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Posted 7/16/2018

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By Ann Marie R. Harvie
USACE, New England District


New England District is steeped in tradition – from ceremonies of old to current annual events.  One of these traditions – celebrating Earth Day – has become as time honored as reciting the District’s history during Founder’s Day.

Three New England District projects – West Hill Dam, Hodges Village Dam and the Cape Cod Canal – all held Earth Day events.  Earth Day, a national event that began in 1970, celebrates the birth of the modern environmental movement.  The annual event usually results in the cleanup of public lands, as was the case at the District projects.

West Hill Dam held its trail clean up on April 22 at the project.  Thirty people spent their day clearing brush and storm damage, improving trail surfaces, water bars and erosion areas.  The New England Mountain Bike Association Black Stone Chapter, the New England Bike Association Black Stone Chapter, and the Bay State Trail riders provided most of the volunteers and collaborated with the West Hill team for the event.  “Bay State Trail Riders, Inc. has been with us since 1995 when we first opened the Woodland Trail,” said Earth Day event planner and West Hill Dam Park Ranger Viola Bramel.

Bramel and USACE Volunteer Linda Lestus represented the West Hill Dam during the trail cleanup. 

At Hodges Village Dam, five science students from the Shepard Hill School in Dudley, Massachusetts, planted four pollinator gardens for their contribution to Earth Day.  “Their task was to dig out grass on a 4’x4’ plot, rake it out and plant provided wildflower seeds,” said Hodges Village Park Ranger Nicole Giles.  Giles also organized the project’s Earth Day event.  “It was all native, mostly perennial seed.”

Giles said she provided the group with Anyse Hyssop to plant in the middle of the gardens.  “One garden even got a cool rock wall around it,” she said.

In addition to the work performed at Hodges Village, Giles also traveled to Charlton Center for the town’s Earth Day celebration.  “I had a display table and taxidermy critters from the office,” she said.  “I was there for about three hours and answered a lot of questions about the dams, the Corps and the wildlife I had on display."

According to Giles, about 100 people came to visit her at the display.

At the Cape Cod Canal, 221 volunteers performed trash removal activities along seven miles of the North Service Road.  They picked up a boatload of trash – literally.  To illustrate the amount of refuse removed, and to be able to have a creative way to transport the trash to the dump, G&S Marine donated a vessel for the day.  The Cape Cod Canal team collaborated with AmeriCorps, Cape Cod for their 18th Earth Day event.

In addition to trash clean up, nine federal, state and local organizations hosted exhibits and displays with an environmental theme.  Activities were also part of the displays and included making paracord and water cycle bracelets, origami planters, rock painting, a fishing game, bocce ball, bag your own compost and first aid. The hundreds of volunteers that came to the New England District sites helped save the government thousands of dollars in labor and cleaned up the facilities so that everyone could enjoy them for another season.  Based on the number of volunteers and the success of the New England District events, the Earth Day tradition will continue next year and for years into the future.