DARKE COUNTY – Today is Earth Day, which began in 1970 as a movement to raise people’s awareness of environmental issues and get them actively working to protect and improve the condition of the earth’s natural resources for future generations.
Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson, who was then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin after he witnessed the devastation caused by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he believed if he could inspire that same energy into raising awareness of air and water pollution, he could force environmental protection onto the national agenda.
Nelson recruited Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair and built a national staff of 85 people to set up events across the country on April 22. On that day, 20 million Americans from all walks of life came together in massive rallies to protest the degradation of the environment and bring about real change in the national policies toward the environment.
By the end of that year, the movement had motivated the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and led to the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
By its 20th anniversary, Earth Day had gone global, boosting worldwide recycling efforts and other environmental concerns and leading the way for the establishment of the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992.
Sen. Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1995 for his role as the founder of Earth Day.
Earth Day 2000, its 30th anniversary, harnessed the power of the internet to organize people all over the world to get their leaders to take action on such concerns as global warming and clean energy.
Today, the global fight for the protection of the planet continues and is celebrated by more than a billion people in more than 193 countries worldwide, coordinated by the Earth Day Network.
This year on Earth Day is scheduled the signing of the Paris Agreement, by the United States, China and about 120 other countries, a key to enforcement of the climate protection treaty adopted by 195 nations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place in Paris, France, in 2015.
Darke County Parks will celebrate Earth Day weekend with Nature Day at Shawnee Prairie Preserve Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stations will be set up throughout the preserve where children can learn about a variety of native wildlife and plants. They will be issued “passports” to be stamped at each station for the opportunity to win a prize.
Adults will be able to hike the nature trails guided by park naturalists throughout the day.
A low-cost hot dog lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Chris Rowlands, a naturalist with Aullwood Audubon Center, will put on a show with music and life-size puppets at noon.
The Native Plant Sale also will be held during the event. For more information, call the parks at 937-548-0165.
The Darke County Solid Waste District will be holding its Trash Bash event this weekend as well, with more than a thousand volunteers out in force cleaning up the county’s roadways.
The clean-up will be from dawn to dusk both Saturday and Sunday, and motorists are urged to use extra caution in consideration of the safety of the volunteers.
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