ROCKLAND – The rains failed to stop an Earth Day Fair on the front lawn of the Rockland Public Library April 22. Organizations set up booths to educate the public on conservation efforts in our area that carry implications around the globe.
The Rockland Parks and Recreation Department had a large presence at the fair promoting their May 5, clean up of Rockland’s beaches and the Harbor Trail.
Sarah Austin, chairwoman for Rockland Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, said not only are they looking at the beaches and trail but some of the parks and neighborhoods.
“We would like to see as many people as possible involved,” she said. “We have about a dozen people interested right now ad if the weather is nice we hope for a really great turn out from the community.”
Austin said they would like to do cleanups in the spring and the fall. The event will kick off at Sandy Beach, 2-12 Scott Street, from 1 to 3 p.m.
“There will be bags to collect litter in and gloves provided,” she said. “Bring weather appropriate clothing and good footwear and you’re all set. At 3 p.m. we’ll rejoin at Sandy Beach and have a free community BBQ.”
Don Reimer of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a nationally supported organization.
“It supports seabirds and other wildlife on coastal islands,” he said. “Here in Maine, there are 73 islands that fall under the jurisdiction of the refuge. The friends' group supports activities so that others can be out on the islands in the summer banding and studying birds.”
Theo Pratt was representing Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Probably one of the coolest names an organization could have it immediately grabs your attention and you’re curious. Pratt explained how they got their name.
“It was started in the Southwest in Utah in reaction to a comment Senator Oren Hatch made about whether or not Utah should protect wilderness,” she said. “He said his constituents didn’t care about wilderness because they are all old people.”
Pratt said a group of approximately 50 women took umbrage with the comment and formed a grassroots organization that engages and inspires activism to preserve and protect wilderness.
“The name came from when one of these groups of women was coming out of the woods from a hike,” she said. “Somebody said look at that bunch of great old broads, and so the name stuck. The organization is in 40 states now and this is the first Maine chapter.”
Deborah Lee Roxby and Becky Bartovics were representing the Sierra Club.
Bartovics said the club advocates explore, protect and enjoy the environment. They have 63 chapters across the country. This is the chapter’s 26th year in Maine.
Roxby said on May 4, at Belfast’s Hutchinson Center, the club’s Building Thriving Communities, 4th Climate Action Conference, will take place.
“We will have 45 speakers,” she said. “Our keynote speaker is internationally known and it’s all about giving people tools to take back to their community to help them work on greater sustainability.”
Roxby said they are looking for people to help organize solar projects and insulating homes.
“We want to put people in touch with people who can help improve their homes and save more money,” she said. “Also to improve their health because this conference is going to be focusing on health and the economy.”
Susie Meadows represented the Project Puffin, Audubon Society, at 311 Main Street, in Rockland. The Center celebrates the success of Project Puffin in bringing puffins and other rare Maine seabirds back to historic nesting islands.
“We provide outreach to the community and education to the visitors that come through our doors,” she said. “We educate them about the history of project puffin which almost became extinct at one point.”
Meadows said they have more than 10,000 visitors a year at the center.
Carmey Doucette advocated the no-balloon challenge.
“We want people to stop celebrating by releasing balloons into the air,” she said. “Inevitably they end up in the oceans or out in the woods and wildlife will eat them or get tangled in the string. We are saying celebrate with bubbles and not balloons.”
Vanessa Berry is with ecomaine. Ecomaine, according to its website, is a nonprofit waste management organization based in Portland serving more than 70 member communities, comprising a combined population of more than 400,000 people, or a third of Maine’s population.
Berry said ecomaine has a single sort recycling facility that Rockland will be participating in soon.
“We also have a waste to energy facility,” she said. “Rockland’s trash is already coming to us. We practice something called the waste hierarchy in everything we do which is reduce, reuse, recycle, but it goes a little further than that with composting and waste to energy.”
Barry said their waste facility processes 175,000 tons of trash a year and they generated 14 megawatts of electricity.
Wes Pratt was showcasing Friends of the Weskeag River booth.
“The Weskeag River is very important for birds and wildlife,” he said. “Friends of the Weskeag River is concerned with the health of the river, so we are doing periodic monitoring of the water quality of river; temperature, salinity and bacterial counts. We are continuing the work that was started by the George’s River Land Trust a few years ago.”
Earth Day trivia for you from Traveltrivia.com: Which country has the most carbon emissions?
Even though China is the indisputable leader when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions at 9040.74 million metric tons, their per capita emissions pale in comparison to many others on the list.
Coming in at number two on the list is the United States, with annual per capita emissions of 15.53 metric tons compared to China’s much lower 6.59.
This ought to serve as a reminder to the damage we cause to the planet we all call home. What can you do to diminish the negative impact? Riding your bike when possible, reusing and recycling and watching your water and electrical usage are great places to start. We're all in this together.