Earth Day is officially today, but residents can also celebrate this weekend and next weekend with local and area events.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said there will be three free events this weekend at Alum Creek State Park, 3615 S. Old State Road, Delaware. Today, from 1-4 p.m., there will be a guided 5-mile “Earth Day Nature Hike” on the Rocks to Roots Trail. Meet at the park office, and wear boots due to muddy conditions.
For those who see Earth Day more as helping Mother Nature, there will be a “Beach Cleanup” at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alum Creek State Park Beach. “Gloves and trash bags will be provided,” ODNR said.
Then at 2 p.m. on Sunday, youth will be given seeds they can plant in a small pot they can take home.
Also on Saturday, the Green Columbus Earth Day Celebration will take place from noon to 7 p.m. at Genoa Park in downtown Columbus. The free event includes a family bike ride, local bands, giveaways, health screenings, street food vendors and a beer garden. The Experience Columbus booth will provide information about the Columbus Outdoor Trails Pass, a collaboration with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.
The idea behind the GPS-enabled Trails Pass is individuals check in at an outdoor site with the virtual passport to be entered for monthly $100 gift cards to Columbus businesses and restaurants chosen by random draw. Two of the trails are near the Earth Day Celebration site: the Scioto Trail that goes along Genoa and Bicentennial parks with views of the Scioto Mile; and the Olentangy Trail that goes along the river and the popular Olentangy Parklands in Worthington.
There are a total of 22 different outdoor venues that use the Columbus Outdoor Trails Pass. Closer to home is the Hoover Scenic Trail near Galena, which goes along Hoover Nature Preserve and the shore of Hoover Reservoir, connecting south to the Genoa Trail and Char-Mar Ridge Preserve and further down to Westerville.
Other venues include the Emerald Trail at Indian Run Falls Park in Dublin; the Big Walnut Trail in Gahanna and Whitehall; and the Alum Creek Trail at three sites: Heritage Park in Westerville, Wolfe Park in Columbus, and Three Creeks Metro Park in Groveport.
Trail enthusiasts will cheer this next piece of information. On Thursday, the Delaware County Trail Committee announced it is accepting applications until June 17 for grants from the 2022 Trail Assistance Program. The Delaware County Commissioners, working with the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission, said in a news release that it annually provides $100,000 “for local cities, villages, townships, park districts and non-profit organizations to build, maintain and improve multi-use trails.”
Another family activity is the City Nature Challenge Central Ohio from April 29 to May 2. The website Earth Day Columbus describes it as “part of a worldwide bio-blitz encouraging everyone to get outside, identify flora and fauna within Franklin and Delaware County. Get involved with Columbus by doing community science! To learn more visit https://citynaturechallenge.org/.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.