Today, April 22, is the 46th annual Earth Day.
But these days, in a way, every day is Earth Day.
Not a day goes by when we don’t hear about environmental injustices in the world, and about people who are fighting them. We are so much more aware now than we were decades ago about the importance of clean water, breathable air, sustainable food and healthy living. We don’t always get what we want or even what we need, but at least we have a better idea what it is.
In 1970, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day after witnessing the aftermath of an oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA.
Sadly, it would not be our country’s last oil spill - recent years have seen major ones in Kalamazoo, Mich., and the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.
Nelson and his fellow senators convinced 20 million Americans to take to the streets and protest for better living conditions.
Thanks in large part to their activism, we have come a long way. We have a Clean Water Act, a Clean Air Act, and various state protections to further enhance our water quality.
In 1970, no one would kayak the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh or raft on the James in Richmond or paddleboard the creeks around Sparrows Point in Baltimore. Now, people are. Specifically, we at the Chesapeake Bay Journal have done all those things, and we look forward to doing more of them.
We have tackled large sources of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. We have closed factories that polluted our air; we have reduced by millions of pounds the nitrogen and phosphorus coming out of discharge pipes via sewage; we have improved our farming methods to retain nutrients in crops so they don’t become pollutants in our streams.
We are, in many ways, better off than we were 46 years ago.
But recent events in Flint, Mich., prove we still have a long way to go. And for all the progress in the Bay, it still is far from clean or restored. In many ways, the hardest job is still ahead. We have controlled much - though not all - of the pollution we can regulate, the point sources. Laws require power plants and tailpipes to emit cleaner air, and consumers can choose to go further with hybrids, plug-ins and a deliberate choice to buy only renewable energy for a higher price.
What’s left is the pollution we create through the way we live our lives. That would include the way we grow our food, as agriculture is the largest pollutant to the Chesapeake and most other places, as well as the way we fertilize our lawns, build our houses, commute to work, and manage our stormwater. Remember the “rain tax”? People still don’t seem to want to pay for needed improvements to infrastructure that improve water quality. They’d rather have that money in their pockets.
The next steps will be the hardest, because they cost more and require behavior changes for everyone, not just power plants and car makers and oil companies.
Nelson got Republicans and Democrats working together on environmental issues. This Congress seems unlikely to agree on what to serve in the Capitol Hill cafeteria.
All is not lost, though. More than two dozen Democratic senators introduced a sweeping bill this week to protect children from lead poisoning. It would provide up to $70 billion to replace drinking water pipes made of the hazardous material, and to remove lead-laced paint from older homes.
If you’re interested in volunteering or getting outside in the spirit of Earth Day, opportunities abound. Our calendar editor, Kathleen Gaskell, put together this list. Feel free to let us know about others, using the comments form at the bottom of this post. Be sure to include date, time, place and contact information.
Happy Earth Day.
WASHINGTON, D.C. AREA
Anacostia Watershed Society
• The Anacostia Watershed Society needs volunteers April 23 to help clean up 25 sites around the Anacostia watershed. No tools or experience are required. Celebrate at the RFK stadium parking lots in DC with food and live music afterward. To register, visit
anacostiaws.org/earthday2016 or contact Joanna Fisher at email@example.com or 301-699-6204 x109.
Little Paint Branch Park
• Help the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission remove invasive species 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. the last Saturday in April and May at Little Paint Branch Park in Beltsville. Learn about natural features and native plants. Volunteers sign in for a safety orientation. Gloves and tools are provided. Contact: Marc Imlay at 301-442-5657 or Marc.Imlay@pgparks.com.
VA stream monitoring training
• The Prince William and Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Cooperative is offering Introductory Stream Monitoring Training 1–3pm April 30 at the Manassas National Battlefield Park Headquarters in Manassas. The free workshop on identifying benthic macro invertebrates is for residents who are interested in water quality monitoring or would like to become certified stream monitors. To register, contact Veronica Tangiri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 571-379-7514
EASTERN SHORE MARYLAND
Betterton Beach Cleanup
• The Betterton, MD, Beach Cleanup takes place 9 a.m. to noon April 23 (rain date 4/24). Participants receive food and beverages after the cleanup. Volunteers who register by April 14 get a free t-shirt. Contact:Stacey Clough at 410-810-5948, or info@KentParksAndRec.org or KentParksAndRec.org.
Chestertown Earth Day Festival
• The Chestertown (MD) Earth Day Festival takes place 9 a.m. to1 p.m. April 23, at Memorial Row. The event, which promotes living sustainably, includes eco-friendly goods, services, solar energy contractors, wind energy proponents, energy auditors, conservation organizations and children’s activities. Contact: Andy Goddard at 443-480-1987, andysctown@Atlanticbb.net.
Cromwell Valley Park
• Habitat Restoration Team - Weed Warrior Days: 2–4 p.m. April 23 and 10 a.m.–12 p.m. May 4, 11, 14, 25 & 28. Meet at Sherwood House Parking Lot. Remove invasive plants, plant natives, maintain restored habitat. High school students looking for service hours welcome. Register at Ltmitchell4@comcast.net for these workdays. Pre-registration required.
