Earth Day educates community |

Earth Day educates community

This Saturday, April 19, people around the world will unite in their concern for the environment and recognition of its importance to the global community for the 33rd annual Earth Day. In the Tahoe-Truckee area, Earth Day is being celebrated at Northstar-at-Tahoe. Over 70 local agencies and non-profits will be in attendance, along with several bands, to help residents and visitors learn more about protecting Lake Tahoe and to raise awareness about its fragile ecosystem.

The Tahoe Truckee Earth Day Festival, now in its fourth year, has become the area’s largest environmental event. The festival has grown from 200 attendees in the first year to 3,000 people in 2002. Organizers moved the event from Sierra Nevada College to Northstar to attract a larger audience.

“Our primary goal is to reach as many people as possible,” said Heather Segale, one of the festival organizers and environmental education coordinator at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “In the past, the same crowd of people came to every event. We were preaching to the choir.”

It is also the only regional event that features all of the local agencies and organizations together at one location. The list includes the Bear League, California Tahoe Conservancy, Sierra Club, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, and the Truckee River Watershed Council.

The principle objective of Earth Day is to educate people about their community and how they can preserve the unique beauty of the area. People will be able to learn about watershed health, forest health, pollution prevention, alternative energy, waste management, and recycling.

“We want to educate folks about the various agencies, issues, and programs going on in the region, and what they need to do to help prevent pollution of Lake Tahoe and Truckee,” said Segale.

More than an environmental festival, Segale feels that Tahoe-Truckee’s Earth Day is a community event.

“It’s a place to come if you are interested in learning more about the community you live in,” she said.

This is especially important for an area such as Tahoe, which most people visit or make their home in because of its natural beauty.

“Of all the places that should have an Earth Day, this is a place that deserves a fabulous one,” Segale said. “The reason most people are here is because it’s a beautiful place.”

For the 75 participating agencies and non-profit organizations, Earth Day gives them a chance to share their work with residents, answer questions and recruit volunteers.

“We have a message to deliver to people who use the outdoors,” said Tahoe Rim Trail Executive Director Mark Kimborough. “It’s an opportunity to show people we exist, promote the trail, give people information about the trail and everything they need to know about hiking, biking, and equestrian.”

The Tahoe Rim Trail participates in Earth Day festivals in Reno, South Lake Tahoe, and Sacramento as well.

The booths will also include earth-friendly vendors selling pottery, clothing, herbs and food.

Lisa’s Central Market of Truckee saw Earth Day as a perfect fit with its mission to provide organic produce and sustainable global agriculture.

“Organic food supports a healthier earth because we don’t use any herbicides,” said the market’s Tony MacAllister, “Our produce is 70 percent organic, which means 70 percent of our business doesn’t pollute the earth.”

As an all-volunteer, non-profit event, Earth Day organizers had to raise around $10,000 to put on the festival, much of it in in-kind donations. The solar-powered stage was donated by the Independent Power Corporation. If Saturday turns out to be cloudy, the solar panels will be used to charge a generator.

While organizers have been giving presentations at schools during the past month, Earth Day officially kicks off with a film festival on Thursday at the Parasol building in Incline Village. The six short films include “Turtle World,” an animated allegory about the human race’s survivability; “Affluenza,” which describes consumerism as a social disease that impacts communities and the environment; and “Journey to Planet Earth,” which links armed conflict and political crises with environmental issues.

Saturday’s events run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The band line-up includes The Blues Monsters, D-owaga All Nations Drum Group, Pangaea Percussion and Wind, and The Flying Other Brothers featuring G.E. Smith from the Saturday Night Live Band and keyboardist Pete Sears from Hot Tuna.

Free round-trip trolley service is available from Truckee and Stateline/Kings Beach to Northstar.

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