Residents do some spring cleaning on Earth Day
Yampatika celebration offers information and fun
Steamboat Springs — The Earth Day 2002 celebration Saturday at Howelsen Hill offered visitors an incentive to get their hands dirty.
Children and adults who picked up trash along the Core Trail and near the base of Howelsen Hill earned a turn at throwing darts at balloons that contained $5, $10 and $20 gift certificates to Yampatika.
Yampatika organized the event at Olympian Hall and invited several local individuals and organizations to man interactive booths that explained their roles in caring for the environment.
The chance to clean up the city and win some prizes appealed to 12-year-olds Luke Hottenroth and Ramsey Bernard and 10-year-old Jordan Bernard. Filling bags with trash was not a hard job, Hottenroth said, but he and his friends wouldn’t need to pick up litter if people properly disposed of their trash.
“People can recycle instead of tossing it out,” he said.
The amount of trash Ramsey Bernard saw along the banks of the Yampa River surprised and disappointed him. People should be more responsible for their trash, he said.
People who litter don’t realize how much their carelessness harms the environment, he said.
His younger brother, Jordan, thought Earth Day served as a good reminder to care for land and water in the Yampa Valley.
“It will preserve our earth so we can live here longer,” he said.
Yampatika’s trash contest alerted children and adults to the unnecessary amount of waste that threatens some of the city’s most precious resources, said Era MacDonald of Yampatika.
The trash contest, as well as a contest that awards a $200 gift certificate from Yampatika to the person who collects the most dog waste, runs until Friday.
MacDonald asked that people in the contest not turn in dog waste from their backyard, but instead concentrate their efforts on cleaning up waste on Forest Service and city land.
Yampatika hopes to promote personal responsibility for the environment through the contests, she said.
Trash and dog waste that collect along the Core Trail and Forest Service trails can eventually wash into the Yampa River and pollute the very source that meets the recreational and drinking needs of the city, MacDonald said.
Because people in the Yampa Valley live so close to so many natural resources, they are somewhat more conscious of the importance of preservation than people who do not have immediate access to wilderness, said Rich Levy of the Trappers Lake Sierra Club
“There is more awareness,” he said.
Levy manned a booth Saturday and answered questions about the Sierra Club’s ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
The unfavorable weather might have kept people away, but the people who came hopefully walked away with a better understanding of how they could contribute to a healthier environment, he said.
Diann Pipher, public affairs specialist with the Forest Service, discussed ecological processes, such as the bark beetle epidemic and blowdown, which occur in the surrounding Routt and Medicine Bow national forests.
“All these things that happen in the forests are natural events that are fascinating to watch,” Pipher said.
Earth Day provides an excellent forum for people to discuss ways to strike a balance between their own values, such as protecting property from fire, and natural processes, such as wildland fires, she added.
That balance can be difficult in an age where lifestyles often clash with the message of Earth Day, Bunny Sings Wolf said.
Sings Wolf, a singer-songwriter from Newcastle, Wyo., entertained the crowd with folk songs and ballads about the sacredness of Mother Earth.
Her lyrics express an appreciation for the environment and people’s connection to the earth.
“We need to see the connectedness of all things,” she said.
Life can become so busy that it gradually severs the connection people once felt with the land, Sings Wolf said.
One of her songs, “Two Worlds Clash,” reflects the quandary people face in trying to reconcile their way of life with the natural world. Earth Day reminds people of the importance of rediscovering that connection, she said.
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