From Junk Jams to Dog Poo Cleanups, Vermont Marks Earth Day

Many Vermonters paused on Earth Day to reflect on their impacts on the planet. The state is home to a lot of people who aim to make every day Earth Day.

In Montpelier, Donald Knaack, a Manchester percussionist known as "The Junkman," set up shop and used Google Hangouts to connect online with schools in Keene, New Hampshire, Philadelphia and New York City.

The different sites jammed together using the group video calling service, and all together, shared rhythms by banging on old hubcaps, ice trays, and more. "It's about awareness," Knaack told New England Cable News.

Knaack said he wants people to pause and closely examine what they're throwing away. Before something clogs a landfill, is there still usefulness left in it?

"If I can pull one person in to the idea of making some kind of change in their life as far as giving us a better environment, that's what this is all about," Knaack explained. "We've come a long way. We've got a long way to go, but we've come a long way."

More on Knaack and his "Junk Music" is available on his website.

In Williston, Mike Ingalls from the Burlington non-profit Intervale Center was leading a team planting small shrubs. They were working with a farmer who wanted to establish a buffer zone of shrubs and trees, so he could block silt and manure from running into a creek.

"It's the right thing to do," Ingalls said of planting trees and shrubs. "Planting trees is not for now; it's for the future. We're not necessarily going to see the results from what we're doing today, but I know 15 years, 20 years down the road, that [we] will."

The Intervale Center’s conservation nursery will plant more than 20,000 trees this year at sites around Vermont, Ingalls said. He explained the trees and shrubs are started without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and are offered at low prices to individuals and organizations that want to create habitats and protect waterways.

The Intervale Center’s partners in the Williston planting project necn visited Wednesday included the land owner, the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Vermont Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Intervale Center said.

For more information on the Intervale Center and the group’s efforts to strengthen farm viability and community food systems, visit this website.

In Burlington, volunteers with the Lake Champlain Committee spent part of Earth Day picking up what other people’s dogs left behind in Oakledge Park. The group fears that bacteria from pet waste could foul Lake Champlain, and nutrients in it could feed water weeds and algae.

"It's pretty lethal for our waterways," said Lori Fisher, the executive director of the Lake Champlain Committee. "We're basically saying to pet owners, 'If you've got a pet, do your duty: pick up after them,'" Fisher said.

The Lake Champlain Committee has other "April Stools’ Day" cleanup events planned this weekend. For more information on those efforts in Williston, Bristol, and St. Albans, visit this website.

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