“Earth Day is dramatic evidence of a broad new national concern that cuts across generations and ideologies. It may be symbolic of a new communication between young and old about our values and priorities.”
--Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, credited as the founder of Earth Day, speaking in Denver at the first Earth Day
Earth Day is officially designated as April 22, but the day has come to have such strong significance this year that it is being commemorated with events throughout the month. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, at a time when the burgeoning environmental movement was starting to make an impact on popular culture. At the time, air and water pollution were generally accepted as unfortunate but necessary byproducts of the prosperity brought by industry and manufacturing. Concepts that we take for granted today, such as recycling, composting, and emission standards for vehicles, were just beginning to take hold in the cultural consciousness.
The publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 was an early influence on the environmental movement, but the idea for Earth Day really took off after the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969. People began to realize that we have to protect the environment with a truly strong dedication.
Earth Day is of particular importance in the California State Parks this year, with 70 of them facing the prospect of closure on July 1. Several of these 70 parks , but a long-term solution to the ongoing budget crisis is as elusive as a mountain lion. Supporters of state parks are encouraged to come out in force this year and demonstrate with our backs, arms, and legs how much we love our parks. There are so many events taking place in the state parks of Marin that they have been spread out over two different weekends.
Each year, the California State Parks Foundation sponsors a number of Earth Day events at state parks around California. This year, Angel Island was chosen as one of the sites, the only one in Marin County. The event takes place this Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The day’s activities will consist of making improvements to the pier at Ayala Cove, including installation of a safety railing, pressure washing the pier, and staining redwood picnic tables. This work site has proven to be so popular that registration is already full. Nevertheless, there are plenty of additional events to choose from in other state parks around the county.
At Mount Tamalpais State Park, the Mount Tamalpais Interpretive Association is holding an Earth Day event on April 14 that will focus on trail maintenance and non-native plant removal in the Pantoll area of the park. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own gloves and water, as well as sunscreen and sturdy shoes for working in rough terrain. The workday starts at 9 a.m. and goes until noon, followed by a free lunch and a raffle of a number of donated prizes. Call 415-258-2410 for information and registration. Drop-in volunteers are also welcome.
An Earth Day event will take place the following day, Sunday, April 15, at Olompali State Historic Park just north of Novato. This volunteer work day is part of the Park Champions program, sponsored by the California State Parks Foundation, and will go from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Volunteers will work on pruning the historic orchard and painting the blacksmith’s house. This event is especially good for people who are dedicated to our state parks, because Olompali is one of the 70 parks on the closure list. Volunteers will be able to help The Olompali People, part of the nonprofit Marin State Parks Association, which is working to keep this park open.
The Earth Day Marin 2012 Festival will take place on April 21st at Marin Civic Center Lagoon Park. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature entertainment, food, children’s activities, and a Congressional Candidates Forum on the Environment. Outreach tables will host nonprofit groups that support the state parks, including Friends of China Camp, which is working to save China Camp State Park from closure.
Another Earth Day event will take place the following day, April 22, at China Camp State Park. Sponsored by the Marin Chinese Cultural Association (MCCA) in conjunction with Friends of China Camp, this volunteer work day will focus on cleaning up the beach and grounds at China Camp Village, from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. Bring work gloves and water. MCCA will provide a picnic afterwards. This event is suitable for the whole family, including young children.
A great way to commemorate Earth Day and support the state parks is to see the newly released movie The First 70. Produced by Heath Hen Films, this documentary is being shown throughout the state to raise awareness about the impending closure of many of our state parks. One of the first screenings in the Bay Area will be on Earth Day, April 22. It will take place at Sports Basement in the Presidio of San Francisco, starting at 5 p.m. The film makes use of magnificent cinematography to tell the story of state park closures and the impact this will have on the economy, health, and well being of our state. Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased online. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to remember the words of Joni Mitchell in her 1970 (the same year as the first Earth Day) song "Big Yellow Taxi":
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone