After all the hoopla of Earth Day's 20th celebration last year, some Utah environmentalists are saying they are tired of the hype and just want to work quietly all year long to protect nature.
This year, said Rudy Lukez, conservation chairman of the Sierra Club's Utah Chapter, members of the group have "almost a lukewarm reaction to it because of what we saw as an overcommercialization of it."But Wes Groesbeck, who helped organize a tree-planting to establish a wildlife grove on behalf of Alzheimer's victims and their families, said the Earth Day observances are valuable.
"The motto this year is `You can make a difference,' Groesbeck said. "And I think that where we have to start is right in our own back yard, right in our own house and right at the grass-roots level. If everybody would do the same thing, then the politicians would get the point real fast. So I think that everything that's going on this year is super. I think it's nice."
Lukez charged that last year, many companies that don't have good environmental ethics jumped on the Earth Day bandwagon. Even some government agencies seen by the Sierra Club as not overly sensitive to environmental protection - such the Bureau of Land Management - celebrated the day, he said."They sort of missed the whole point, that you have to follow those principles every day to make long-term changes," he said. The club believes that it's better to work all year quietly than to have a one-day blowout that doesn't really achieve much.
The 20th anniversary of Earth Day didn't result in powerful new legislation like the original Earth Day did. Back in 1970, Earth Day was a rallying point for the drive that went on to pass such laws as the National Environmental Policy Act.
"The central activity last year was down in Cottonwood Mall," Lukez said. "It seemed almost the antitheses of everything it should have been.
"A mall is almost the symbol of everything Earth Day isn't." Even though the Sierra Club participated in a celebration at Cottonwood Mall in 1990, the club found a "zero response rate" from Utahns who attended, he said.
"It sort of goes along with the whole mall mentality. It was just another sideshow . . . One week they were selling cars; the next week we were there, they were selling the environment; the next week they brought in a fashion show or something."
Groesbeck countered, "What we have to do is show the politicians that we really care and they'll get the message."
His group plans to plant 256 trees, shrubs and bushes - donated by Kennecott Copper, not one of the Sierra Club's favorite industries - along the Jordan River at approximately 300 South and 1200 West. The dedication ceremony is set for May 4 at noon.
The planting is sponsored by the Northern Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "It's going to tie in to the Jordan River Parkway," he said. Salt Lake City and county officials, and the Parkway, are involved.
"We're wanting to get the public aware of how beautiful the Jordan River can be, and one of the reason why we chose that site over other sites is because of its location and its potential," Groesbeck said.
During the winter, when the group was scouting out the site, they saw many ducks and other wild birds that were using the Jordan. They are convinced the area can become more valuable for wildlife.
"We're planting nothing but trees, and bushes and shrubs that are native to Utah," he said.
For those who are interested in celebrating Earth Day, here's a rundown of some of the activities scheduled on and near the day, a list which was provided by Earth Day Utah:
Through April 20, "Recycle Awareness Week" at Hill Air Force Base. Seedling giveaway, 10 a.m., April 20. The Base Youth Center has reduced admission fees for a "recycled skate" at 4 p.m. on April 21, for those with aluminum cans. Also, TreeUtah Inc. and the base are planning a tree-planting in honor of Operation Desert Storm.
- April 16-19, Natural Resources Week at Utah State University, Logan.
- April 19-21, Earth Day Utah 1991 Fair at Trolley Square, Salt Lake City. There will be booths, exhibits, live performances, games and demonstrations. Among the events are a rap contest and recycled art exhibit. Seedlings given away each day.
- April 19-21, Utah Wildlife Federation convention, Day's Inn, Price. Public welcome on April 20.
- April 20, "Earth Day Bike Race" up City Creek Canyon. Adult race, 11:45 a.m. at the mouth of the canyon; kids' race starts at noon. Fee, $10. Shirts given away to contestants.
- April 20 - "Take Pride in Utah" Mountain Biking Clinic, in foothills above University of Utah Research Park, 10 a.m.
- April 20, "Reforest the Wasatch" tree-planting and training workshop, summit of Little Mountain, up Emigration Canyon, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nearly 1,000 volunteers are expected to celebrate by planting 7,000 seedlings in an event sponsored by TreeUtah.
- April 20, "Wild About Earth Day" family workshop, Utah Museum of Natural History, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., $12 fee.
- April 12-27, "Wildlife Week," sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation.
- April 22, Earth Day itself. Social-environmental-peace day at University of Utah campus, DanceArt performance. For information, call Susan Ann Stauffer at 278-6863, or the Associated Students of the University of Utah, Margie Alban, at 581-6866.
- April 22, town meeting for Salt Lake City residents, inviting comments about recycling issues, City Hall, 451 S. State, Room 315, starting 7 p.m. Sponsored by the Mayor's Recycling Committee.
- April 23, Earth Day and Arbor Day neighborhood plantings, 9 a.m. at West Valley City, Westridge Commerce Park and Golf Course, 5600 W. 4700 South; 11 a.m., Sandy, by the Ski Connection, approximately 9100 South at 900 East; 1 p.m., Salt Lake City, at Hidden Hollow, 2160 S. 1252 East; 3 p.m., also Salt Lake City, at the Fourteenth Avenue Park, 14th Avenue and H Street.
Other events are scheudled for later in the month and in April, such as the Alzheimer's Wildlife Grove planting.