Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

For Peats Sake: Earth Day and Wetlands

By Marla J. Stelk, Policy Analyst, ASWM

The year 1970 was a very important year, not just because it’s the year I was born (although of course that makes it much more significant!), but because it was the year that began a series of federal protections for the environment and volunteer efforts to clean up pollution and toxins accumulated from over 200 years of unfettered industrial activities. It was the year that President Richard Nixon and Congress established the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as the year that Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to raise awareness about environmental issues and force them into the national agenda. Twenty million people demonstrated in cities across the nation to show their support for stronger federal protection of our nation’s wildlife and resources.

A couple of years later, the Clean Water Act was established and the year after that we saw the Endangered Species Act get passed by a nearly unanimous vote of Congress – a far cry from the political environment we are faced with today. However, although the ability of Congress to unite behind a common cause has clearly diminished over the last 40 years, we still have a lot to celebrate. Our air and water are cleaner. We have saved several species from extinction. Our knowledge and understanding of the natural world around us is significantly greater. And our increasing ability to forecast future scenarios based on current land use practices has improved our chances of responding and adapting to climate change. Although we still have a lot of work to do, Earth Day provides us an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments and share our knowledge and love of the natural world with others around us.

Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22 every year since its inception in 1970. This year Earth Day falls on a Tuesday, but there are events planned all week at various locations across the country. Earth Day offers us a great opportunity to shake off the winter blues and get outside to enjoy the spring sunshine, warmth and marvel at the year’s first buds and blooms. Get a group of co-workers or corral your family and friends to join you in a day stewardship and celebration. We have provided a few links below for Earth Day activities at wetlands in various parts of the country, although these are just the first that showed up on our online search. There are certainly many more that will be happening at a wetland reserve near you, so call your favorite local wetland organization and find out what they have planned! You can also go to the Earth Day Network website for ideas and information on various activities. Many of these activities require pre-registration, so be sure to follow the links provided below or ask your local reserve about pre-registration to get all the important information.

CA: Public Service Day at Bolsa Chica, Saturday, April 26, 2014
9:00 am- 12:00 pm
Location: 3842 Warner Ave, HB 92649
Description: Come join us in restoring Bolsa Chica! Our habitat restoration efforts include: removing trash and non-native plant species, planting native species, and raising public awareness and understating about the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and its importance to our community!

CA: Friends of Ballona Wetlands annual Earth Day celebration, Saturday, April 19, 2014
From 9am – 12pm at the Ballona Saltwater Marsh & Dunes located at the southwestern edge of the Ballona State Ecological Reserve. This year, in addition to our regular restoration projects and creek cleanup, we will also be part of a release of a rehabilitated bird from South Bay Wildlife Rehab!

IN: Earth Day with Wesselman Nature Society, Saturday, April 19, 2014
At Wesselman Woods Nature Center & Preserve, Howell Wetlands & Garvin Park (Evansville, IN) Free & open to the public

NJ: Edison Wetlands Association Earth Day Festival, Saturday, April 26, 2014
At the Triple C Ranch and Nature Center in Edison, N.J., from 1 to 5 p.m. with a rain date of May 3, at the ranch which is located at 206 Tyler Road in Edison.

OR: Earth Day of Service Project with Wetlands Conservancy, Saturday, April 26, 2014
Volunteers will have a chance to learn about the beach environment before spending the morning cleaning up debris from the beach. After a lunch break, volunteers will be cutting ivy off the bottom of trees as well as some other projects (that don’t involve clean-up).

OR: Fairview Woods Wetlands Park Earth Day Event, Saturday, April 26, 2014

Join SOLVE, Friends of Fairview and the City of Fairview for an Earth Day Event at Fairview Woods Wetlands Park. Come out to celebrate Earth Day by helping to clear invasive species and clean up litter to help keep the park beautiful! Coffee and pastries will be provided for all volunteers! Activities include: Invasive Plant Removal, Litter Cleanup.

If you can’t make a formal event, then take some personal actions to celebrate Earth Day. The U.S. EPA has been offering easy common sense tips to start living a “greener” lifestyle every day this month. Check out their “Take Action” webpage and commit to just 5 actions that you can do every day at home, at work, at school, while shopping, on the road, or in your community to  help make the world a healthier place. It’s easy, it’s fun, and every little effort contributes to a much bigger collective effort and truly makes a difference. And you just might find that you enjoy doing them every day!

Happy Earth Day/Week/Month/Year!

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