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Earth Day too big for April 22

Festivities, events set to begin Saturday

POSTED: April 18, 2014 12:14 a.m.

Area schools and environmental groups are teaming for a series of events to celebrate Earth Day and educate citizens of Hall County about climate change, conservation and eco-technology. 

Since its inception in the United States in 1970, Earth Day events have seemingly grown larger by the year, spreading internationally and now observed on April 22 in more than 190 countries, according to the Earth Day Network. 

In fact, Earth Day has become such a worldwide celebration that environmental advocates and activists have begun extending it over several days. 

Earth Day festivities in Hall County are scheduled to kick off Saturday at the Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville. 

From 9 a.m. to noon, Natural Resources Manager Rob Stuart will lead a hands-on family service project that involves landscaping, mulching, weeding and trail relocation work on a washed-out roadbed. 

“Now that I have a large group of people coming, I’m going to reroute that trail ... more along the topography lines,” which will help limit erosion, Stuart said. 

Stuart said he already is expecting more than 40 people to join him Saturday morning, though he anticipates that number increasing, particularly as the remainder of the day’s activities begins in the afternoon. 

From noon to 3 p.m., visitors to Elachee can participate in a geocaching scavenger hunt that teaches navigation and “leave no trace” principles. Gardening experts will also be on hand to teach attendees how to attract butterflies and other pollinators. 

Parents will have the opportunity to sign their kids up for Camp Elachee, attend an open house for the nature preschool and also tour the E-house, an energy-efficient demonstration cottage. 

Face painting, arts and crafts, tours of the live animal room, a raffle for a free overnight stay at the Len Foote Hike Inn and naturalist-led trail walks also will be available. 

Meanwhile, the Hall County Green Alliance has partnered with Elachee, the University of North Georgia and Brenau University to present a lecture series on Tuesday, the actual Earth Day. 

Speakers will address contemporary issues in environmental studies, including how climate change will impact Georgia’s environment and economy. 

A reception begins at 6 p.m. at the Brenau Downtown Center, with exhibits on display. The lecture program begins at 7 p.m. 

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program, will discuss how climate change correlates with critical water conservation issues. 

Dr. Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Gainesville, will present a theological view of environmental stewardship. 

And Dr. James Porter, the Josiah Meigs distinguished professor of ecology and marine sciences at the University of Georgia, will discuss the effects of projected sea level rise on Georgia’s coastal environment and economy. 

Stan Brown, Oakwood city manager and chairman of the Hall County Green Alliance, will moderate the evening lecture event. 

“It’ll be a great presentation by these three speakers,” he said. 

The contrast between the hands-on outdoor activities offered at Elachee and the academic lecture programs is something Brown hopes to preserve on Earth Day in the coming years. 

“Anytime we can bring awareness of environmental stewardship ... I think it’s always a good thing,” he said.


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