Howard gears up for Earth Day

Events set April 22 to highlight the health and beauty of the planet

April 11, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

The big anniversary was last year, but Howard County residents have planned at least as many Earth Day events this time around.

April 22 will mark 31 years since environmentalists first tried to draw attention to the health of the planet with a day of activities and demonstrations. A handful of organizations are planning local events this year.

The Howard County Conservancy has activities scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Earth Day at Mount Pleasant Farm, 10520 Old Frederick Road in Woodstock. The event is free, but organizers are requesting a $2 donation for parking.

Visitors can go on a bird-watching hike, hear about the intricacies of soil, learn how to camp without spoiling nature, see honeybees, look for wildflowers and get a lesson in composting - among other options. More than a dozen organizations will set up exhibits.

"It's a really nice community partnership," said Liz Stoffel, director of the conservancy. "We're kind of bringing education and fun together."

Also on Earth Day: Congregations from Oakland Mills Interfaith Center in Columbia will be the host of a festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with environmental groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and companies that cater to outdoor enthusiasts. The meeting house is at 5885 Robert Oliver Place.

Environmentalists also will meet in Patapsco Valley State Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 21 for hikes, games, tree planting and other activities. They will gather at Avalon Conservation Center in the Avalon area of the park, off U.S. 1.

"We're going to hand out bags and ask people to clean up as they hike around," said Lee Walker Oxenham, a member of the Howard County chapter of the Sierra Club, which is sponsoring the event.

On April 26, environmental organizations will set up shop from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway. Activists will distribute information and discuss local issues.

And the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission - which provides water to residents of the District of Columbia and its suburbs - will end a month of Earth Day events with activities at Brighton Dam from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28. Visitors may tour inside the dam, which straddles Howard and Montgomery counties. Registration: 301-774-9124.

Whatever the event, organizers say, the intent is the same.

"We're trying to make people more aware of the environment," said Dennis Luck, chairman of the Howard County chapter of the Sierra Club. "They are part of the environment. They forget that sometimes."

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