Happy Earth Day, Catskills

Nature's always close at hand in the Catskills, on Earth Day and every day. Photo by Kellsey Buerge; submitted to our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Earth Day turns 44 this year. In cities across America, environmentally-minded citizens are celebrating the holiday with big green-themed fests, parties and exhibit fairs. 

Not so in the Catskills, where Earth Day celebrations tend to be more low-key. Here, Mother Nature isn't an occasional guest to fête; she's a full-time resident. But this week, the local area holds a few special events in honor of the planet. 

Today, the Arkville-based Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the MARK Project are setting up shop outside a few local stores to give away reusable shopping bags: The Freshtown and the Dollar Store in Margaretville, and the Great American in Prattsville. Stop by to get a grocery bag that won't end up in a landfill -- or, better yet, bring your own. 

Sullivan County's digital library of maps for hiking trails and public lands, Trailkeeper.org, is celebrating today with a family scavenger hunt at Turtle Spring Nature Trail, at 64 Ferndale-Loomis Road in Liberty. Treasure hunters of all ages will get a chance to try geocaching, in which hikers hunt for hidden capsules with the help of GPS receivers. The scavenger hunt runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. To pre-register for the event, call the Sullivan County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 845-292-6180, or email Nicole Slevin at nas96@cornell.edu

Learn about local birds today at 4 p.m. at the Kingston Library, where avid avian enthusiast Mike DeDea of the Forsyth Nature Center will be holding forth on the region's birdy biodiversity. The talk is geared toward children, who can create a bird coloring book to take home.

The SUNY Delhi campus is celebrating Earth Day all week, with hikes, craft workshops, and screenings of films like "The Story of Stuff" and "FOOD, Inc."

The biggest local Earth Day party kicks off in New Paltz this Sunday, April 27: the annual Earth Day Fair at the Reformed Church of New Paltz on Hugenot Street. The event begins at 10 a.m. with an outdoor worship service, then moves on to live music, festivities and children's activities. Local environmental groups will be out in full force at the event, including Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Mohonk Preserve, Riverkeeper, the permaculture Center for Bioregional Design and many more; fest-goers can also meet local farmers and get a taste of locally-raised food at the restaurant booths. 

Want to volunteer at a local green space this week? Drop by Liberty's LaPolt Park this Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to noon, the site of a community-wide park cleanup. Note: The event is BYOR (Bring Your Own Rake). 

Readers: Know of another local Earth Day-themed event this week? Let us know and we'll add it to this post.