Local Earth Day celebration postponed until September

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, April 23, 2020

Earth Day’s 50th anniversary is April 22. And Boyle County was set to celebrate on Saturday, April 25, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, organizers postponed its local Earth Day celebration until Saturday, Sept. 19.

Clarks Run Environmental Education Corporation (CREEC) has sponsored the local event for eight of the past 10 years, said board chair Preston Miles.

Earth Day is important, not only because it’s an educational opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the environment, but it also helps to “make people aware of the need for appropriate (environmental) regulations,” Miles said.

At the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, environmental concerns were mostly local and regional – oil spills, toxic waste dumps, lead in paint and gasoline, Miles said.

“In the decade following the first Earth Day, the United States took several important steps for environmental protection by founding the Environmental Protection Agency and passing the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and other important regulations,” Preston explained.

“And now we’re at another crossroad.”

Miles said the push for strong environmental protection regulations has “temporarily lost some momentum because of current political leadership which doesn’t recognize the new emergency — climate impacts of human activities.”

He said in 1970 “We weren’t aware of that.”

“The new responsibility is not local, but global acts,” he added.

The past few years the nation’s attention seems to have shifted to economic and security issues,” Preston said. “Today, I’m hopeful that our current concern about COVID contagion will convince us that when all citizens act together, we can make the changes necessary to protect future generations.”

Director of Solid Waste Management Angie Muncy said Earth Day is important to celebrate, “because it reminds us to think about what we value — clean water, fresh air, etc. — and the threats these valued items face and ways we can help protect our environment.”

When CREEC celebrates Earth Day in September, the weather will still be nice, Miles said. It will be a free public event and will be held at the Michael Smith Park along Clarks Run on Second Street. Not all of the details have been reworked, but having the celebration there, “gives us opportunity for several interesting activities – wading the creek, guided exploration with naturalists, and service activities restoring streambank vegetation.”

Miles said people can wade in the creek and turn over rocks to identify salamanders with the help of experts who will be there. “The naturalists will play in the creek with people,” Miles said.

 

How to celebrate Earth Day during a pandemic

In a news release from the University of Kentucky Extension Office, Amanda Gumbert, extension water specialist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, said this year should be no different, despite having to avoid mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, most of us will celebrate Earth Day at home, but there are some simple things we all can do to be more eco-friendly every day, and raise our spirits in a time of uncertainty,” she said. “Take some time to get out into nature, even if it’s just in your backyard, to experience the beauty of a Kentucky spring. Breathe in the fresh air, listen for birds, enjoy the many spring colors, and if you’re lucky enough to have a creek nearby, take a moment to appreciate the many benefits of clean water for both humans and wildlife.”

Gumbert suggested some other simple activities that people can do alone or with their families to remember this milestone anniversary of the modern environmental populist movement.

  • Plant a garden. Try containers for small patios or yards. Include both vegetables and some flowers for cutting. Another option is to join in a local farm’s community supported agriculture program.
  • Compost food scraps and yard waste, rather than sending them to the landfill. Before long a compost bin will provide rich, nutritious soil amendment for your garden.

Follow the 3 Rs to keep as much as possible out of the landfill. They are:

  • Reduce: Avoid using single-use, disposable items like paper plates, cups, napkins and utensils. “This is easier when eating most meals at home,” Gumbert said, “but try to create a new habit to avoid disposable items in the future. Also, avoid purchasing items with lots of packaging, which is usually wasted.”
  • Reuse: Find new uses for household items or share them with a friend.
  • Recycle: Look for opportunities to recycle items that can’t be reused or composted.
  • Explore a natural area close to home. Some of Kentucky’s nature preserves are still open for hiking, as long as hikers practice appropriate social distancing. Learn more about Kentucky’s native wildflowers by observing and through Garrard County 4-H’s “On the Ground” series.

 

  • Take care of water resources. Planting along a backyard stream or neighborhood pond or lake will help reduce erosion, protect water quality and improve the beauty of the landscape. Learn more about all things water in Kentucky on the KYH2O https://kyh2o.podbean.com/ podcast.
  • Conserve water at home by taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet while brushing teeth.
  • Conduct a family litter cleanup. Grab some trash bags, sturdy gloves and boots and pick up litter along nearby streets and roads. Litter can create hazards for livestock, wildlife and waterways.
  • Plant a native Kentucky tree, which benefits native wildlife, as well as combats air pollution and helps to prevent erosion. Learn more about Kentucky’s woodlands on the From the Woods podcast.
  • Save energy by turning out lights when leaving a room, unplug electronics when not in use, and switch to energy-efficient appliances when it’s time to replace old ones.
  • Check out nonprofit organizations with eco-friendly missions and support them if possible.

“This Earth Day may be different than previous ones, but if we all take little steps, we can still make a big impact in improving our environment,” Gumbert said.

UK Cooperative Extension is part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. With its land-grant partner, Kentucky State University, the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service brings the university to the people in their local communities, addressing issues of importance to all Kentuckians.

 

Earth Day History

A news release from the Environmental Protection Agency read, “For 50 years, Earth Day has brought people together to take action to clean up our beaches, parks, rivers, and communities,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “When Earth Day began in 1970, Americans faced a drastically different environment than we do today. I am proud of the work our Nation has done, and continues to do, to be a leader in clean air and clean water progress.”

Over the last 50 years all environmental indicators across the nation have improved and continue to improve. For example,

  • In 1970, more than 40 percent of the nation’s drinking water systems failed to meet even the most basic health standards.
  • Today, over 92 percent of community water systems now meet all health-based standards, all the time.
  • America continues to be a leader in clean air progress, by reducing the six main criteria air pollutants by 73 percent.
  • Doubling to 86 percent the number of low-income communities achieving attainment with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards since 2008.
  • In the past three years alone, 38 areas have moved from nonattainment to attainment.
  • And EPA’s successful superfund and brownfields programs are bringing opportunity back to communities.
  • Last year EPA delisted more superfund sites than any year since 2001.

Since the first Earth Day in 1970, EPA has played a key role in hosting, coordinating, and participating in the annual event. As we continue to observe CDC guidance to stem the spread of COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, EPA will offer ways to participate in Earth Day activities and education online through EPA social media channels, including at-home activities for children. To promote public recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are also inviting everyone to participate by drawing pictures and making signs recognizing Earth Day to hang in the windows of their homes to celebrate with neighbors and their community. Those who wish to share pictures of their artwork are welcome to do so on social media using the hashtag #EarthDayAtHome, #EarthDay2020, and #EPAat50.