Ray Grass: Celebrate Earth Day Sunday — take a walk

Published: Thursday, April 19 2007 12:27 a.m. MDT

Sunday is Earth Day. It's not a holiday but probably should be. It's not well received, but again, it probably should be. It'll come and go, and most people won't even know it was here.

It is a day people are supposed to step back and take a good hard look at the environment and how they use or abuse it, and this includes wildlife.

Actually, there are two such days. This one was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, who passed away two years ago. The second, started by John McConnell, is recognized one-month earlier. Both came up with the idea the same year — 1970 — and both called their day Earth Day. The most recognized is Nelson's Earth Day, which is always April 22.

The first Earth Day, back in 1970 drew more than 20 million people. More than 200 million, worldwide, are expected to participate in some way this Sunday.

This year the National Wildlife Federation has tied in with Earth Day and will officially start National Wildlife Week on Sunday.

It's asking people to take a walk and count animals, then send in findings, and to get involved in an environmental service project.

What it's done is help bring awareness. Since that first Earth Day, the amount of public land protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System has gone up from around 70 million to 107 million acres.

It's true that the world now recognizes that there are problems with the environment. Unfortunately, solutions are slow in coming and often combative. Take global warming, for example. Despite a melting ice cap, warming temperatures and some unusual weather, sides are still split on the idea of global warming.

Which brings us back to Earth Day. If nothing else, people should stop a second and look at their impact on the environment and then askthemselves if there is something, even the tiniest of things, they can do to benefit the environment.

Considered the top three threats are oil and gas drilling on sensitive lands, urban sprawl and global warming.

According to reports from Earth Day Network, promoters of Earth Day:

• More than 200,000 acres of wilderness-quality land have been leased for oil and gas drilling in Utah and Colorado alone since 2003.

• The U.S. Forest Service claims 6,000 acres of open space are lost every day to development. And just what are some of the little things we can do to help the environment?

Take a walk. Instead of feeling the need to drive to close-by locations, put on the walking shoes and enjoy the out of doors and along the way check out the wildlife.

Change a light bulb. The Earth Day Network is asking bulb makers to move away from incandescent to fluorescent, which may all be for nothing. LED or the light emitting diode lights being introduced in the outdoor market are expected to replace both. The best part about LED is they never burn out.

Plant a tree and clean up garbage, either in the neighborhood or along a trail or riverbank.

Spend more time outdoors doing things like having a picnic, fishing, biking, hiking, camping and taking photos. If nothing else it will give you a better appreciation for what resources are available.


E-mail: grass@desnews.com

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