Living in western Wisconsin for years we came to appreciate how close our communities were to the roots of Earth Day. Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Clear Lake, Wisconsin founded Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Although no one agrees with everything a political figure stands for, we can all agree from time to time they get some things right. As a governor of Wisconsin and then senator, Nelson saw the need to increase environmental awareness and address ecological concerns and conservation issues. The first Earth Day celebrations also marked the beginning of environmental legislation in our country. While the emphasis of the original Earth Day was largely political, Nelson believed future efforts should advocate environmental education at a grassroots level. Throughout our communities thousands of trees have been planted as a result of it. 

Today, Earth Day should inspire us to take the next steps to be mindful of the environment in our daily habits, like implementing recycling or starting a compost pile; reducing water use by planting our lawns with native plants that require less water; installing low flow sprinkler systems; and buying dual-flush toilets or energy smart dishwashers and washing machines that use less water; and updating lighting to LED. For those who can, an electric car, riding a bike or carpooling to work can make sense, both environmentally and financially.  

Repurposing items for a different use is another opportunity to support our environment. This weekend’s Trash to Treasure event is one I look forward to each year. I get satisfaction from reclaiming a little more square footage in my house by cleaning out unused or unwanted items that someone else can use, rather than adding to the landfills. Trash to Treasure Day is all day Saturday throughout White Bear Township and White Bear Lake. Residents can put unwanted items at the end of their driveways for others to take. It’s surprising how much gets picked up right away. Items that aren’t taken should be brought in at the end of the day, and could be donated or disposed of at the city’s Spring Clean-up Day May 1. 

Vadnais Heights’ annual Spring Clean-up Day is also this Saturday, April 24 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out our Earth Day page in the paper this week and consider ways you and your family can make a difference.  

 

Bees  

Many beekeepers have taken delivery of their spring bees. We purchased 3-pound packs of bees with a queen. As a new beekeeper I’ve challenged myself to raise a perfect colony this season. In past years I have purchased a 4-frame nuc that has frames of brood (bee larvae). This year the 3-pound pack is a queen and thousands of bees in a plastic screen box with a feeder can. With little natural food we feed the bees sugar water and pollen patties and hopefully we are off to a good start this season. In the next few weeks I hope to find frames filled out with brood baby bees.  

If you’re interested in a new hobby or learning about our pollinator friends, check out local beekeeping club or classes. A friend in Hugo was able to build his equipment with materials he had in his shed and started beekeeping with little to no out of pocket investment other than the cost of the bees. A good bee suit is also a must. 

Last year my queen left and I lost part of a hive, which swarmed to the neighbors hive. If you see a honey bee swarm please call a local beekeeper or beekeeping club for help. Honey bee swarms are usually docile and are just looking for a new home. I have been told it’s a pretty awesome sight. Please don’t call an exterminator, or try to shoo them away. A beekeeper will be happy to move them.  

Beekeeping can be a good activity for the whole family. Check with your city or township to make sure beekeeping is allowed or what permits may be needed. My permit was $50 and included getting signatures from each neighboring property within 100 feet of our lot. 

 

School Walk Outs 

High School students across the state planned a school walkout Monday as a way to take a stand against racial injustice. Our communities feel like a pressure cooker without a relief valve. We can’t allow more and more steam to build or it’s going to explode. We need recognition, apologies, action, and most of all, forgiveness.  

Racial injustice exists here. It’s time for us to look within for ways -big and small- we can be part of the solution. It’s long overdue. 

 

Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.

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