Earth Day is good time for outdoor enthusiasts to reflect, act

With apologies to the talking camel in the car insurance TV commercial who celebrates Wednesdays by shouting "It's Hump Daaay": on Tuesday, "It's Earth Daaay."

We celebrate our big blue marble of a planet Tuesday and throughout the week with a variety of conservation and environmental clean-up events that will help some areas of our region become a bit more pristine.

Man has the ability to ravage the environment, but also the intellect and ability to help restore it.

The Lehigh River, thought to be ecologically dead in the early 1970s, is vibrant, thriving and alive with all forms of macro-invertebrate life and fish. The Susquehanna River where I grew up in Luzerne County, once full of mine acid and sewage, now boasts a thriving bass population.

In advance of this week, volunteer crews were out on some local secondary highways doing garbage bag clean-ups of stuff that litterbugs carelessly tossed from car windows as they drive along our roads.

If you're going on a hike this weekend, think about taking an extra plastic shopping bag or two, or even a small garbage bag with you to pick up some of the litter that's been discarded along our scenic outdoor trails.

On Saturday, my daughter Marissa, her boyfriend and I walked our English springer spaniels along the D&L Trail north of the Treichler's Bridge and noticed very little trash. By Sunday when we went out with my wife, discarded soda bottles and food wrappers had been thrown into various places along the woods, along the trail side, and even plastic food containers were dropped along the trail.

If you have space in your daypack for whatever you are carrying onto the trail like bottles or cans of drinks and packed food, then you have space to take it out so that you can place the garbage in appropriate trash containers that are located at the trailheads.

Discarding trash into nature may result in fines if you are caught, and you'd be surprised how many people leave traceable receipts or letterhead with some of the garbage they have dumped. These people are ruining the environment not only with the trash they discard, but because that trash can draw vermin that are not necessarily living in that area, which can create a whole different set of problems.

If you're going to use the trails, as the saying goes, please leave only footprints. Take your trash with you and discard it properly.

In honor of Earth Day, you may want to celebrate with a walk or hike in some of our local parks and state parks. Just remember that how we treat the environment now makes an impact on the environment for future generations.

Shad contest time: There is no more Shad Festival in Easton, but there is a shad tournament. The fourth annual Bi-State Shad Fishing Contest has expanded from one day to four days and will run Saturday, April 26, through Tuesday, April 29.

Entry fee for the contest is $30 with a deadline for entry at midnight Tuesday. Go online to http://www.shadfishingcontest.com or call 610-762-0440.

Leaser Lake trail hike: Explore Leaser Lake's revival 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with a four-mile hike around the Leaser Lake Loop Trail. Participants should show up at the North Parking Lot, 7858 Ontelaunee Road, Kempton by 5:30 p.m.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, help with trail maintenance and repair of the loop by again meeting at the North Parking Lot. Volunteers who show up are asked to bring pruning shears, rakes, shovels and other landscaping tools. Check the website (www.leaserlakeheritage.org) on the day-of if the weather is questionable.

Falcon Cam: Three of the four falcon eggs at the Peregrine falcon nest on the Rachel Carson Building, 400 Market St. in Harrisburg, have hatched. The latest hatch took place on Easter Sunday. The fourth egg was laid on March 19.

To check out the live web cam monitoring the nest, go online to http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/falcon/default.htm.

Family fishing festival set for May 10: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is holding Family Fishing Festivals in the six regions of the state.

The Southeast Region, which includes most of the Lehigh Valley, will hold its Family Fishing Festival Saturday, May 10, at Lake Nockamixon near Quakertown.

The festivals are designed to introduce or re-introduce fishing to families. Basic fishing skills are taught on loaner equipment. The fishing license requirement for that day is waived for registered participants 16 and older who take part in the event.

"Through the events, former and new anglers can try fishing at no cost," PFBC Executive Director John Arway said in a statement. "We know that once people try it, particularly kids, they will see that fishing is a great recreational activity and they will want to do it more."

To register, go online to http://www.GoneFishingPA.com and click on the Family Fishing icon.

gary.blockus@mcall.com

Twitter @gblockus

610-820-6782

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