Thursday, September 15, 2011

An abundance of enviro activities next week

An abundance of enviro activities next week

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Have you ever enjoyed a walk at Heritage Park in Champaign? Do you value the natural areas at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana? If so, you might be interested to know of an upcoming opportunity to deepen your connection to such places.

It’s an event called National Public Lands Day, which is intended to help people learn about environmental and natural resources issues, and to provide volunteers with opportunities to improve public lands for outdoor recreation.

National Public Lands Day takes place next Saturday, September 24. It is being promoted locally by the U of I Extension’s East Central Illinois Master Naturalist program, in cooperation with the agencies that manage participating sites.

The National Public Lands Day event at Meadowbrook Park is designed with families in mind. It begins with a program of hands-on work from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Taking advantage of the season, Urbana Park District personnel will lead some volunteers in an expedition to collect seeds from native plants in the Meadowbrook prairie restoration. These seeds will be used to establish prairie at other sites next year. Other participants will remove invasive plants, improve trails and pick up litter. [Photo by Kim Horbas. Volunteers collect seed at Buffalo Trace Prairie near Mahomet.]

After the work wraps up, park district educators will conduct a free program that includes a guided hike with activities about invasive species and how to take care of parks. Children under 16 who are accompanied by an adult are welcome to participate in both the work and the educational program at Meadowbrook.

The National Public Lands Day event at Heritage Park in Champaign is geared more for adult volunteers. Participants there will cooperate with park district workers to remove invasive plants and do general clean up from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Other events associated with National Public Lands Day will take place at a number of area sites, including the Buffalo Trace Prairie near Mahomet, the Pollinatarium on the UI campus and the Illinois Demonstration Prairie on Country Fair Drive near I-72 in Champaign.

Further details about all of the events associated with National Public Lands Day are available

You can gear up for National Public Lands Day with two special-event film screenings next week.

On Tuesday evening, the Art Theater in Champaign will host a screening of the documentary Bag It, sponsored Champaign Surplus, the Common Ground Food Coop and Prairie Rivers Network. According to promotional materials, the film “started as a documentary about plastic bags [and] evolved into a wholesale investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our bodies.” A panel discussion following the screening will focus on how personal choices and social policy could reduce some of the negative impacts of plastics.

Tickets for Bag It are $10 and are available through all three sponsors or at the door. The film starts at 7:00 p.m.

On Thursday evening, the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and the Forest Preserve Friends Foundation will present the film Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time at the Virginia Theatre. This is the first full-length film to treat the life and thought of Aldo Leopold, the legendary conservationist whose vision continues to inspire the modern environmental movement. After the film, UI law professor Eric Freyfogle will host a discussion about the conservation ethic Leopold articulated and the impact it has had locally.

Tickets for Green Fire are $10 general admission/$7 students and seniors, available through or at the door. Proceeds from the screening will be directed to the Champaign County Forest Preserve District’s land acquisition and preservation efforts.