ST. GEORGE — April 22 is Earth Day, an internationally recognized day set aside to bring about environmental consciousness, to demonstrate and promote environmental awareness, and to take action to protect our planet.
In honor of this day, the Color Country Chapter of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, under the leadership of Conservation Committee chair Sue McElhaney, approached Gov. Gary Herbert to observe April 22 as Earth Day throughout the entire state of Utah, which he officially obliged by way of a signed declaration.
St George Mayor Jon Pike took similar action, presenting a proclamation to the Color Country Chapter members at the city’s April 18 council meeting.
While Earth Day dates back to 1970, according to a press release from the Color Country Chapter, it was in 1909 when the NSDAR recognized the need to protect and conserve the nation’s natural resources. This led to formation of a national conservation committee whose primary mission was to educate society members about these issues and then promote and encourage good stewardship practices for a more sustainable future.
This same mission focus continues today, challenging local NSDAR chapters to promote conservation initiatives throughout their respective communities. These include, among many other things, the observance of Earth Day, which came about when Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson founded a movement that promoted ecology and the respect for life on our plant while encouraging awareness to growing problems associated with air, water and soil pollution.
The very first Earth Day celebrations took place in 2,000 colleges and universities, roughly 10,000 primary and secondary schools and hundreds of communities across the United States.
When the 20-year anniversary approached, a group of environmental leaders organized a bigger campaign, this time going global and mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.
This year, Earth Day will be celebrated by more than 1 billion people in 192 countries with a theme of “Protect Our Species.” Traditionally, individuals or groups will gather to perform acts of service to the Earth such as the planting of trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting recycling programs, installing nesting boxes for bats or bees, and many other similar activities.
Besides the state and city proclamations, other Earth Day activities sponsored this year by the Color Country Chapter included the following:
- Arranging for the donation of two desert willow trees from Star Nursery in St George. One was planted at Tonaquint Nature Center, with the other at Red Hills Desert Garden near the bee pollinator area being sponsored by the chapter.
- Elaine York from the Nature Conservancy of Utah spoke at the chapter’s April meeting on actions being taken to protect the dwarf bear claw poppy, a rare and endangered perennial herb that be found nowhere else on Earth but Washington County. One of the habitat areas is White Dome Nature Preserve located in St George, and 800-acre parcel of land purchased solely to help protect this plant from extinction.
- Collecting organic seeds and sending them to Hindman Settlement School to support their Foodways program. This NSDAR supported school is located the Central Appalachian area in Kentucky. The seeds will be given to over 60 families within the school community. Color Country Chapter is hopeful that others throughout Washington County will take part in their own special activities to recognize and celebrate Earth Day in ways that will help better our planet.