Orange County hosted a variety of events on or around April 22 to observe Earth Day.
“Collectively and as individuals, we are responsible to do all we can to protect our environment and be good stewards of the earth,” County Executive Steven Neuhaus said in a released statement.
Neuhaus briefed the county legislature on the Sustainable Orange initiative which certifies the county as a Climate Smart Community, the only county recognized as such in the state. Climate Smart Communities are a network of New York communities engaged in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving climate resilience.
Neuhaus has joined with the legislature, announced in statement on April 21, to form the Green Building Committee. The committee of legislators and senior staff looks at county policies and building projects that promotes environmentally-friendly structures.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) looks at the way buildings are designed and constructed and certifies structures through LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
The county executive also released an A grade for air quality for the county by the American Lung Association.
Earth Day Activities
Earth Day was recognized throughout the weekend. The “Trails for People” exhibit opened at Bear Mountain State Park.
On the park website, the exhibit was noted as a “new outdoor learning and activity area as a gateway to the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain State Park. It is the first known interactive, on-trail exhibit in the United States dedicated to the art and science of trail building.”
In Warwick, people participated in the Wickham Lake Earth Day Paddle. The Wickham Lake Facebook page noted damp, chilly winds greeted paddlers but said painted turtles “were out in cold, sleepy force and the osprey treated us to a quick visit on its northward journey.”
The day after Earth Day had a community cleanup along the Hudson in Newburgh, a litter cleanup in Port Jervis, tree planting at the Neversink Preserve in Godeffroy, and tree planting along the Neversink River sponsored by the Nature Conservancy.
On April 30 a Hike-A-Thon took place at the Outdoor Discovery Center at Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, Cornwall. The museum website lists other family activities in the Green Zone—nature play in Grasshopper Grove, interactive games, and hay rides.
Local artists in Warwick put on Treecycle. The Town of Warwick has been awarded Tree City, USA status. Kids and adults created sculptural trees using upcycled material.
State officials recognized the day by supporting efforts to protect the environment. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “From protecting air and water quality, to reducing our carbon footprint, we are moving towards a healthier and more sustainable environment for all.”
Carl Heastie, Speaker of the State Assembly, said the state budget supported environmental funding. “The recently enacted 2016-17 state budget,” Heastie said in a statement, “provided a historic $300 million investment in the Environmental Protection Fund and took important steps to ensure the quality and safety of New York’s water supply and infrastructure.”
Earth Day began in 1970 by former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, who was appalled by the devastation made by an oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. The day was a major force in launching the environmental movement in the U.S.
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