Earth Day in South Portland expands to a week

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland Land Trust, in partnership with the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront Department, is expanding its annual Earth Day recognition to an eight-day series of environmental activities and events.

“With the need to create awareness around environmental protection,” SPLT President Richard Rottkov said, “it isn’t just about picking up trash or litter, which is what Earth Day had been about. It’s creating awareness of a much greater climate change.”

The week of events, scheduled for April 20-28, will coincide with both Earth Day on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 26. Updates are available on the land trust’s Facebook page; contact SPLT for more information. 

The annual clean-up day at Mill Creek Park will kick off the week. The public, organizations and businesses are encouraged to participate. More than 300 people have participated in past years, Rottkov said.

“We’re just excited to get the community engaged for the whole week,” said April Bolstridge, the city park ranger and treasurer of SPLT. “It’s an important time to care for our Earth.”

Activities scheduled for the rest of the week include a film festival related to climate change, featuring a panel discussion with the filmmakers; tree planting; nature writing; cleaning up designated public green spaces, and a final celebration day of fun family activities.

“As a nonprofit, we’re not allowed to be political,” Rottkov said about SPLT. “Yet, preservation and climate change are one of the most political things in the world. There’s a student movement, a young people’s movement, throughout the world.”

The week of events is supported by 40 organizations and nonprofits ranging from local churches to the Girl Scouts of America through in-kind donations, volunteers, and social media publicizing, Susan Cummings-Lawrence, an SPLT trustee, said in a phone interview.

South Portland High School has also planned a special curriculum and events surrounding the environment in the days preceding Earth Day.

“Part of our mission is education, so if we can create this generation of students who have become better stewards of the environment, then we’ll have accomplished our goal,” Rottkov said.

Besides the annual Earth Day events, SPLT is tasked with creating and supporting trails and parks throughout the city and educating the larger community about land stewardship.

SPLT owns six properties and holds 12 easements, including the newly acquired 9.2-acre Dow’s Woods Nature Preserve near South Portland High School.

Earth Week events

Saturday, April 20

• Earth Day clean-up at Mill Creek Park, 8:30-11:30 a.m. Check in across the street from Hannaford Bros.

• April Stool’s Day clean-up at Hinckley Park, Willard Beach and Bug Light, 9 a.m.-noon. 

Sunday, April 21

• Scavenger Hunt, 2-3 p.m., Hinckley Park, Highland Avenue parking lot.

• Nature Writing Workshop, 3-4 p.m., Hinckley Park.

Tuesday, April 23

• Film Festival, 6:30-8:30 p.m., South Portland High School. Two screenings followed by discussion with the filmmakers: “Negotiating with Nature” by Stefan van Norden, and “Maine Road Trip to the Future” by Anne Burt.

Thursday, April 25

• Corporate clean-up day at designated sites for volunteer groups from organizations and businesses. Contact SPLT for locations.

Friday, April 26

• Planetarium Show, 6-7 p.m. at USM Southworth Planetarium, Portland: A film screening of “Fragile Planet” and a tour of the night sky; $5 admission.

Saturday, April 27

• Celebration at Redbank Community Center, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bounce house, games, crafts, food trucks, Bones and Stones live concert, face painting, Spark’s Ark live animal presentation, guided hike on the Long Creek Trail.

South Portland Land Trust President Richard Rottkov at Dow’s Woods, a newly acquired 9.2-acre preserve near South Portland High School. “Part of our mission is education, so if we can create this generation of students who have become better stewards of the environment, then we’ll have accomplished our goal,” he said.

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