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Lynne Plambeck: Meet us at the Fair

Posted: April 15, 2009 11:30 p.m.
Updated: April 16, 2009 4:30 a.m.
The Earth Day Fair, that is! The city of Santa Clarita will hold its very first Earth Day Fair at Central Park this Saturday (more info on the city’s Web site at

Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was conceived by former Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisc. as a means of bringing attention to environmental issues troubling our nation. The ’70s were a time of renewed activism and belief in democracy. Students took to the streets in demonstrations aimed at changing the direction of the Vietnam War as well as to our wasteful and polluting use of America’s bounty.

Thanks to the interest generated by this event, that decade also saw the passage of landmark environmental protection legislation including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Earth Day is a time to celebrate the beauty of our natural environment, and a time to re-evaluate and examine our own actions. It has become so popular that in the past several years an estimated one billion people participated in Earth Day activities throughout the world.

This year the city of Santa Clarita will combine its much-loved Arbor Day event into an Earth Day Fair that has the new focus of environmental business and paying for itself.

We are sorry to see the loss of focus on trees, as their protection is important to solving climate warming. We are also sorry to see this event move away from the nonprofit focus on individual action that is usually at the center of the event.

Much of the change that will be required of our society to weather the storm of environmental degradation will come only as a result of changes in individual lifestyles. But changes in the products that businesses offer us will certainly help, too.  

It is important to remember Earth Day is celebrated in the spring, a perfect time to look around at the budding renewal of our natural treasures. We have so many in the Santa Clarita Valley. We are blessed with swallows that return every year from their amazing migration to Argentina to nest in our community.

Spring is a time of nesting birds. Redtail hawks soar in protective circles above their young, hummingbirds make their tiny hanging nurseries and the trees are decorated with the songs and colors of migrating avian visitors.

But too often residents and the city forget that the spring is a deadly time to trim trees. Joyous birdsongs and lives of nesting young are cut short by the sound of chain saws. This is an area where greater community awareness is needed.

Our valley is blessed with magnificent oaks that are hundreds of years old, yet we routinely approve development that turns them into firewood instead of requiring that they be incorporated into the design of the project. There is room for improvement here.

Agencies continue to allow our streams and tributaries to be encased in concrete. This is an archaic destruction of nature not allowed in communities elsewhere. It is not only ugly, but also a poor way to protect our water resources. We need to change this.

Our own Santa Clara River is a treasure trove of rare and endangered species. Have we exulted in this gift nature has given our community? Do we proclaim its uniqueness and provide educational materials to raise community awareness? Illegal off-road vehicle use kills these species and destroys their sensitive habitat.

Santa Clarita’s skies are often a gorgeous blue, hiding the insidious ozone level that can damage lungs and make breathing painful. Yet 50 percent of the cars sold in the SCV are gas-guzzling SUVs. And no wonder ... the federal government allows tax deductions for their purchase.

As world oil reserves diminish, air pollution continues to worsen and climate change becomes a reality everyone can recognize, we must move toward alternative, nonpolluting fuels and increased fuel efficiency.

As part of the solution, we must encourage alternative modes of transportation (walking and biking) and public transportation. Are we doing the best we can locally in these areas? Our city could encourage these changes locally by promoting them in our planning choices.

The old Earth Day admonition to “Think locally, act globally” is not a tired truism. It is a mantra we should repeat every day with real action. On this Earth Day, it is time to remember that each of our actions multiplied by the millions of our fellow humans has a significant affect on our environment.

Yes! Recycling does make a difference. If we recycle, we save those resources for use again and reduce the need for new landfills that destroy our canyons. Taking your own cloth bag to the grocery store saves resources and reduces garbage.

Yes! Turning out that unneeded light or replacing regular bulbs with high energy efficient bulbs can save salmon by reducing the need for dams on rivers. These are not just trivial deeds to make us feel better; they are small ways each of us can really help save the natural beauty of our world and of our own community by treading more softly.

And yes! The choices we make as we develop our community will have a huge impact on our own local environment and quality of life. It is important for residents to attend city and county planning hearings to speak up for protecting our local environment.

It is a credit to the gentleman from Wisconsin that this celebration continues today throughout our nation and the world. Celebrated both as an expression of the joy and beauty of wildness as well as a time to take a hard look at our own place and impact on the grand scheme of nature, it brings a renewed awareness of environmental successes and issues to be addressed.

I hope you will all able to visit an Earth Day event this week and that you will get involved in helping to make our local environment a healthier and more beautiful place to live.

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) and a Santa Clarita resident. “Environmentally Speaking” appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local environmentalists. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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