Off The Clock: Earth Day is the perfect time to get outdoors

Earth Day will be celebrated on Saturday, April 22, providing the perfect opportunity to take a break from hectic daily life and enjoy the special benefits of springtime in New England. It’s also a time to contemplate the role we play in sustaining our natural surroundings.

“I believe it is a day for learning about America’s natural lands and its wildlife and how we can protect them by doing a better job of saving energy,” said Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson when he introduced the day of celebration in 1970.

More than 20 million people participated in that first Earth Day, launching an annual event marked by enjoyment of and service to our natural surroundings.

This year Earth Day activities throughout the Granite State are as diverse as the communities that host them. From community clean-ups, lectures and exhibitions to fun-filled family events designed to ignite a new appreciation for nature in the young and renewed respect in adults. All share a common goal, however – to encourage all New Hampshire residents to keep Earth Day with them year round.

“Earth Day is a day for people to think about their environment,” said Jim Martin, public information officer for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. “We at DES live it every day, and we hope people can take small incremental steps in their day-to-day lives to try and make a difference in the footprint they leave on the environment.”

Martin and others at DES are voicing concerns that New Hampshire residents are tuning out Earth Day and the importance of caring for the planet on a daily basis.

“We want people to ask themselves, ‘Do you do your part for the environment?’” Martin said. “We want people to know there are simple changes they can make in their daily routines that affect their footprint on the environment.”

This year DES will host the annual WILD New Hampshire Day along with the Fish and Game Department at its headquarters on Hazen Drive in Concord.

“It will be a great day,” Martin said. “We have at least 17 presenters scheduled and there will be wild animals and hands-on activities for the children.”

The free event will be held from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Denise Turcotte, coordinator of volunteers and special projects for the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn, shares Martin’s view.

“Many people feel every day should be Earth Day,” Turcotte said. “The day itself is a great time to bring a level of consciousness to our relationship with the earth.”

For Turcotte, just taking a moment out of a busy day to watch a hawk fly overhead or observe the two barred owls housed at the Auburn facility is enough to remind her of the importance of supporting our environment.

“For me it’s the moments of awe and wonder that keep me going,” Turcotte said. “It’s so important to have a connection with the environment. If we have that connection, we’re going to want to have a mutually sustaining relationship with it.”

Some Earth Day events scheduled for 2006:

• The New Hampshire Audubon Society will be welcoming visitors throughout the state on April 22. The Massabesic Audubon Center will be hosting a pond program early in the day with guided walks through its wetland area giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the interesting habitat and the creatures that call it “home.” An Earth Day celebration culminating with a Rattle Building workshop will take place from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.

• Prescott Farm Audubon Center in Laconia is inviting families to celebrate Earth Day by joining in its Earth Day Quest – an Earth Day related treasure hunt of sorts – from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.

• Veterans Park on Elm Street in Manchester will be the site of the second annual SCA Earth Day Celebration hosted by the Student Conservation Association. Music, refreshments and Earth-friendly children’s activities will fill the day. Barry Rock of the Carbon Coalition will be speaking.

• Earth Day in Jefferson and along New Hampshire’s Seacoast will both be sites of community clean-ups. North Country residents will meet at the junction of Route 116 and Whipple Road and gather litter from 9 a.m. to noon. A short hike to Mud Pond Bog and Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge will follow. Volunteers interested in pitching in to pick up litter along the seacoast will meet at the Rochester Arena at 9 a.m. and work in the area of their choice until 1 p.m.

For a complete listing of this year’s Earth Day events and their times and locations visit the DES Web site,

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