October 24, 2021

‘One day a year is not enough’

Today’s 49th annual Earth Day anniversary kicks off weeklong activities across state

Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer

Parker Roberts, a SUNY Cortland intern at Lime Hollow Nature Center, strikes the roots of a honeysuckle plant Friday. The plant is invasive and saps resources from other plants. Roberts helped organize the Earth Day Trail Clean Up event at Lime Hollow this year, which will see many more honeysuckle removed from the center.

Parker Roberts is geared up for Earth Day today and one event at Lime Hollow Nature Center later this week.

This Sunday, a community-wide event is organized to get people out and help clean up the trails at Lime Hollow.

While today marks the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, the whole week will have events across the state.

For Roberts, celebrating the Earth should happen more than once. “One day a year is not enough,” he said.

Being outdoors means something to Roberts. His freshmen year of college at SUNY Cortland saw him on the swim team. There he met one man who would become a good friend — Jack Jakubek.

Jakubek, a graduate from the college’s outdoor recreation program, was a volunteer and intern at Lime Hollow Nature Center in Cortlandville.

It was Jakubek who got Roberts thinking about the outdoors. In 2016, Jakubek drowned during a lifeguard test in Massachusetts. That summer, Roberts thought about what he wanted to do with his life and decided to switch from sports-centered career to one centered around the outdoors.

Roberts now interns at Lime Hollow and has been working closely with staff to organize this year’s trail cleanup efforts for Earth Day.

This year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a series of events scattered across the state throughout the week in celebration of Earth Day.

The idea for a national day — created in 1970 — to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the effects of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, according to the Earth Day Network.

Environmental victories since first Earth Day

• DDT, a colorless and nearly odorless insecticide used to combat mosquitoes, was banned in 1972.
• The Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act was passed in 1972 creating stricter protections for marine habitats.
• In 1980, hundreds of millions of acres were protected through the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
• Asbestos was phased out of use beginning in 1989 after evidence showed it could lead to lung cancer.
• In 1995, gray wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and Bald eagles were removed from the Endangered Species List.

SOURCE: National Geographic

Lime Hollow’s event, while separate, will continue that support of the environment on Sunday with a morning and afternoon cleanup session.

Glenn Reisweber, director of Lime Hollow, expects volunteers to aid in removing invasive plants from the trails and planting new trees throughout the grounds.

“We usually do it en masse,” he said.

Reisweber added that it’s not only at Lime Hollow where things need cleaning. People can focus on their own yards and parks.

Roberts said one plant in particular will be on the radar for removal at Lime Hollow — honeysuckle.

“It chokes out a lot of life in the forest,” he said.

During the week, today through Sunday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation will also have events to promote the environment.

SUNY Cortland also plans a Grow Your Love Earth Day Event from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. today in room G25 in the campus’ Old Main. The event will feature planting flowers and other plants in pots and decorating them.

“Earth Day is a perfect reminder to get outside and appreciate New York’s natural resources and to ensure that we’re all doing our part to protect and preserve our environment,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “I encourage all New Yorkers to participate in some of the state’s week-long activities and learn more about the programs DEC’s environmental education centers have to offer across the state.”