Earth Day event promotes water management, eco-friendly habits

April 5, 2012

By Christina Lords

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The third annual Newcastle Earth Day will play host to some highly anticipated and somewhat unusual guests this year — and they’re not even human.

With the help of Rent-a-Ruminant LLC, 15 goats will make their way from Vashon Island to their Newcastle debut to prove that getting rid of invasive plant species need not be harmful to the environment or be backbreaking work.

“People might not realize it, but the goats are a good alternative to herbicides and manual labor,” said Grace Stiller, Newcastle Earth Day event chairwoman. “Instead of having to clear all of that debris of the blackberries, you have to the goats do it for you.”

The city of Newcastle, the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and the Newcastle Weed Warriors will provide speakers, seminars and activities for Earth Day 2012 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 21 at Lake Boren Park.

This year’s event will focus on responsible storm water management.

“This event celebrates our community’s love for the environment,” Stiller said.

The family-friendly event features interactive displays, music, children’s events, mini-seminars, electric cars, recycling for metal and electrical appliances, and, of course, the blackberry-munching goats.

More than 30 booths featuring green products and services by nonprofit environmental organizations and businesses will also be on hand at the free event.

This year’s Earth Day includes geocaching — the real-world treasure hunting game where players search for hidden containers using GPS devices — and the interactive “Science in the Environment” display from the Pacific Science Center.  The display will be hosted by center staff and will consist of 10 tables of activities for children and adults alike, Stiller said.

“This kind of environmental education and outreach enables community members to give back to each other and the community,” she said.

Stiller said the celebration will enable the city, chamber, local businesses and individuals to explore and implement sustainable, environmentally friendly and ecologically renewable practices together.

The Hazen High School Booster Club will host its first plant sale featuring bedding annuals, native plants, serviceberries, crabapples, herbs, vegetables and hanging baskets to benefit the Hazen Overnight Senior Graduation event and Baccalaureate program.

“It’s a nice way to keep the kids in a fun atmosphere for the event where they’re safe and chaperoned in a drug- and alcohol-free environment,” Tammy Coburn, booster club member, said.

The group aims to make the plant sale a feature of Earth Day every year.

Attendees may also place an order for plants at Earth Day and pick them up at Hazen on May 3. Email hazensge2012@gmail.com for information and an order form.

The Boeing Employees Concert Band and the Gifted Program Rock Band, as well as bands from local high schools, will provide musical entertainment.

Food will be available for purchase from several vendors.

On the Web

Go to www.newcastleweedwarriors.org and click on the ‘Earth Day 2012’ link to see a schedule of events and event sponsors, or go to the Newcastle Earth Day Facebook page.

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