April 22, 2020 Column
Back in the good old days – the days before Facebook and Twitter; before iPhones; before the days of MERS, SARS, and COVID-19; even before the 9/11 attacks – we started our Trail Guard year out with an Earth Day celebration.
Actually, we celebrated Arbor Day and Earth Day together that day, planting trees furnished by the City of Paynesville, talking about the significance of both holidays, and wrapping up the morning with our annual game of “Earth Day Kickball.”
Today (April 22, 2020) is not just Earth Day 2020, but is also the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. On April 22, 1970 over 20 million Americans participated in rallies, marches, and educational events to draw attention to mounting evidence of the deterioration of our water and air quality.
Those efforts were credited with playing a huge role in the establishment of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) later that year, and the adoption of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act soon after.
Those laws continue today as a bedrock for continuing efforts to protect our health and welfare from the relentless march of competing interests. Not a bad legacy. Thanks to the late Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin for organizing the first Earth Day, now celebrated in 193 countries.
We generally start Trail Guards a little later in the spring these days due to high river water and the Midwest Mountaineering Spring Outdoor Expo at the end of April. We consequently no longer specifically address Earth Day and Arbor Day, but our entire program is geared to foster an inherent sensitivity to the very issues those celebrations highlight.
We’re looking forward to starting our park work when we can this year. In the meantime, we are organizing a Trail Guard Art Contest to engage kids remotely by asking them to draw murals for the back of our park information kiosk under the theme “Connections to Nature.” Good luck, kids, and enjoy!