SETAC on Earth Day 2012
Jodi Mohs-Davis, 3M and Chris Ivey, United States Geological Survey
This year's Earth Day celebration, 22 April 2012, along with World Environment Day coming up on 5 June, serves to increase awareness of important environmental quality issues including sustainable development, water resources, energy, recycling and waste reduction, green economy, conservation and biodiversity and environmental education. Many of these issues are within SETAC's mission. Several SETAC members participated in Earth Day events this year and a few shared their stories with us.
SETAC member Steve Bay participated in the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's (CMA) Earth Day event on 21 April. CMA is a facility of the city of Los Angeles, California. Specifically, Steve was a co-instructor for a K-12 teacher workshop on Bird Ecology and Plastic Pollution. Steve gave a lecture on his agency's research on marine debris pollution in Southern California and also did a demonstration on a field guide for teachers to conduct beach surveys for debris. About 15 teachers from elementary, middle and high schools were invited to participate.
Approximately 20 volunteers of all ages assisted in a revegetation program centered on Colorado Lagoon, an impaired urban wetland in Long Beach, California, the site of this year's SETAC North America annual meeting. Armed with shovels and spades, the morning involved some strenuous digging as participants helped remove invasive plant species and planted more than 100 native salt marsh and drought-resistant species. Organized by the Friends of the Colorado Lagoon (FOCL), a non-profit coalition of environmentally concerned citizens, the event included SETAC members who use the lagoon for outreach and for educational purposes to teach local citizens, students and other stakeholders about the frailty and plight of the few remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California. Originally connected to the ocean via Alamitos Bay through a series of channels traversing the Los Cerritos wetlands, the lagoon has seen various phases of urban and municipal development since the mid 1930s, which has resulted in its isolation from the open waters, causing problems with flushing, stagnation and periodic eutrophication. Since that time, the lagoon has been a catchment area for municipal run-off and stormwater waste from five watersheds draining the southern Long Beach area. The lagoon is currently undergoing a large restoration project that involves the removal of 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, thanks largely to the dedication and effort of FOCL.
In Missouri, state and federal agencies came together to help educate young people about protecting the environment at the 18th annual Earth Day celebration. The event, sponsored and hosted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, took place on Friday, 20 April from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on the south lawn of the Missouri state capitol in Jefferson City and included SETAC members as participants. The event was geared toward fifth-grade students, but was free and open to the public. Earth Day 2012 featured interactive environmental displays, educational games and entertainment. Students learned about Missouri's energy, air quality, water quality, geology, land surveying, state parks, reclaiming mined land, recycling, conservation practices that help prevent soil erosion and protect water resources and much more. The slogan for this year's Earth Day festivities was "Hurry Out and Play at Your Missouri State Parks Today." Thousands of students attended the Earth Day celebration.
At another event, the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT) organized what has become an annual event to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up portions of the Kinnickinnic River, called the Kinni for short. The Kinni is a Class I trout stream located in northwestern Wisconsin and KRLT actively protects 2,000 acres and 8 miles of riverbank in this beautiful area. Within a few hours, about 50 dedicated volunteers were able to pick up several pounds of trash including 36 tires! KRLT had several partners in this year's event. SETAC members were there to provide posters and discussion at the lunch following the river cleanup covering such topics as Ecosystems – What They Are, How Are They Damaged and How Can They Be Preserved and also addressing the growing presence of pharmaceuticals in neighboring Minnesota's wastewater effluents.
Even though the Earth Day celebrations for this year are now over, keep in mind that World Environment Day is still coming up on 5 June. We want to find out what you are doing so that we can share your ideas and experiences with all SETAC members and help build momentum for a strong SETAC presence on future Earth Day and World Environment Day events. If you participated in an Earth Day event this year, or are planning an event for World Environment Day, feel free to share your information by posting it at the SETAC at Earth Day 2012 link on the SETAC Communities page under Open Communities, or if you'd prefer, send it straight to us and we'll take it from there. We're looking forward to hearing from you!
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