Like many others whose birthdays occurred during this pandemic, Earth Day will celebrate its 50th birthday on April 22nd 2020 amidst reduced gatherings and fanfare. Environmental organizations throughout the world will change their plans for commemorating the important day.
In an interesting twist of fate, as the world’s human inhabitants suffer the negative impacts of Coronavirus, our environment has experienced a benefit. By shutting down industrial activity and reducing travel, the coronavirus pandemic has slashed air pollution levels around the world according to satellite imagery from the European Space Agency. It is reasonable to expect that once activity resumes corresponding pollution levels will also return. Yet some local environmental and municipal leaders believe that lessons can be learned from this experience.
“Obviously, this is a ridiculously high price to pay for reduced pollution levels,” said Lisa Wolff, Executive Director of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), “but now that we’re here, we should use this opportunity to make positive adjustments — like reducing fossil fuel usage and better stewarding our land — to continue benefiting the environment.”
“To achieve Earth Day’s objectives, we don’t need large celebratory gatherings, but rather small individual actions like taking walks instead of the car, meeting online, planting trees, and replacing portions of your lawn with native wildflowers. These actions reduce fossil fuel consumption, provide wildlife habitat, and reduce storm water runoff,” she added.
According to the Earth Day website, its mission is to build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and the planet.
Joe Lawver, Mayor of Pennington Borough stated: “Earth Day reminds us that now is the time for us to individually and collectively take action to reduce our impact on our one and only home planet.”
“Borough residents will not only be recognizing Earth Day but it is the first day of the new plastic bag free Hopewell [Borough] and a great new beginning for our environment on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day,” agreed Paul Anzano, Mayor of Hopewell Borough.
At the state level, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection published a video sharing that, in celebration of New Jersey DEP 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of America’s first Earth Day, the department is giving the gift of a heritage historic Salem oak seedling to each of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities.
Catherine McCabe, NJDEP Commissioner, shared: “In 50 years, these trees will have removed over two million pounds of carbon dioxide from our air. They will conserve over 143 years’ worth of households electricity, and they will reduce the damaging effects of over 27 million gallons of stormwater and so much more.”
FoHVOS is partnering with all three Hopewell Valley municipalities to plant their seedlings in meaningful spaces. While the planned public events surrounding the plantings will be cancelled, the benefits to the land and earth will prevail.
“We are so fortunate to live in this beautiful valley with people who also value our open spaces, clean air, clean water and the many trails and parks which give us the opportunity to get outside to connect to nature,” said Kristin McLaughlin, Mayor of Hopewell Township, “We are also fortunate to have excellent environmental partners to help us steward these lands so our grandchildren can continue to enjoy them into the future.”
Since residents cannot attend the Salem Oak tree plantings, FoHVOS is offering a Zoom meeting call with author, photographer, and native plant expert Rachel Mackow who will share how to add Native Deer Resistant Plants to your garden. Zoom allows for both screen sharing and questions almost as if you were in the room seeing a live presentation.
“As a native plant nursery owner, the question I am most asked is ‘What can I grow that’s native and the deer won’t eat?’ Luckily, there are many natives you [can] plant, even if you have deer,” stated Ms. Mackow.
“Our Earth Day workshop provides a great opportunity for attendees to learn what plants are best for our earth that can last amid the voracious deer population in our Valley. To kickstart the positive momentum, FoHVOS will plant a tree for each person that attends this workshop,” added Lisa Wolff.
Gardening with Native Deer Resistant Plants Zoom Talk Details:
- Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 6pm
- $5 registration will subsidize tree planting costs. This fee may be waived with discount code “FREETALK”.
- Includes Zoom link and 10% Discount code for Wild Ridge Plants!
- EVENT REGISTRATION HERE
FoHVOS is an accredited nonprofit land trust dedicated to conserving the Valley’s character by collaborating with the community to preserve land, protect natural resources, and inspire a new generation of conservation. Since our inception, we have preserved over 7,500 acres of land and inspired thousands of partners and volunteers. To learn more about FoHVOS, call 609-730-1560 or visit www.fohvos.org.
Wild Ridge Plants is owned and operated by Rachel Mackow and Jared Rosenbaum. They are located in Pohatcong Township, NJ where Warren County’s rolling farmland meets the Musconetcong River and the rugged ridges of the Highlands. They offer a range of services including a native plant nursery, habitat restoration design, botanical surveys, and ecological workshops. For general inquiries, call (908) 319-7230 or visit www.wildridgeplants.com.
Submitted by FoHOVOS