Dartmouth celebrates Earth Day with cleanups, lessons

Apr 22, 2021

The weather might have started off cool and gray, but that didn’t stop the people of Dartmouth from celebrating Earth Day outdoors.

At the North Dartmouth Library, a small group of volunteers began the first of many cleanups around the property.

“This is an area that needed a little TLC,” cleanup organizer Heidi Brooks said. “We might not get done today, but at least it’s a start.” 

The group first worked to remove invasive plants from the premises. 

Brooks said this spring was “the best time to get anything that shouldn’t be here” instead of later in the summer, when the invasives will be fully grown with large roots. 

The main plants removed were weeds and Tree of Heaven — an invasive species Library Building Committee Chair Suzanne McDonald said “was the biggest pain” to remove.

“They’re evil,” she said.

The Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust also did its part to green up the town.

During the afternoon, more than 40 volunteers came out to pick up litter on the roads around Cornell Pond, the Shingle Island River, Ridge Hill, and Howland Reserves.

“Plastic is forever — what's on the roadside now will still be there in 20 years,” DNRT Outreach Coordinator Kendra Murray said. “No one likes to see garbage along the roadsides when they are walking and driving and it's especially upsetting to see when you're on a hike.”

In total, volunteers cleaned up 50 bags of trash mostly consisting of nips, Dunkin’ cups, and water bottles — along with two folding chairs and four tires.

We also found a lot of car parts,” she added.

Along with looking messy, Murray noted that leftover litter is also dangerous to wildlife. She said that small animals can get trapped in containers, and some litter can be mistaken for food.

Ingesting plastic is never a good idea, and it can make animals sick or even die,” Murray said. “It just isn't right.”

Cleanups weren’t the only ways Dartmouth residents honored the planet. 

Throughout the week, the Lloyd Center for the Environment hosted its annual April vacation programs to educate future generations about local ecosystems and how they interact.

The kids learned which animals return during the spring, spent time by the water, and studied the weather at the South Dartmouth property.

“We had weather day on the most beautiful day, it should have been today,” Instructor Amanda Nowicki laughed. “It was actually snowing down here earlier in the morning.”

On Earth Day, the young naturalists learned to identify moss and lichen and searched for decomposers like worms, millipedes, and roly polies along the center’s trails.

Outreach Specialist Ashley Gesner said that while decomposers aren’t the first things people think of on Earth Day, they too play an important role in keeping the planet green.

“That’s what decomposers do, they clean up,” she said.

Nowicki agreed.

“They have such important roles that people don’t realize because they think they’re creepy,” she said to her students. “These bugs have such important jobs to do.”