Projects planned for Earth Month

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMarch 21, 2013 

Show your respect for Mother Nature on Saturday by volunteering to help with several Earth Hour and Earth Month events.

Two groups are organizing cleanup and planting projects. There will be a night hike in the Chamna Natural Preserve and an acoustic music jam session by candlelight.

And if you notice fewer lights burning on Saturday evening, don't worry. It's a deliberate power outage. Your friends, municipalities and businesses are observing Earth Hour, a global event organized by the World Wildlife Fund.

Earth Hour celebrates the Earth, nature and environment by urging people and businesses to turn off their lights, electric appliances and electronics for an hour.

"An hour doesn't sound like much but it helps raise awareness of where our energy is going and what we can do to conserve it," said Gail Everett, Richland's environmental education coordinator.

In the Mid-Columbia, Earth Hour will be observed from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Find out more at www.earthmonthmc.org. The national website is www.earthhour.org.

One highly visible structure -- the cable bridge -- will go noticeably dim at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

"The Department of Transportation has agreed to turn off the decorative lights, not the safety and street lights, and they'll stay off until the next evening. These are the ones highlighting the cables," said Everett.

"They go off at 2 a.m. every day anyway but this is something very visual. If the Eiffel Tower can do it, so can the cable bridge," she said.

Lights at TRAC center off Road 68 in Pasco and the huge readerboard by the highway also will go dark at 8:30 p.m. and stay off for an hour.

"It'll be all the lights, everything we can get to, and the readerboard too," said Troy Woody, general manager at TRAC. "It's a small gesture. Something to show we're trying to do the right thing."

Even if businesses can't go dark, Everett is urging them to encourage employees to turn off home computers, unplug TVs, do whatever they can to power down their homes.

"It's easy to find the power drains, all you have to do is turn off the lights -- carry a flashlight for safety -- and look around. Any power light you see, like the one on your DVD clock or the electric blanket, means it's using power even if it's not turned on," Everett said.

She's not asking people to sit in the dark though.

"It's like the times the power goes out and at first you're afraid but then the candles come out and you have so much fun you're disappointed when the lights come back on. This is just like those times," Everett said.

Some activities suggested on the Earth Hour and Earth Month website include holding a family picnic by candlelight or going outside to stargaze. Or give everyone a flashlight and play flash tag inside or out.

"And what kid doesn't like to make a fort out of blankets and chairs and play camping," she asked.

Or, use the time to plan a family project for Earth Month. There are dozens of ideas on the website.

Here are the events scheduled for Saturday:

Take a hike

Volunteers from the Tapteal Greenway Association will lead a flashlight hike in Chamna Natural Preserve in south Richland. For directions go to www.tapteal.org. Park in the west lot. The hike begins at 8:15 p.m. and returns about 10 p.m. Sign up by calling Scott Woodward, 627-3621, or sending an email to woodfish24@charter.net.

Acoustic music by candlelight

Join an acoustic music jam session at the Crow's Nest at Clover Island Inn in Kennewick. Take an instrument -- your voice counts as one -- at 8 p.m. This is a family-friendly event.

Garden project

Volunteers from the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society and Washington State University Extension Master Gardeners are organizing a work party at the Demonstration Garden, 1620 S. Union St., Kennewick. They will be working from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and can use more help. For more information, call Heather Wendt at 509-430-3693.

Planting purple hearts

Help plant purple heart sage plants at the Richland Wye Park off Columbia Park Trail from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will prep the site, lay down landscape fabric and plant. Take shovels, rakes, work gloves and snacks. Call Ernie Crediford at 509-460-9057.

w Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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