Earth Day in the Park
by Elizabeth Folwell
On April 22, 1990, Adirondack Life staff watched in horror as stately cedars and shade trees were felled from the village green across from our offices in Jay’s brick church, leaving behind a far less appealing public space. All that chain-sawing seemed a peculiar way to mark the 20th anniversary of what has become a worldwide celebration of the environment. Since Earth Day began in 1970 the date has been marked by citizen action of all kinds, from demonstrations protesting industrial pollution to teach-ins about endangered species. In the Adirondacks key issues including acid precipitation, mercury contamination and wilderness preservation have focused local Earth Day efforts.
Ten years ago President George W. Bush visited the Ausable River a few miles from our building to mark Earth Day with a speech about stewardship and volunteerism. An unexpected snowstorm stranded dignitaries aboard a bus, causing them to miss a gathering at Lake Everest, but that proved to be the only major glitch. What has stuck in local minds is not the photo op of water sampling, nor the 17-minute talk, but the traffic-choking motorcade of black SUVs from Saranac Lake to Wilmington and the overwhelming security presence for what was basically a walk in the woods. Forest rangers, conservation officers, State Police and Secret Service agents watched from bridges, trails on Whiteface Mountain and even in the river to insure 43 would not be in peril as he spoke of threats to nature.
This year, mobilizing on behalf of the planet North Country–style ranges from lobbying in Albany by the Adirondack Mountain Club, Audubon New York and other organizations to “The ABCs of Observation” lecture by Paul Hai at Crandall Library, in Glens Falls. The program on children and nature is at 1:30 p.m. on April 22, part of the Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sunday series.
Also on Sunday afternoon, at Saranac Lake’s Pendragon Theatre, the Adirondack program of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Adirondack Green Circle collaborate in a Community Climate Forum. The free program includes a talk by ecologist and author Jerry Jenkins and a question-and-answer session about energy sustainability led by Green Circle founder Gail Brill.
If you’d prefer to get your hands dirty, join the volunteers at the Paul Smith’s College VIC in a day of trail work starting at 10 a.m.
In Saratoga Springs, a bird walk at Bog Meadow launches Earth Day festivities at 7:00 a.m. That evening at Saratoga’s Open Space Gallery, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve presents the film Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Times.
Many of these events offer strategies for sustainability and a hopeful outlook, showing what we can do on individual, local and regional levels. And that park in Jay across from the brick church now has stone benches, flowerbeds, a gazebo and maple trees just beginning to show green.