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Earth Day at ‘Ding’ returns on April 24

By Staff | Mar 31, 2010

Earth Day at the refuge will feature bike tours, nature crafts and information on how to live green.

In partnership with Tarpon Bay Explorers and “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on Saturday, April 24.

An afternoon of special Earth Day-related activities will be held from noon to 4 p.m. This year’s theme is “Choose Green.”

The first 200 guests to arrive for Earth Day will receive a free reusable refuge grocery bag, compliments of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, which is also providing free samples of shade-grown coffee.

“This year’s activities are geared for all ages,” said Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland, organizer of the event. “The message is get outdoors, get in touch with Mother Earth and learn how to live green.”

Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s official concessions operator, will be providing free bike use on-site at the refuge throughout the event. Trained volunteers will lead four-mile loop bike tours of the refuge starting at 12:30 and 2 p.m.

Visitors can also bike Wildlife Drive and Indigo Trail on their own. Wildlife Drive admission is free that day to all cyclists, hikers and walkers. A $5 fee still applies for motor vehicles.

For youngsters, there will be arts and crafts projects using recycled materials. Other activities on the agenda include a solar demonstration and climate change lecture.

Exhibitors will display and demonstrate “green” household cleaning products, recycled items for the home, Nature’s Pollinators (a live beehive), rain barrel water catchments, composting with worms and buying organic food.

TBE will be extending discounts on kayak rentals and tours throughout the day. It also offers refuge visitors tram tours of Wildlife Drive, nature boating cruises, educational Deck Talks and other opportunities to learn more about local wildlife and their habitat.

For additional information about their Earth Day activities, call 472-8900 or visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com.

First celebrated on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was founded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Nelson hoped that a grassroots campaign focusing on environmental issues might prove to Washington, D.C. just how distressed Americans were in every constituency.

“I am convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically,” Nelson said in 1969. “To marshal such an effort, I am proposing a national teach-in on the crisis of the environment to be held next spring on every university campus across the nation. The crisis is so imminent, in my opinion, that every university should set aside one day in the school year-the same day across the nation-for the teach-in.”

Approximately 20 million people in the United States took part in the initial celebration. By 2007, an estimated one billion people worldwide in more than 170 countries took part in Earth Day-related activities.

“The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy – it’s a choice between prosperity and decline,” President Barack Obama said on Earth Day last year. “The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy.”

For more information about Earth Day 2010, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org.

DDWS is a non-profit, friends-of-the-refuge organization that supports the Education Center, “Ding” Darling Days, Earth Day and other educational programs at the refuge.

Earth Day activities for everyone

Create a garden habitat: Of all the animal species in the world, 97 percent are invertebrates – think jellyfish, worms, spiders, spiders – and more than half of them are on the list of endangered species. The cause? Primarily, it’s habitat loss.

Turn your backyard into an official National Wildlife Federation Habitat. Even the smallest urban garden can sustain the basics for local fauna – food, water, shelter and space – and you can implement sustainable gardening methods for an even greener green space.

It’s already an Earth Day tradition, but planting trees is one way to build forests back up.

Help preserve biodiversity: The variety of animals, plants, insects and sea life in the world isn’t just a coincidence; the diversity of life on the planet represents the health of the planet as a whole. A slow but steady loss of biodiversity can also indicate an impending mass extinction.

Find a local land trust to volunteer with. They can fill you in on what’s going on around you, what’s threatened and what’s responsible for those threats.

Clean up water pollution: Saving water is a great green step – no more leaving the faucet on while brushing your teeth! – but it’s equally important to keep clean the water we do have. Litter, chemical waste, industrial run-off and other improperly-disposed-of trash can spread sickness and harm sea life.

Organizations like SCCF (www.sccf.org) and PURRE (www.purre.org) are frequently conducting clean water-related activities locally. Do your part and volunteer at an upcoming event.

Green transportation: A huge portion of the world’s carbon emissions come from something we all do nearly every day – travel. Calculating your carbon output and purchasing offsets for your plane, car and train trips will give you a sense of just how much you’re contributing.

If you didn’t take the day off from work, organize an Earth Day carpool with co-workers who live in your neighborhood, or coordinate an office-wide walk to a nearby restaurant for lunch instead of ordering delivery. Then use the experience to make both activities a part of your regular routine.

Source: planetgreen.discovery.com