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OPINION | FRAN ALEXANDER: Earth Day brings opportunities to make a difference

April marks focus on ways to help planet by Fran Alexander | March 29, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

The "start fresh" feeling that spring brings us each year is not completely due to flowers blooming and birds singing. Sometimes we have to do some of the freshening ourselves by airing out our living spaces, sorting through winter accumulations, resurrecting landscaping and even tidying up our town. Once done, life does feel lighter, cleaner and as colorfully rewarding as the season.

In April, we honor Earth Day on the 22nd. Around the nation, communities use the observance to bring awareness to environmental needs, to educate people about ways they can minimize their harmful impacts on their world and to adopt practices that can have a beneficial effect.

I can't mention them all. In my hometown, Fayetteville, the month is bursting with spring cleaning actions. It's a great example of a community working day in and day out to reduce waste and to make sure the waste it generates does the least damage.

Many of us anticipate the city's Bulky Waste Clean-up days for big stuff that just won't fit in trash cans, or for electronics (E-Waste) that have quit working or lost their dazzle. From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. each clean-up day, items can either be taken to the Recycling and Trash Collection Facility at 1560 S. Happy Hollow Road in Fayetteville or to ward-specific drop-offs.

The Ward 4 day is April 2, Ward l is April 9, Ward 3 is April 23 and Ward 2 is May 14. Find the additional locations in each ward at https://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/743/Bulky-Waste. This service, free just twice a year, is for Fayetteville residents only. Please, however, only discard items that are absolutely beyond reuse or repair.

For decades, the city has sought ways to limit what fills up the landfill. Since food waste is 18% of that load, a new drop-off program for acceptable items has begun for both commercial and residential food waste. The drop-off locations are listed on the city's website at https://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/3845/Food-Waste-Compostables-Drop-Off. I recommend calling recycling educator, Heather Ellzey, at (479) 718-7687 for specifics as well as how and where to get a free food compost bucket this month.

From 9:30 to noon April 16, the city, the Lake Fayetteville Watershed Partnership and the Illinois River Watershed Partnership need volunteers for cleanup of trails, shoreline, etc. Meet at the Environmental Study Center, 511 E. Lakeview Dr. (Springdale).

The Citywide Earth Day Clean-up kick-off is from 9 a.m. to noon April 23 starting with Mayor Jordan's Earth Day proclamation at the Marion Orton Recycling Center, 755 W. North St. Volunteers' destinations from there will focus on streams, streets, parks, trails, etc., so bring gloves and come dressed to work. Sign-up by emailing [email protected] or call (479) 444-3467 for information. For all you newcomers to this area, volunteering is a great way to meet people and to find out what we do around here to keep Northwest Arkansas a decent place to live.

Another ambitious local goal is conquering invasive plant species by ripping, chopping, lopping, hoeing, yanking and digging. The town is choking in bush honeysuckle and Callery (commonly called Bradford) pear trees that have escaped planted landscapes. Right now is the best time to identify these trees and cut them down. Oh sure, they're beautifully blooming now, but very soon those white flower clumps will become half-inch bird bombs spreading seeds. Our roadsides, fields and forest edges are covered in this non-native, thorny, stinky, invasive menace.

Bradford pears, bush honeysuckle, privet, Tree of Heaven and other invasives steal space, sun, water, nutrients and soil from the native plants, which are ecologically correct for this region's birds and other wildlife. Plant identification pictures are online and a video of how to attack these invaders is at www.fayetteville-ar.gov/3028/Invasive-Plants-and-Native-Alternatives. From April 5-15, there's a bounty on these particular four species. By emailing a picture of the cut invasive on your property to [email protected], your reward will be one replacement native tree or shrub.

Throughout April, the city's Urban Forestry Department is joining forces with various organizations for invasive plant pulls at Kessler Mountain Park, Woolsey Farmstead, Clarence Craft Park, Gregory Park and Mount Sequoyah Woods. Contact John Scott at (479) 444-3470 for dates and information.

A tree give-away to honor the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 22 in Wilson Park. The city will also give away 100 seedlings from noon to 5 p.m. April 24 at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks on Crossover Road (Highway 265).

With all these activities, along with litter collections, school programs, and even a cigarette butt sweep-up, it's obvious we can all pitch in somehow to clean up our town.

Happy Earth Day!

Print Headline: Earthly endeavours

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