The highlight of Earth Day Fort Wayne on Sunday at Eagle Marsh will be views of a pair of nesting bald eagles.
Earth Day was originally a national event when it began April 22, 1970, started by US Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It falls around the spring equinox/ According to the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, “Earth Day was a turning point for environmental politics, starting the 'Environmental Decade' of radical legislative reforms.”
During the '70s Nelson was instrumental in getting environmental legislation implemented including the Clean Water Act, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Education Act, the National Hiking Trails and the National Scenic Trails Acts and the establishment of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Last year's Earth Day event at Eagle Marsh drew 1,200 people, and, weather permitting, Betsy Yankowiak, executive director of the Little River Wetlands Project, said they are hoping to draw an even bigger crowd for Sunday's 1-5 p.m. event. Visitors will have a chance to explore the 716-acre acre wetland preserve on Fort Wayne's southwest side, getting “hands-on” with nature at discovery stations and other free activities. This year they will have many of the same activities they had last year, and of course the star attraction is a pair of nesting bald eagles that live in the Marsh. The pair has already laid an unknown number of eggs in their nest. Yankowiak said the pair takes turns on the nest, while one incubates the eggs the other hunts for food.
Right now is the perfect time to observe the nest with the high-powered spotting scopes at the special Earth Day viewing station, because the leaves on the trees are still budding. In a couple of more weeks the nest will be totally hidden from view.
Yankowiak, said the number of people attending the free nature programs over the year at Eagle Marsh has doubled from 6,000 in 2012 to 12,000 in 2013.
“We would really like to see families come out and discover the natural world around us,” Yankowiak said.
General Motors is the sponsor of the farmers market, featuring locally grown produce and baked goods, NIPSCO is sponsoring a native species area where visitors can preserve Eagle Marsh with native plants, Indiana Michigan Power is sponsoring 10 free, fun, hands-on stations for kids and OmniSource is providing free snacks and sponsoring the main information tent.
Additional sponsors include: 3 Rivers Credit Union, Physicians Health Plan, Fort Wayne Metals, The U.S. Green Building Council, Coventry Meadows, Republic Services and The Plex.