Honoring the earth: Arbor-Earth Day celebration planned for April 22
This year, a Eureka Springs volunteer group is combining Earth Day and Arbor Day for the city’s biggest celebration of Mother Nature in years.
The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 22, on First Street next to the Downtown Native Plant Garden and the Art Wall in downtown Eureka Springs. Mayor Butch Berry will read a proclamation for Arbor Day, and Christopher Fischer will explain how the native plant garden has evolved over the years.
Fischer gave a sneak peak into that story this week, saying various groups in the city have taken care of the garden over the years. Fischer said he’s part of a volunteer group that has most recently taken the garden under its wing.
“What I do is facilitate the volunteers and the city and our sponsors. As a former landscape contractor, I try to figure out how we should build this thing, and our volunteers come in and help do all the work we collectively decided to do,” Fischer said. “There really isn’t a designer or coordinator. It’s very fluid and open for discussion.”
Fischer said he’s been working with Kelly Clarke of the Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalists and Glenna Booth, who works in the mayor’s office, to plan the event. Booth said she has planned the city’s Arbor Day celebration for years, a requirement for the city to remain part of the Tree City USA program.
“In the past, we’ve had a more active Tree City committee than we do now, and Chris has been on that. Chris has coordinated several other events with us,” Booth said. “I needed a partner the year, so I said, ‘Chris, how about the native plant garden?’ Then, we decided to do something for Earth Day, too, and make it a bigger event.”
Booth said past events have included planting a tree at the cemetery and organizing a program for local schools. This year, Booth said, she’s looking forward to the combined Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration. The event will feature an Eco-Info-Fair, where members of local environmental groups offer information about their mission to help the environment. These groups include Carroll County Solid Waste, Community Development Partnership, Tree City Committee, Eureka Springs Parks & Recreation Commission Springs Committee, Eureka Power & Light, Community Solar Partners and The Nature Conservancy.
“I’m looking forward to going around and gathering information from all these other groups. I think it’s going to be a nice networking opportunity. We’re hoping a lot of the public will come,” Booth said.
Clarke said 100 free native shrubs will be given away at the event. She said she’s excited to share what the master naturalists do with those who attend.
“We do a lot of trail building and building bird boxes, so it’s stuff people may not realize we’re doing,” Clarke said.
Fischer said networking among the environmental groups is an invaluable part of the event.
“They’re all really big green groups, and we’ve started to realize how our project is connected to the same agenda of getting the environment to be improved,” Fischer said.
“There’s so many resources here. I’m excited for the one-on-one and seeing who’s doing what and how you can connect … I think it’s important to start connecting in a big way,” Booth said.
Fischer said it’s especially important given the state of the environment and federal environmental agencies.
“The climate we’re in now politically and ecologically is extremely sensitive and very needy of local efforts of local people who live in their communities to step up and actually do something,” Fischer said. “I think that’s what drives us to make this event as big as it can be, so folks will know that Earth Day and Arbor Day are really every day.”
He continued, “But every once in a while, you have to get together. The idea we have is maybe we can build more programming and agendas around those concepts, not just once a year.”
The celebration is free and open to the public.