Area celebrates Earth Day

By Lori O' Brien

Correspondent



Concerned Americans across the country will mark Earth Day the weekend of April 21-22 with a variety of outreach efforts in the hopes of getting more individuals interested in the environmental movement that started in 1970.

Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, proposed the first nationwide environmental protest to shake up the political establishment and put the issue onto the national agenda. Thirty-seven years later, more individuals than every before are expected to participate in a wide range of events that it is hoped will energize Americans to continue working for a healthy, sustainable environment for all.

Across western Massachusetts, there are a host of community events being planned this month to celebrate Earth Day and the environment.

In Springfield, the Springfield Science Museum will host its 17th annual Earth Day celebration with a family festival on the Quadrangle Green on April 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Throughout the day, youngsters will enjoy having their faces painted by members of the Northeast Center for Youth and Families, as well as participate in renewable energy demonstrations, make paper, and receive casting lessons from the Massachusetts Wildlife Angler Education Program. Also, students from the High School of Science & Technology will present their demonstrations of environmental projects and a live koi display will take place by the Pioneer Valley Water Garden & Koi Club. Participants will also receive free tree seedlings from the Springfield Forestry Division, and free ice cream is being donated by the Friendly Ice Cream Corp. The Boys of the Landfill will perform a host of environmental songs throughout the day from 11 to 3, and a special program with live owls, hawks and other birds of prey is planned at 11:30 a.m. by Tom Ricardi of the Massachusetts Bird of Prey Rehabilitation Program. In the event of rain, all events will be conducted indoors.

Several local businesses are also taking part in the festivities with environmental exhibits on the Quadrangle. Businesses participating in the April 22 event include the Center for Environmental Technology/ReStore Home Improvement Center, Kosmo Solar, the Springfield DPW, the Springfield Water & Sewer Commission, Pioneer Valley Aquarium Society, ECOS, Chicopee River Watershed Council, Starbucks Coffee, the Keep Springfield Beautiful Campaign, Connecticut River Watershed Council, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, Keller-Williams and Carlson GMAC Real Estate.

In West Springfield, Conservation Officer Karen Leigh said the town's annual Earth Day Clean-Up is slated April 21.

"We had approximately 50 people last year and we (with the help of the town's DPW) removed 54.5 tons of illegally dumped materials," said Leigh. "I typically pick out sites that are easily accessible, not dangerous for our volunteers, and on town property so we do as much as we can with the resources we have."

Leigh noted it is important for residents, particularly children, to participate because the public doesn't know how much illegal dumping occurs especially in wetlands and remote woodland areas.

"The kids' reactions have been inspirational and just plain fun, and an unexpected bonus to my environmental improvement efforts," added Leigh.

West Springfield clean-up efforts will also include the planting of 100 dogwood trees at Bear Hole Reservoir. To volunteer in West Springfield, call the Conservation Commission office at (413) 263-3072. Participants are reminded to wear waterproof boots and bring work gloves. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

In Southwick, town residents are encouraged to participate in the fourth annual Green and Clean on April 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Conservation Commissioner Albert DeLoreto hopes to attract at least 100 volunteers for the spring cleaning. Participants can pick up bags and gloves at the Notch Travel Centre on College Highway. For more information, call (413) 569-6907.

In Westfield, horticulturalist Pernell Gerver will give a presentation on April 18 at 7 p.m. titled "Gardening in Containers" at the Westfield Athenaeum. His talk will focus on the various decorative pruning methods and techniques for trees, shrubs, fruits, ledges, vines, evergreens and indoor plants. No registration is required. For more information, call (413) 562-0716.

In Chicopee, several events are planned this month including a tree planting on April 27, and a clean-up drive in the downtown area on April 28. In addition, a teacher who has carried out volunteer work for several years relative to clean water will be recognized on April 22.

Whatever one's interests, environmental organizers across the region hope to inspire others to work toward a healthier, cleanier planet for generations to come.





 
 
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