• Drop-in Gardening: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. April 30. Individuals/families, ages 13+ Willow Grove Children’s Garden. Gloves, tools, water provided. Bring hat, sun screen. No registration.
Ages 12 & younger must be accompanied by an adult. Contact: 410-887-2503 or email@example.com. For disability-related accommodations, call 410-887-5370 or 410-887-5319 (TTY) and give as much advance notice as possible.
Anita Leight Estuary Center - Abington, MD
• Invasinators: 12:30–2:30 p.m. April 24. Ages 14+ Remove invasive plants, plant native species. Weather permitting, work could be anywhere in the reserve. If there’s rain, meet at the center to learn removal & restoration strategies, how to ID invasive species. Free.
• Clean Up the Creek: 1–4 p.m. April 30. Ages 8+ (8–12 w/ adult) Participants in discounted trip around the marsh will collect as much trash as possible. Each paddlers of the boat with the most trash wins an ACLEC T-shirt. Gloves, trash bags provided. Fee: $8.
• Earth Day E-Cycling Drop-off: 9 a.m.–1 p.m. April 23. Free drop-off includes CPUs, flat-screen monitors, keyboards and mice, printers, scanners, cables, power supplies, VCRs, DVD players, telephones, cell phones, stereos, fax machines, circuit boards, video display devices, and all flat-screen TVs. There is a $20 fee for TVs of any size TV & $10 fee for CRT monitors that are NOT a flat screen. No registration. Call 410-612-1688 for details, directions.
• Earth Day 2016 Celebration at Aberdeen Festival Park in: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. April 23 (rain date 4/24) All ages. Live music, native animals, exhibits, “green” games, recycled crafts, local food. The Estuary Center’s booth offers face painting. Free. No registration.
• Fun with Mother Earth: 2:30–4 p.m. April 23. Ages 6+ Complete a scavenger hunt, make a craft, and have an Earth Day treat. Fee: $4.
Ages 12 & younger must be accompanied by an adult. Except where noted, registration is required for each program; visit otterpointcreek.org. For details, call 410-612-1688 or 410-879-2000 x1688. Registration is required for each workday; visit otterpointcreek.org. Payment is due at time of registration. Unless noted otherwise, volunteers meet at the center. Contact: 410-612-1688 or 410-879-2000 x1688.
Oregon Ridge Nature Center
• Earth Day Yard Sale: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. April 23. Table spaces are $20.
• Beaks, Bills & Talons: 1–3 p.m. April 30 & May 1. Learn about the birds that live near the center, meet some, hike to look for others. Fee: $5.
Registration required for all events; call 410-887-1815.
Benjamin Banneker Park / Museum
• Frog Songs Night Hike: 6:30–8 p.m. April 23. Adults, ages 5+ Hike to the farmstead’s wet places to hear their songs of, maybe catch a glimpse of spring peepers, toads. Fee: $3.
• Moss Workshop: 10 a.m.–12 p.m. April 30. Adults, teens. Join the Natural History Society of Maryland for an in-depth study of mosses at the park. $10 donation goes to NHSM.
Advance registration required for all programs; call 410-887-1081 or e-mail BannekerMuseum@BaltimoreCountyMD.gov.
Eden Mill Nature Center
• Eden Mill Paint Morning: 10 a.m.-12 p.m. April 26. Ages: 6–10 w/adult. Each child-adult pair learns how to use acrylics to paint a butterfly on canvas. Fee: $50/pair.
Pre-registration is required for all programs; call 410-836-3050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Marshy Point Nature Center
• April Gardens:1–3 p.m. April 24. Work with a Naturalist to plan your garden. Help to plant box gardens, then take home some herbs. Fee: $5.
• Basic Paddling: 10 a.m.–1 p.m. April 30. Ages 8+ Learn the strokes needed to maneuver a canoe. Fee: $7. Advance registration required.
Except where noted, pre-registration is recommended; call 410-887-2817.
American Chestnut Land Trust• Earth Day Clean Up: 12–3 p.m. April 24. Meet at South Side Trailhead on Scientists Cliffs Rd. in Port Republic. Bring gloves. Water, snacks, tools provided.
Registration is required for all workdays and ages 16 & younger must be accompanied by an adult for all workdays. Contact Autumn Phillips at email@example.com or 410-414-3400, or visit acltweb.org.
• Earth Day 5K Trail Run: Sign in at 8 a.m. Run starts at 9 a.m. April 23. Run the Parkers Creek Loop while raising awareness, support for ACLT. Run is not TAC certified but will be timed. Walkers welcome. Register at acltweb.org.
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
All ages are invited to learn about birding during Bring Your Own Binoculars family program 1–3 p.m. April 23 at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard, MD. The cost is $3/person; $8/family. Pre-registration is required. Contact: 410-586-8501, firstname.lastname@example.org, jefpat.org. If registering via e-mail or online, call 410-586-8501 to make the payment.
Donegal Trout Unlimited
Bring work gloves; TU provides water.
• Nursery Tree Potting: 8 a. m.–12 p.m. April 22.
• Millport Earth Day: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. April 27.
• Nursery Tree Potting: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. May 7.
For details, or to register for an event, contact Garry Longenecker at email@example.com or 717-587-3100.