You can get hands-on — and even hands dirty — at Earth Day events taking place over the next two weeks in the Fort Wayne area.
Earth Day officially is observed April 22.
One of the most ambitious local projects will be Save Maumee Grassroots Organization's event 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, during which volunteers will plant 380 trees along the Maumee River near the 800 block of Glasgow Street, said Abigail King, the organization's founder and current vice president.
The area is part of the Bullerman Ditch drainage system, one of three local ditch systems considered among the most degraded of all subwatersheds in the Maumee River watershed, King said. The other two are Trier Ditch in southeast Fort Wayne and Sixmile Creek north of New Haven.
"The whole point is we are going to make these ditches streams again," King said.
In addition to restoring natural vegetation, the 14 varieties of trees planted Sunday will improve water quality in the Maumee River and also reduce flooding, she said.
Based on scientific research, the 380 trees along the Maumee River near Bullerman Ditch are expected to:
*Absorb 22,420 gallons of water a year.
* Remove 320 pounds of nitrogen and 190 pounds of phosphorus a year.
* Reduce sediment in the river by 190 tons per year.
Sediment carries pollutants, so filtering out soil particles before they reach the river will have significant impact, she said.
In addition, to prepare for Sunday's tree-planting, volunteers also have removed 800 Asian honeysuckle bushes from the site, King said. The invasive species crowds out native plants.
Save Maumee intends to plant trees along Sixmile Creek later this year and to tackle Trier Ditch in 2017, King said. When all three ditch projects have been completed, the work will have added 1,390 trees to the landscape.
All of the trees are potted, so they have to be planted carefully rather than quickly, King said. The money for the trees comes from a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant through the U.S. Forest Service.
People interested in helping should wear a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, boots and gloves. Save Maumee will have some shovels available, but people are welcome to bring their own.
Food Not Bombs will provide food, but King recommends people bring their own refillable water bottle.
You also can plant native plants and enjoy other activities during the Earth Day Fort Wayne celebration 1-5 p.m. April 24 at Eagle Marsh, 6801 Engle Road. Admission is free.
People will be invited to plant milkweed, cardinal flower, gentian and other native wildflowers, said Betsy Yankowiak, director of programs and preserves for Little River Wetlands Project, which manages Eagle Marsh.
Engle Road will be closed down in front of the marsh so activity, educational and organization booths and a farmers market can be set up, Yankowiak said. Experts will speak on pollinators, native plant gardening, and amphibians and reptiles of this area.
Visitors can vote for a People's Choice Award winner from among rain barrels decorated by school and scout groups, she said. The rain barrels also will be part of the event's silent auction.
"It's just a really great, family fun activity," she said.
More InformationEarth Day events
These are some of the Earth Day-related events taking place in the Fort Wayne area:
Save Maumee Grassroots Organization tree planting, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., along the Maumee River in the 800 block of Glasgow Avenue. Dress for working outdoors.
* David Radcliff will speak on "You're getting warmer. ... Searching for causes and cures in a rapidly warming world," 7 p.m., Achatz Hall, Gunderson Lecture Hall, University of Saint Francis, 2701 Spring St. Radcliff is director of the New Community Project of Peoria, Ariz., a faith-based nonprofit organization that works for environmental sustainability, global justice, intergenerational learning tours to many nations, and empowering youth and young adults.
* 3Rivers Credit Union will offer a free Shred Day 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the rear parking lot of its branch at 1615 Northland Ave., across from Crazy Pinz. There is a five-box limit on what can be shredded.
* Earth Day Tree Planting Workshop, by Mark Ringenberg of Hoosier ReLeaf, noon-2 p.m., north side of Trinity Hall at University of Saint Francis, 2701 Spring St. Help plant 20 trees or just learn how to do it.
* Earth Day at Metea County Park, 6-8:30 p.m., at the park, 8401 Union Chapel Road. Free admission. Activities will provide information about soil, watersheds, water quality, wildlife, recycling/re-use, and Earth conservation. A night hike will be offered at 8:30 p.m. for the first 50 people to register by calling 449-3777. Hike cost is $3 per person, but ages 6 and younger are free.
* Sweetwater Sound will host a free guitar string recycling event for old and used guitar strings 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at its campus, 5501 U.S. 30 W. Electric or acoustic guitars will be restrung with new strings provided by D’Addario. Musicians interested in recycling through Playback can visit http://www.daddario.com/playback. For more information, call 432-8176.
* Little River Wetlands Project hosts Earth Day Fort Wayne, 1-5 p.m. April 24 at Eagle Marsh, 6801 Engle Road. Free admission.
* Hoosier ReLeaf and more than 50 local and state environmental groups present Soil to Soil: The Environmental Cycle of Life, 3-8 p.m., Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St. Free admission. The event includes nature activities, chainsaw carving, tree planting, speakers, food, silent auction, wine tasting and more. Tim Womick, who is billed as a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, will appear, and the Kitchen Table Players will provide music.