This year’s Gila Earth Day will be celebrated on Saturday, April 20th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at Gough Park in Silver City. More than 30 organizations and businesses will showcase their mission, services, or green products for your yard, home, and person. The event will feature live entertainment and educational presentations throughout the day, as well as food and activities for children.
This year’s theme, Protect Our Species, focuses on the rapid extinction of animals around the world. The number of land-dwelling animals has fallen by 40% since 1970, and animal populations in freshwater ecosystems have plummeted by 75% since 1970. “In recent news, approximately 41% of insect species have been determined to be in decline, which could have far-reaching and catastrophic effects,” said event organizer Doyne Wrealli, Program Associate for Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP). “What can we do, individually and as a community, to Protect Our Species both locally and globally? We’ll get some answers from our local experts.”
The day will kick off with a parade on this year’s theme, “Protect Our Species,” starting at the intersection of Bullard and 6th streets in downtown Silver City at 9:30 am. The parade will be led by Maria Casler of the Monsoon Puppet Theater. Parade participants are encouraged to dress as an animal or plant, or just come as a representative of the human species. Participants should arrive downtown by 9:15 am to form up the line for the short walk. The parade will proceed north on Bullard, turn west on College, then turn north on Pope Street to Gough Park.
At half-past each hour, starting at 10:30 am, there will be Protect Our Species ‘teach-ins’ under the ramada at the park. Local experts will present information on local and regional native species that are under threat, global species’ extinction, the rapid decline of insect species, and the concept that all species, animals (people included) and plants, are inter-connected and inter-dependent upon one another.
At the top of each hour, musical acts will be featured: Moonshine (Wind Markham and Nan Franzblau) will start the day at 10:00 am, and will also play at 11:00. Santa Rita Slim (Jeff Ray) will play at 12:00, and Bisbee duo Auld Lang Syne (Timothy and Kathy Dick) will play at 1:00 pm.
The Gila Earth Day celebration couldn’t happen without the participation of the volunteers that make up the planning committee. “The dedication of the planning committee is absolutely vital to the event. They make all the big decisions and do the hard work.” said Wrealli. “We’re delighted to have three student interns from Aldo Leopold Charter School’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) garden crew on the planning committee this year: Marisa Holguin, Sarah Lynn, and Danny Mahl, in addition to GRIP’s Aldo Leopold Charter School intern, Rhiannon Blankenship. These students are planning a special event for children this year, a Pollinator Walk.”
“The Pollinator Walk will work like a Cakewalk,” said YCC student Danny Mahl. “There will be areas marked on the ground with an image of a pollinating species, like a butterfly, hummingbird, or insect, on each one. We will play music, participants will walk around, and when the music stops, the participants will stop. A pollinator species will be called out by common name first, then Latin name, and the person who is standing on that area will be given seeds or a seedling of a plant that feeds the pollinator.“ The grand prize for the event will be to release some young butterflies, if they have emerged from their chrysalis stage, under the care of the students, in time.
Several vendors will be offering a variety of seeds, seed bombs, starts, and potted native plants, vegetables, and herbs for your yard and garden; just in time for the spring planting season. A very popular activity will be returning this year: Sharon Bookwalter will be registering adult voters, and kids can vote for their favorite of three native species candidates. “This was such a big hit that the Daily Press published the results of the election the next day,” said Bookwalter. “The kids were very engaged in the process!”
There won’t be recycling collection at Earth Day as in previous years. “While the Town of Silver City is still collecting single-stream recyclables curb-side, we won’t be able to collect paper for shredding or electronic waste on Saturday.” said David Krisch, a former member of the Town of Silver City Recycling Advisory Committee. “We need to focus on Reducing and Reusing, the other two Rs. We should add a fourth R: Refusing to purchase items that use a lot of plastic packaging, and communicating to the manufacturer why we are not purchasing from them.”
The sponsors of this year’s Gila Earth Day include Aldo Leopold Charter School, The Commons, Gila Native Plant Society, Gila Resources Information Project, Grant County Beekeepers, J&J Signs, Monsoon Puppet Theater, Lone Mountain Natives, and Skywest Media.
“There are always last-minute additions and great surprises. We’ll have something for everyone,” said Wrealli. For more information, go to www.gilaresources.info, or contact Doyne Wrealli at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 575-297-9734.