This coming Monday, April 22 marks the 43rd Earth Day. The first U.S. celebration of Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. Back in the 1970's early Earth Days celebrated at Waterside Mall (the old home of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) were more like solar festivals- one year we built a solar oven, but it ended up taking hours to cook lunch! Things change.
The 2012 River cleanup. Image from PWSWCD
Like Arbor Day which is also celebrated at this time of year, Earth Day is a way to remind ourselves that we are citizens of the earth and our address is our watershed. Solar “Happenings” are a thing of the past and today we plan events and engage our children so that we all may step back from our lives (or handheld devices) and see how our actions and choices can impact our watershed (land and air) and onto to the greater earth beyond.
Earth Day has evolved into an opportunity to spend a few hours outside with others cleaning up the trash from our water ways and road ways, planting trees and nature walks in our many regional parks to appreciate the trees. The trees act as natural pollution filters. Their canopies, trunks, roots, and associated soil filter polluted sediment from the runoff to our Chesapeake Bay. Trees also use and recycle nitrogen and phosphorus which contribute to the decay of the Chesapeake Bay and its estuary. Cleaning our roadways prevents the trash from being carried along by stormwater and wind into our waterways and parks disrupting the natural water flow and beauty of our natural world.
The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup coordinated by the Alice Ferguson Foundation working with the region’s soil and water conservation districts, community groups, employers, and schools happens this time of year. The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is the largest regional event of its kind and happens over several weekends so that you or your group can participate. Though the big Occoquan Bay cleanup was last weekend, the Occoquan River and Belmont Bay cleanups are on April 27th 2013.
You can join the Fairfax County Water Authority, the Virginia Department Conservation and Recreation, American Water, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and Friends of the Occoquan to plant trees and cleanup the Occoquan River and Belmont Bay. They will be collecting trash along the banks and those volunteers that have boats, kayaks or canoes are encouraged to bring them and remove trash from the water. (You can sign up and get more information from their web site.) The cleanup begins from five different sites along the Occoquan beginning at 9 am and running to noon.
The five locations are:
- Lake Ridge Marina at 12350 Cotton Mill Drive, Lake Ridge, VA 22192. The coordinator for this location is Renate G. Vanegas Tel. (703) 674-6659.
- Town of Occoquan location is at 314 Mill Street, Occoquan, VA 22125. The coordinator for this location is Claudia A. Cruise Tel. (703) 491-1918, Ext. 11.
- Occoquan Regional Park at 9751 Ox Road, Lorton, VA 22079. The coordinator for this location is Alex Vanegas Tel. (703) 674-7847.
- Bull Run Marina at 12619 Old Yates Ford Rd., Clifton, VA 20124. The coordinator for this location is John Rothrock Tel. (703) 887-1124.
- The fifth location is Fountainhead Park at10875 Hampton Rd., Fairfax Station, VA 22039. The coordinator for this location is Sarah Hutton (703) 624-6124.
Around Prince William County there are a spattering of upcoming activities to celebrate Earth Day. The only event actually on Earth Day seems to be the Kerxton Insurance Agency highway cleanup for their adopted section of Route 29 (Lee Highway) between Pageland Road and Linden Hall Road in Gainesville, VA. They adopted this section of Lee Highway last winter and is holding their first cleanup on April 22, 2013 between 2 pm and 4 pm. “Team” Kerxton will be cleaning up their stretch of Lee Highway between Route 66 and Pageland Road (for safety reasons they are avoiding the construction zone between Route 66 and Linden Hall Road. Kerxton has committed to clean up their stretch of highway four times a year and welcome community help. Contact Tina Stein at (703) 652-6198 or Tstein@kerxton.com The adopt a highway cleanup and the river cleanups are a great way to show our community spirit and help the earth and actually live our values.
In case it’s beautiful out this weekend there are other happenings this week end relating to nature:
On Saturday, April 20th 2013 the Master Gardeners (trained and certified by the Extension Office) will be having two events:
“Wildflower Walk and Talk,” master gardener Jeannie Couch leads a one-mile walk among native wildflowers. 1pm – 3 pm, at the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, 12229 Bristow Rd., Bristow. The event is free, but registration is required. 703-792-7747.
“Saturday in the Garden,” master gardener volunteers discuss growing plants in pots. 9 am.-noon, in the garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Rd., Bristow. The event is free, but registration required. 703-792-7747.