Events scheduled across western Montana

Earth Day began in the heat of battle 30 years ago.

The Vietnam War was in full throttle and so too were American anti-war protests. President Richard Nixon was in office and the country was ripped asunder.

But amid the strife and death and national discord, a tradition honoring the earth and the natural world emerged - Earth Day.

On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans turned out to support hundreds of events across the country to express their fear about the declining health of the environment.

That singular day is credited with bringing together under one umbrella people with interests as wide-ranging as angers, urban families, mining protesters, ghetto activists and bird watchers.

It is also recognized as the day a new political movement was born: environmentalism.

Within months of the 1970 event, Congress enacted the Clean Air Act and created the Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act followed two years later.

On Saturday, the nation celebrates Earth Day again, and so too will Missoula-area residents and residents in the Bitterroot Valley.

Earth Day activities in the Missoula area:

€ Learn about prairie wildflowers and noxious weeds by helping to restore a small prairie patch without herbicides. From 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Missoula Parks and Recreation will sponsor a community weed pull on Mount Jumbo and Mount Sentinel. Bring gloves and water. If you can't meet the groups at the trailheads of either the M or L, just head up the trails and you'll soon bump into work crews. For more information, call Kate Supplee at Missoula Parks and Recreation, 523-4669.

€ Help Petty Mountain breathe and help feed the area's bighorn sheep - pull knapweed. The weed-pulling crews will gather west of Missoula at the Petty Pasture trailhead at 10 a.m. The event is sponsored by the Bitterroot Mission Group of the Sierra Club. To get there: Head west on Interstate 90. Take the Petty Creek exit and go left under the freeway up Petty Creek for about five miles. The regular trailhead is blocked by a land sale, so watch for Sierra Club signs. Bring sturdy gloves, boots and a weed digging tool if you have one. For more information, call Len Broberg at 549-6031.

€ Help plant trees and pick up trash in Greenough Park with the Montana Conservation Corps from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. For more information, call 721-3000, extension 1220. The event is also sponsored by the UM Volunteer Action Services.

€ If the little ones aren't up for cleaning and planting, head over to Fact & Fiction bookstore. At 11:30 a.m., two Missoula authors will give readings from their children's books. Peggy Christian will read from "If You Find a Rock," and Dorothy Patent will read from "Saving the Earth." Illustrator Joanna Yardley will show her book "Edna." Then at 2:30 p.m., Monica Paxson, co-author of "Dead Mars Dying Earth," will give a slide show and discussion. Paxson's book examines scientific discoveries of Mars and shows how that planet's history may reveal the future of our planet. Writes Paxson: "Through global warming, the thinning of the ozone layer and our continued use of fossil fuels, we are reversing the process that first made human life possible on Earth and that once nurtured life on Mars. We have set ourselves on course for extinction, but we can certainly slow the process down." For more information about the events, call 721-2881.

€ Parents, teachers, students and community volunteers will begin construction of the Outdoor Discovery Core, a nature area on a portion of the school yard at Lewis and Clark School. The project will feature native plants and trees, a butterfly garden, a shallow re-circulating stream and bird houses and feeders.

Hamilton events:

€ Tune your bike from 10 a.m. to noon at a bike clinic with master bike technician Philip Kempff at 421 N. 2nd St. in Hamilton. Bring your bike, any tools you may have and plenty of questions. In case of rain, the clinic will be moved inside the River Street Theater ( at the same address).

€ Be in awe of what you can create out of junk and trash at the second annual "Recycled Art Show" at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Art City, 407 W. Main St. For more information, call 363-4764.

€ Learn how to make your own recycled paper with the folks from Bitterroot Ecological Awareness Resources from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the River Street Theater. Learn the basics and a few fancy tricks too.

€ The fine art of composting will be taught by Sue Wall-MacLane from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Community Garden. The local compost guru will teach the basics of composting and how to keep it going. In case of rain or snow, the workshop will be canceled.

€ A communitywide clean up will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. If you'd like to protect the Bitterroot River, meet at B.E.A.R. and we'll proceed downtown to re-paint storm drains with "no dumping" signs. If you'd like to pick up trash, meet at B.E.A.R. and we'll proceed to Kiwanis park and the river front.

€ Celebrate Earth Day and all your hard work at a potluck at the River Street Theater.

€ Continue celebrating with a concert by Walkin' Jim Stoltz, 7 p.m. at the Hamilton City Hall. The concert is free and children are welcome. Stoltz's appearance is on behalf of the Friends of the Bitterroot and the Western Montana Roadless Working Group. For more information about the events, call Jamie Ogden at B.E.A.R., 375-9100.

Related activities:

€ Win a mountain bike for your recycling efforts. To mark the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, Keep Montana Clean & Beautiful, will award four bikes to winners from a drawing. Enter the drawing at your local participating recycling center, or at Keep Montana Clean & Beautiful. The non-profit recycling and solid waste education organization can be reached at 406-443-6242, or e-mail at recyclemontana.org.

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