August 9, 2020

Happy Earth Day! Old Lyme Open Space Co-Chair Suggests, “Go Outdoors, Reflect On Everything We Have”

OLD LYME — Fifty years ago on April 22, 1970, Denis Hayes, a Harvard graduate student and Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), joined by Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-CA), organized the first Earth Day.

“They were there with raised hands,” said Amanda Blair, Co-Chair of the Old Lyme Open Space Commission, adding sadly, “We’re here with hands in prayer.” She continued in a phone interview with yesterday, “I think of all that energy back then [that went into organizing the inaugural Earth Day] and wonder what they’d think about where we are now.”

That initial celebration inspired an estimated 20 million Americans — at the time, 10 percent of the total population of the United States — to attend rallies and other events coast-to-coast.

In following years, America saw the Clean Air Act strengthened and the creation of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Asked what the message of Earth Day 2020 is for the residents of Old Lyme, Blair responded, “The virus has shut us down, but that gives people an opportunity to walk our trails and take time to reflect on everything we have … and really appreciate it.”

She said, “It’s also a reminder that ‘Every Day is Earth Day.’ We all need to do what we can to keep our planet’s environment safe, now and for our children’s future.” Blair notes that walkers and hikers can help the environment on any day — not just Earth Day — by taking a bag with them to pick up litter and she urges folk walking their dogs always to clear up after their four-legged-friends.

Blair mentioned that a third trail will be opened in the next few months on the recently-acquired McCulloch property.  She said she has been “blazing the trail” with three students from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in the past few weeks and together they, “have seen and heard so much.” Commenting that the students had been “wonderful,” she noted, “When you’re clearing a trail, you take time to stop, pause and look,” saying they had seen salamanders in vernal pools, new growth everywhere, and listened to the sound of peepers.

In celebration of Earth Day, the Old Lyme Open Space Commission encourages everyone to go outdoors and enjoy the Spring’s fresh air, flower blossoms and nature’s renewal, but Blair stresses, “Please remember to observe Governor Lamont’s executive order to wear a cloth face covering if you cannot maintain a distance of at least six feet from everyone.”

Commenting that the Commission’s planned activities for the spring and summer have all been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blair said she hoped the Hiker Happy Hours planned for the fall might yet be held.  “They are such fun and take place at the best time of the day.”

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has tips for Earth Day and every day on its website.

Great walks throughout Old Lyme may be found on the Old Lyme Open Space Commission’s website and the Old Lyme Land Trust’s website.


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