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Help make Aspen a little greener this weekend

Jeremy Heiman

“Earth Day and Arbor Day in May!” is the official title of a celebration planned Saturday at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

The day will include events and displays that ACES’ Earth Day celebrations have featured in past years, and more. This year, the Herron Park cleanup, face painting booth and alternative energy displays will be joined by a trash cleanup along the banks of the Roaring Fork River and along the Rio Grande Trail from the Slaughterhouse Bridge to ACES.

And Aspen’s annual Arbor Day event has been folded in with Earth Day this year to create an even bigger celebration (see story below). ACES is holding its Earth Day celebration in mid-May this year because past events on its regular late-April date were often buried under snow. In addition, the Arbor Day observance has been moved back from its nationally recognized April 28 date.

“The biggie this year is that four branches of city government are jumping in with sponsorship,” said Dale Abrams, education director for ACES. Aspen’s Environmental Health Department, the Natural Resources Program, the trails program and Transportation Options Program will all participate in the day’s events.

The city’s annual Arbor Day tree giveaway will take place at ACES at 1:30 p.m., after the morning cleanup events are over.

“Arbor Day is a benefit to both our missions,” Abrams said. Parents who involve their children in the process of planting a tree are furthering the cause of environmental education, he said.

“What we’re really excited about this year is partnering with ACES,” said Stephen Ellsperman, Aspen’s city forester.

As usual, ACES’ Earth Day celebration will be packed with events and displays for adults and children.

Volunteers are needed for litter pickup projects. Parents and little kids should meet at Herron Park at 10:30 a.m. for the family parade and litter cleanup, which will be accompanied by Woodsy Owl, Smokey Bear and Max the Moose.

Adults interested in the second litter pickup, starting at the Slaughterhouse Bridge and heading back toward ACES, should meet at the Rio Grande parking garage at 10:15 a.m. to catch a free shuttle bus to Slaughterhouse Bridge. Crews will begin walking the river and trail to pick up trash at 10:30 a.m. Participants will be allowed to park free at the parking garage.

Both cleanup groups will walk from their starting points to ACES’ Hallam Lake compound.

Those who volunteer for the litter cleanup events should be prepared for changing spring weather. Sun protection and rain gear are recommended.

Members of the Roaring Fork Conservancy and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers will organize the trash pickup and will give safety instructions. Perhaps the biggest threats, Abrams warned, are ticks and sunburn.

The city of Aspen’s electric-powered pickup truck will be used to bring bags of litter to ACES, where people from Pitkin County Recycling will separate out the recyclable materials.

At 11:30 a.m., after the litter pickups, booths and displays will be open at ACES. Attractions for kids will be right at ACES, and displays for grownups will be along Puppy Smith Street, near the Rio Grande Trail connection, Abrams said. Displays will include:

n The Community Office for Resource Efficiency will have a display on solar and wind energy. Kids can build models of wind generators.

n ACES teachers will show kids how to use a kitchen blender to form old paper products into new paper.

n Valley Resource Management will be demonstrating an earthworm-powered composting system that can be used indoors. The group’s display will include different kinds of composting systems. VRM is a partnership of local governments set up to coordinate regional solid-waste management and recycling.

n A booth operated by Aspen Solar Systems will feature “solar smoothies.” Aspen Solar’s photovoltaic panels will produce the energy needed to power a blender used to produce the fruit drinks.

Other favorite Earth Day booths will be back, Abrams said. The face-painting and storytelling booths will be there, and refreshments will be available. Food is donated by local businesses, including Clark’s Market, City Market, Paradise Bakery and Bagel Bites.

Pitkin County Recycling, the Aspen Environmental Ranger Program, Pitkin County Weed Management, Snowmass Animal Control and the Colorado Division of Wildlife will also be among the exhibitors.

For more information, call Abrams at ACES, 925-5756.


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