Entertainment, Life & Leisure

Environmental organizations to celebrate Earth, promote greenbelt with festival

To celebrate Earth Day and promote a Morgantown greenbelt, the Mon Valley Green Space Coalition (MVGSC) and the West Virginia Land Trust (WVLT) will host the fourth-annual Touch the Earth Festival from 1-4 p.m. April 20, at the pavilion in Marilla Park.

Other local environmental organizations will participate in the event, which is free and open to the public.

The festival will feature fun and educational activities, including a tree-planting event, knot-tying and hammock-camping demonstrations, an electric bike demonstration by Wamsley Cycles, a trail-building exercise and performances by a local music group.

It will also showcase a map of the proposed Morgantown greenbelt that would link greenspaces, including city parks, the rail-trail and other public recreational areas around Morgantown and would offer residents and visitors a safe and healthy way to travel around the city on foot or bike.

Other festival activities will include a guided tour of the parks trails, including a presentation on the ongoing repair of one of the park s gullies and selfguided scavenger hunts in which participants will identify local wildflowers and invasive plants. The trail-building event will start at 1:30 p.m. with the tree-planting activity at 2:30, and the guided tour of Marilla Parks trails at 3 p.m. Other events will be ongoing throughout the festival.

Participating local environmental organizations include Friends of Deckers Creek, the Mon Group of the West Virginia Sierra Club, the Morgantown Green Team, the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, Coopers Rock Foundation, Mountaineer Audubon, the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the West Virginia Public Lands Coalition, Mountain SOL School and the Monongahela Master Naturalists.

The festival will take place rain or shine.

The Mud Larks will perform at 1:30 p.m., followed by Cindy OBrien and her band of friends.

We are looking forward to sharing the newly designed conceptual map of the Morgantown Greenbelt

at the festival. Earth Day is the perfect occasion to highlight the ecological services that a greenbelt provides while simultaneously offering pedestrians and cyclists a safe alternative to traveling on Morgantowns streets and roads,said JoNell Strough, a WVU professor of psychology and the chair of the MVGSC.

We re excited to host the fourth Touch-the-Earth Festival, and we anticipate that well get a good turnout and have lots of lively discussions about the green future of Morgantown.

We ve expanded our list of activities and hope to see lots of kids this year kids hiking, kids on bikes, kids planting trees, kids learning a few trees and wildflowers.

Whats better than that? said Rick Landenberger, a MVGSC board member, an associate professor of geography at WVU and a science and management specialist with the West Virginia Land Trust.