Earth Day, Trail Days bring together nature lovers


(Press staff photo by Hannah Dumas)
Advocates for Snake Preservation Executive Director Melissa Amarello shares Pipsqueak the Bull Snake with Jasper Hostetler. Pipsqueak, 16, whom Amarello rescued 15 years ago, has always enjoyed interacting with people, she said.

Nature lovers and activists of all ages came together over the weekend to celebrate Gila Earth Day and the eighth annual Continental Divide Trail. After switching to remote and hybrid versions of events over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the Gila Resources Information Project, or GRIP, which sponsors both Gila Earth Day and the Trail Days Trail, which organizes the Trail Days. Coalition, were visibly thrilled to offer full in-person programming this year.
While the two events have historically taken place on separate weekends, the organizations came together this year for a joint celebration, which drew a large, multi-generational crowd to Gough Park on Saturday. The organizations sponsored additional events across the county over the weekend.
On Saturday, volunteers worked together to clean up trash in Santa Clara and Silver City, and children learned about earthworm locomotion as they dug through buckets of dirt in Gough Park. Participants young and old donned gigantic Deuter rucksacks and raced through the crowd as onlookers stood in awe. Day hikers embarked on group hikes in the Gila National Forest on Sunday as a scattering of northbound Continental Divide Trail hikers passed through Silver City, the first of 19 “gateway communities” on Sunday. along the trail.
Organizations like Heart of the Gila and Great Old Broads for Wilderness, which typically spend their time working in the wild spaces they aim to protect, have set up stalls in Gough Park. Several dozen organizations, local businesses and outdoor equipment brands were also represented, and a few inflatable houses were set up in the park.
Botanist Patrice Mutchnick, founder and director of Heart of the Gila, described why she works to protect the Gila National Forest and the free-flowing river that runs through it.
“We founded [Heart of the Gila] continue Ella’s work [Jaz Kirk]she [Sala Myers] and Michael [Sebastian Mahl] in protecting wild places,” Mutchnick said.
Kirk, Mutchnick’s daughter, along with Myers and Mahl, were killed in a 2014 plane crash near Whiskey Creek Airport while conducting aerial search for the Signal Peak Fire in the Washington National Forest. Gila. The trio of Aldo Leopold High School students were known for their work conserving and protecting the Gila River.
“I do everything I can to help protect wild places and foster a love of these places in children – that’s what I do in honor of [my daughter]“, Mutchnick said.
Her ability to spark curiosity and a love of nature was tangible on Saturday afternoon, as children gathered around her and several buckets of dirt to find worms wriggling beneath the surface. As one child inspected a snail, another showed Mutchnick a worm he had found.
Eight-year-old Theodore Cramm stopped to dig to talk to the newspaper.
“I don’t know why we only have one day a year to celebrate Earth,” he said. “Why isn’t Earth Day every day?! Without Earth, we wouldn’t exist right now, and we’re heading towards the end of our existence with how we treat it.
Cramm spoke of his love for the planet and all the natural world had to offer “before we even made any technology,” he said. As for his thoughts on how to take better care of the planet?
“We absolutely have to clean the trash cans,” he said.
GRIP executive director Allyson Siwik agreed.
As part of the weekend’s events, “we coordinated three locations for trash pickup,” she said. “We teamed up with Leigh Jenkins of the Silver City Watershed Keepers, Heart of the Gila, Santa Clara Action Committee as well as [state Rep.] Luis Terrazas and the “Toss No Mas” campaign.
Gila Heart Education and Outreach Coordinator Elysha Montoya, who grew up in Bayard, teamed up with Santa Clara Administrator Olga Amador, who is also chair of the Santa Clara Action Committee. Clara, to clear a section of Cameron Creek parallel to Fort. Bayard Street in Santa Clara. Twenty people joined them on Saturday morning.
Montoya said she acquired her love for the outdoors from her mother, who ran an after-school gardening program at Bayard in the early 2000s. Montoya – who also joined Mutchnick in leading first-graders at Jose Barrios Elementary — including Montoya’s son, in gardening activities Friday in honor of Earth Day — described how meaningful it was to continue in his mother’s footsteps.
“It’s come full circle,” she said.
Andrea Kurth, community program manager for Continental Divide Trail Coalition Gateway, said Saturday’s joint event drew more people than the two events separately in the past, and described her hope for the community to get involved in continuing the coalition’s mission to promote, protect and complete the Continental Divide Trail.
“Local communities are really going to be the best advocates for protecting the Continental Divide Trail, and we want local people to be involved in its management, and also to get out and enjoy the trail. We want to get out of the mentality that the trail is only for hikers,” she said, adding that the weekend provided “a really great opportunity for us to bring the hiking community together with the Silver City community, celebrate CDT, and bring all of these amazing partners together to celebrate the outdoors and the incredible recreational opportunities Silver City has to offer.
Newly retired since 2 p.m. Saturday, Gila Earth Day coordinator and GRIP program coordinator Doyne Wrealli agreed.
” The collaboration [between Gila Earth Day and Trail Days] has been great,” she said. “I think we had good cross-pollination. CDT people tend to be younger, and we tend to be geezers. It was a very nice cross-pollination.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness member Marty Eberhardt and co-leader Marcia Stout spoke about what they see as a distinct feature of the collaborative nature of the environmental organizations present on Saturday.
“Isn’t it a nice little town, with so many organizations dedicated to conservation and related issues?” said Eberhardt.

Hannah Dumas can be contacted at [email protected]


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