BY PAUL BICKLEY
Elizabeth Tompkins, natural resources coordinator for the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, says the goal of the four Earth Week activities the city has planned is to “get people outside and help them connect with local natural areas.”
Activities begin on Monday, April 17, with the free Bryan Park Tree Survey from 6 to 7 p.m. In this new program, participants 8 years and older will meet at Woodlawn Shelter and join a city forester to conduct an inventory of tree genera, species, and sizes. The results will be compiled with future measurements to provide information on the health and growth of trees in Bryan Park.
At an unguided Family Night Paddle from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21, registrants will meet at the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve Boathouse, paddle watercraft at sunset, and watch darkness descend over the water. This paddle is for all ages, but an adult must accompany children under 14. A flashlight is recommended for navigation back to vehicles. Registration ends April 20.
Saturday, April 22, is the Earth Day Paddle, also on Griffy Lake. On this canoeing adventure from 10 to 11 a.m., participants will identify flora and fauna with the help of a city education specialist. Paddlers will also learn about sustainable transportation and protecting aquatic habitats. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are all provided. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration ends April 17.
Also on April 22, participants of all ages can make and bake their own pizzas in an oven powered by the sun during the Pizza Box Solar Oven demonstration at Lower Cascades Park’s Waterfall Shelter from noon to 1:30 p.m. A city education specialist will discuss sustainable energy while participants make small pizzas in an on-site solar oven and construct their own solar ovens to take home. Registration ends April 17.
Tompkins says that Parks and Rec offers similar programming year-round. “All of our programming is about fostering stewardship for local natural areas,” she says. “It connects participants more with those areas. If we have a connection with and enjoyment of nature, then we have more desire to protect it.”
For information, visit the Parks and Rec Department at 401 N. Morton St., Suite 250, or online at bloomington.in.gov/parks.