Earth Day 2021 will be observed worldwide on April 22. This year’s theme is Restore the Earth.

In Western North Carolina, restoration has been the foundation of the economy and quality of life for several decades. Improved pollution controls on industries, cleanup of contaminated soil, and ongoing conservation of waterways and forests have made it possible for the Heart of the Smokies to attract record millions of visitors annually. These and related efforts have improved human health, supported family farms and forests, and helped to bring balance to nature.

More is being done already and will continue over the next year and beyond thanks to new federal and state programs, notably Governor Cooper’s Climate Change Interagency Council and White House-led initiatives to be presented to Congress.

Such conservation programs strive to help WNC thrive despite increased precipitation, landslides and mudslides, and rising seasonal temperatures.

The first Earth Day was held on Dec. 2, 1970.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came into being when Congress voted to approve it. The EPA was organized by an expert panel convened by President Richard M. Nixon to tackle the U.S.’ worsening state of drinking water and streams, air and soil.

For more information on statewide and local conservation updates, visit the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality page, NC Climate Change Interagency Council, at https://deq.nc.gov/energy-climate/climate-change/nc-climate-change-interagency-council.

Acting Locally

Area nonprofits have teamed up with the City of Asheville to ensure that children today inherit a mountain lifestyle at least as good as their parents. Local Earth Day 2021 programs are looking for volunteers. The efforts are designed to help give everyone a chance to contribute.

Thursday, April 22 — Earth Day. Free online programs show new green technologies at work, including ecosystem restoration. Other programs relevant to rural North Carolina are reforestation, regenerative agriculture, equity and environmental justice, and citizen science. Workshops, celebrity speakers and musical performances. Visit https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/

Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m. to noon — Earth Day CleanUp at Lake Julian, 406 Overlook Extension, Arden. 828-250-4260, parks@buncombecounty.org. Volunteers are invited to help clean up Lake Julian Park and along Heywood Road in Arden. Projects include roadside trash removal, landscaping, wetland remediation, lake surface litter skimming, and more. COVID-19 safety guidelines will be enforced. Volunteers will be provided with cleanup supplies. Wear clothes that can get dirty. Volunteers who bring their own watercraft will be allowed to skim trash from the lake surface. Space is limited. Register at www.simpletix.com.

Saturday, April 24 — Bee City USA seed packet giveaway, weather permitting. bee mural site (Azalea public parking lot) between Main Street and King Street, facing Third Avenue East in downtown Hendersonville. Bee City USA will give away Bee the Change seed packets containing 19 wildflower species to support pollinators — 12 annuals for first-year color, plus seven perennials for second and successive years’ bloom. Details available at www.hendersonvillenc.gov/boards-and-commissions/tree-board/bee-city/pollinator-events.

Friday, April 23, A6 to 7 p.m. — Composting workshop, free. Participants will get free materials to start composting at home! For more information and to register, https://www.ashevillegreenworks.org/

Wednesday, April 28, 10 a.m. to noon — Sand Hill Nursery Workday, 24 Apac Circle. Tasks may include mulching, pruning, repotting trees, repairing the hoop house, tending to plants and more. Bring any snacks, beverages, or personal care items that you need. Tools will be provided. Dress for the weather and make sure to use sun protection. Contact Samantha at forestry@ashevillegreenworks.org with any questions.

Sunday, April 25, noon to 2 p.m. — River Arts District/Town Branch Cleanup, 289 Lyman St. Join One World Brewing and Positive Legacy for a cleanup of the River Arts District and the Town Branch Trash Trout. Cleanup supplies will be provided. Register at https://positive-legacy.networkforgood.com/events/28687-positive-legacy-presents-pours-for-positive-day-of-service-2021.

Thursday, April 29 (noon) to Saturday, May 1 (2 p.m) — Neighborhood TreeKeeper Presentation Series. Virtual and in-person. Asheville GreenWorks Neighborhood Tree Keeper training is a two-day virtual workshop with one in-person, socially distant learning day designed to teach everything you need to know to care for the urban trees in your community. Applicants should be 18 years old or older and live in Asheville or the surrounding area. After completion of both workshops, participants help care for and plant trees around the city.

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