an engaging story of how ordinary people can make a difference for our parched planet - one that is running out of clean, fresh water fast.



  • What is a Watershed?, Conservation Technology Information Center. Basic information about watersheds.
  • Algalita Marine Research Foundation is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research, education and restoration. K-12 education programs include lesson plans and/or DVDs, downloadable materials on plastic debris, a watershed companion curriculum, research articles and more. Some materials available in Spanish.
  • What You Can Do, Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Downloadable activities for children and teachers.



  • Wetlands, the US EPA. The US EPA Office of Wetlands,Oceans and Watersheds discusses what wetlands are, why you should protect them and how people are working to protect wetlands.