Environmentalists in county to mark Earth Day with hikes, history, hay wagons

Free celebrations planned at Patapsco Valley park and Woodstock tomorrow

April 21, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard County environmentalists have planned two celebrations on the 30th anniversary of Earth Day tomorrow, one showcasing state parks and the other offering nature walks and up-close lessons about bees.

Patapsco Valley State Park will be the host for ECO-FEST from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., bringing in groups ranging from Save Our Streams to the Maryland Natural Resources Police. Activities will be held in the Avalon area of the park, off South Street in Elkridge.

Activities will include rubber-ducky races, hay wagon rides, mountain bike safety demonstrations, workshops on native spring wildflowers and history lessons about the valley.

In the other celebration, about a dozen groups -- private, nonprofit and government -- are sponsoring activities at Howard County Earth Day 2000 in Woodstock. The event is organized by Vision-Howard County, a group of community activists formerly known as Howard County -- A United Vision.

Activities are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Howard County Conservancy's Mount Pleasant site at 10520 Old Frederick Road. They will include a bird-watching hike, stream-monitoring lessons, honeybee demonstrations, how-to composting workshops and environment-theme games for children.

Admission to both events is free, although some activities at ECO-FEST have small fees.

Howard County Earth Day 2000 organizers hope their event will be a springboard for planet-conscious cooperation.

"The environmental interest in the county is very strong, but it's divided among many different groups," said Mary Catherine Cochran, Earth Day coordinator.

"Hopefully, by bringing them all together, we can start working on an `environmental ethic.' When I was growing up, Earth Day was a big deal. With the new generation coming up, I think we need to instill the importance of being the stewards of the environment."

Nationally, Earth Day was launched in 1970 as an attempt to focus attention on the environment and as a protest against practices that damage the planet. The Earth Day Network in Seattle estimates that 500 million people worldwide will participate in this year's observance.

"It's an opportunity for people to take positive action on behalf of the environment," said Michelle Ackermann, communications director for the network. "We've come a long way since 1970 but we have a long way to go as well."

Ned Tillman, president of the Howard County Conservancy's board, says he has reason to be "cautiously optimistic." The county is quickly being developed, but a fair amount of green space remains, he said.

"It could still be a place that lives more in harmony with the environment. Hopefully, Earth Day will go a long ways to getting the environmental groups to work together and developing an environmental support system."

Information about Howard County Earth Day 2000: Howard County Conservancy, 410-465- 8877. Information about ECO-FEST: 410-461-5005.

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