Earth Day, Earth Week, Earth Month in Pagosa!

This year — more than ever before — Pagosa will be celebrating Earth Day; and how!

A bevy of events has been planned, for kids, for adults, for families, for pets, for everyone. SUN readers will be seeing a lot more information about Earth Day events later in the month, as Earth Week and Earth Day draw nearer, but we thought it would be a good idea to compile as many activities as possible all in one story, at the beginning of the month, so that Pagosans can make plans now to attend as many of these festivities as possible. Events throughout the month are sure to whet Pagosans’ appetites for learning about and appreciating the natural world, which is good, because participants will need a big appetite to take in the more than 15 free workshops that the Southwest Organization for Sustainability will host for adults and kids on April 25 at the community center.

Back-to-Basics Gardening classes throughout April will provide an ongoing opportunity to celebrate the earth (read: dirt) in your own backyard. The Colorado State University Extension Office, with the help of talented master gardeners like Chrissy Karas, will conduct a series of three, one-hour basic gardening classes on April 9, 16 and 23. Please R.S.V.P. For more information or to R.S.V.P., contact the Extension Office at 264-5931.

Also on April 16, SUN readers will have a chance to sink their feet into some earth we’ve been hearing about for quite some time. A ribbon cutting on the land allocated for the community greenhouse project will be held at noon. The town has granted land on the downstream end of Centennial Park for the building of three to five geodesic dome greenhouses, heated and powered by geothermal and solar resources. Among many other benefits to the environment and to the community, the geothermal greenhouse project will showcase the alternative energy resources of our community and the viability of putting those resources to commercial use, provide a local source of fresh, organic produce to local businesses and residents, provide an educational resource for regional schools and adult groups on topics of alternative energy, renewable resources and organic permaculture, and much more. For more information about the greenhouse project, contact the Southwest Land Alliance at 264-7779.

On April 18, from 10 a.m. to noon at Treasure Mountain Educational Cooperative, the Pagosa Waldorf Initiative will sponsor the planting of a “fedge” (a food-hedge). With the expertise of master gardeners, children will plant an edible hedge around the perimeter of the play yard. All the trees and shrubs are native plants well suited for the region and, of course, delicious! Children will plant native plum trees, wax currants, buffalo berries and Nanking cherries. Children, together with their parents, will learn proper planting techniques and care for newly-planted trees and bushes. All children participating will have the opportunity to take home a tree to plant in their own yard and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Participants are asked to arrive promptly at 10 a.m. to enjoy this fun, informative and delicious experience. To find Treasure Mountain Education Cooperative travel three miles west on U.S. 160 past the light at North Pagosa Boulevard. Turn left on CR 139. Follow 139 for one mile (past Astraddle-a-Saddle). Look for a green farmhouse on the right. For more information contact Blue Lindner at 946-1877, or via e-mail at blue@sonrisasspanishschool.com.

Considering all the events offered on April 19, there is sure to be something for everyone. The Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS) will host a Clothing Swap of women and children’s clothing from 1:30-4 p.m. at Libby’s in Quaking Aspen Photo Gallery downtown. Bring clothing to swap. For more information, contact SOS at 946-9024.

Additionally, on Sunday, April 19, from 2-5 p.m., local tracker and educator Jason Stuck will teach a class called “Tracking: The Language of Nature.” Stuck will lead an exploration of animal signs and discuss the art of tracking at the Hershey Four Mile Ranch.  Advance registration is required and limited to 15 people. For more information or to register, call Stuck at 731-9982. He will also teach a shorter, classroom session on tracking at the SOS Earth Day workshop day on April 25. Stuck’s presentation will begin at 9 a.m. that day in Room 2 at the community center. He will teach about the way tracking entails developing a close and intimate relationship with nature.

On April 19 as well, Margaret Burkesmith will host a workday at Pagosa’s first community garden, located on the River Walk at Centennial Park. Plots at the garden are available now and are free. Work together to build a fence and compost bin for the garden from 3-6 p.m. For more information, call Burkesmith at 264-2143 or e-mail her at margaretburkesmith@hotmail.com.

On Wednesday, April 22, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., “Celebrate Birds” with John Bregar of the Durango Bird Club. Bregar will lead a birding outing to celebrate Earth Day at the Hershey Four Mile Ranch, sponsored by Colorado Audubon. For more information, or to register (participation will be limited to 25 people), contact Becky Gillete at rgillette@audubon.org.

Kids in third to sixth grades will be excited about an Earth Day event planned for April 24 at the Ruby Sisson Library. Gretchen Lamar from Durango Nature Studies will help kids to “Learn to Enjoy Wild Creatures In Your Back Yard.” The presentation will run from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m. To reserve space, call 264-2208.

Also on April 24, the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will host a DVD lecture given by Van Jones. Come for the film and discussion at 6:30 p.m. at the UU Fellowship, located on Greenbriar, near North Pagosa and Park Avenue. Van Jones is the author of “The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems.” He is also an eco-justice activist who leads the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, Calif. He is founder of Color Of Change, the nation’s biggest e-advocacy organization creating a “Green Jobs Corps” that will train youth for eco-friendly “green-collar” jobs. Van Jones was named “Top Eco-entrepreneur of the Year” for 2008.

And, finally, on April 25, to culminate the momentous month of events in honor of the Earth, SOS will host a morning of workshops for young and old at the community center.

Susan Halabrin of the Weminuche Audubon Society will present a slideshow, “Birds of Archuleta County,” about our local birds.

Jason Stuck will present “The Language of Nature and the Art of Tracking” about how to interpret animal signs to learn about nature and wildlife.

Growing Spaces, with Udgar Parsons and Richard Miller, will host “Year-round Gardening in the Rocky Mountains.”

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) will provide a presentation, including the 20-minute showing of the new documentary “The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?” This will be followed by a discussion and then a presentation of water conservation practices and tips, including an overview of the PAWSD Water Conservation Program and services.

Workshops for kids on the 25th promise to please: First, The Pagosa Waldorf Initiative will offer a puppet show for children ages 3-7.  A charming tale of a tree and all the lives it shares as it grows in the forest will be presented at 9 a.m.  

Beginning at 9:45, personnel from the Pagosa Ranger District will offer a “Trees” program to teach kids about the role and importance of forests in nature. It is a USDA Forest Service initiative to support environmental education and to get “More Kids in the Woods.”  For more information on the USDA Forest Service’s emphasis, Kids in the Woods, visit www.fs.fed.us/emphasis/kids.html. For more information about this local celebration, contact Beth Jones at the Pagosa Ranger District at (970) 264-1501.

Then, the Audubon Colorado will present “Animal Detectives” from 10:30-11:15.  Children ages 7 and up are invited to put on their detective hats to decipher animal tracks and other signs, and learn more about local mammals, birds and their habitats.  Audubon Colorado directs the Hershey Environmental Education Program for Pagosa Springs Elementary School. It provides public education and conservation opportunities, participates in local bird and habitat research projects, and works in partnership with the Pagosa-based Weminuche Audubon Society.  For more information, contact Southwest Regional Director Becky Gillette at (970) 883-3066 or rgillette@audubon.org.

Additionally for youngsters, Aikido of the San Juans will sponsor a kids’ aikido workshop from 11:15 to noon.  Ages 5 and up are welcome.  They will get participants on their feet to learn some basic aikido movements, and will form a big spiraling, flowing (laughing) circle.  

Whew! If that seems like a whole lot of events, it’s because it is. And, in a time of more environmental uncertainties and challenges than humankind has ever before seen, it would seem that the more we can learn, discuss and do about the environment the better.