Series of local events will celebrate Earth Day

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

 

Earth Day isn't technically until Monday, but a series of events this weekend will start the celebration early in Clark County.

Locally, the largest Earth Day event each year is the EcoFair, hosted by Clark Public Utilities' StreamTeam and the Clark County Environmental Services department.

In its 14th year, the free event will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday at Salmon Creek Regional Park near Klineline Pond, 1117 N.E. 117th St. Among the activities scheduled are nature walks and talks, a traveling exhibit from Portland's OMSI, live entertainment and booths from environmental organizations and businesses, according to the utility.

The event is designed to be family-friendly, said Clark Public Utilities spokeswoman Erica Erland — a chance to engage people who may not be able to participate in more direct volunteering such as tree planting and plant removal.

"For us, it's really about taking a minute to pause and celebrate our own backyard," Erland said. "We're all really fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country. We have a lot of resources all around us, all the time."

Of course, there are also plenty of opportunities for people to get their hands dirty. A nearby tree planting will begin at 8:30 a.m., as volunteers also pull non-native mustard plants in the area. The planting will continue until 12:30 p.m. The EcoFair wraps up at 2 p.m., according to the utility.

Elsewhere Saturday, the Vancouver Watersheds Alliance will lead a tree planting near the Unitarian Universalist Church of Vancouver, 4505 E. 18th St., from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers hope to plant "several hundred" willow, dogwood and other native species, said Emily Hirschman, program coordinator with the watersheds alliance. The organization has led previous work days at the church, which sits along Burnt Bridge Creek.

Other programs and activities are ongoing, but Earth Day offers a good chance to bring in new participants and new interest for the watersheds alliance, Hirschman said.

"It definitely connects really well with our mission, so we always try to reach out to the community in some way," she said.

At the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, volunteers will help stabilize recent plantings from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The refuge is just off state Highway 14 in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, east of Washougal.

At least one Earth Day-related event is already in the books. More than 40 volunteers, mostly from the Bonneville Power Administration, spent Thursday afternoon cleaning up the north bank of the Columbia River, including Frenchman's Bar Park. Workers collected two bags of garbage, and removed a large amount of invasive blackberry plants near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, said BPA spokesman Kevin Wingert.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro;eric.florip@columbian.com