WALNUT CREEK -- Celebrate the Earth by giving back.

The city's open space division is planning Earth Day activities all day long on April 20. During the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day -- created to raise awareness about environmental protection -- residents can help oak tree habitat in the open space by day and take a hike at night.

It's one way to celebrate the 2,728 acres of the Walnut Creek Open Space, said Supervising Ranger Nancy Dawson Dollard.

The day kicks off with a bird walk at the Acalanes Open Space at 9 a.m. at the end of Sousa Drive. Ranger Dan Bylin will lead hikers through oak woodlands along Putnam Creek to look for nesting vireos and migrant warblers.

Also at 9 a.m. a community service project kicks off in the Sugarloaf Open Space. Though cattle were removed from that open space a couple of years ago, the fencing that helped to corral the cows is still in place, Dollard said.

Volunteers will continue the work started by Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation members who have been planting oaks throughout the open space for 20 years. Volunteers, including kids as young as 6, can help, clearing excess bracing and fencing around the young oaks, Dollard said.

"This will let the trees breathe and grow," she said.

At noon guests are invited to bring a picnic to the Sugarloaf open space, the city will provide charcoal for the grill, dessert and drinks.


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Then from 2 to 3:30 Dollard will teach environmental activities for kids at Howe Homestead on Walnut Boulevard. The activities include, for kids six to 12, exploration of the butterfly garden, the community garden, a short hike on the Kovar Trail and a craft.

The day will end at Acalanes Open Space with a quarter moon hike with Ranger Bruce Weidman.

"We always claim it's a chance to see nature's night shift at work," Dollar said.

Local Earth Day events are important because it connects people with their environment, she said.

"We can be concerned about rain forests and the tundra and other worldwide environments that are very important but if you don't understand the habitat in your own backyard ... If you don't have a connection with the nature around you, then you don't work to preserve it," she said.

All events, except for the early morning bird walk, require registration but all activities are free and open to the public. For more information and to register contact the ranger staff at dollard@walnut-creek.org. by April 18.

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.

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