Honoring the Earth
By Tom Long / Fiddlehead Contributing Editor
Want to try your hand at archery? How about casting a fishing line? Ever get a worm’s eye view of a lake trout, or a prey’s eye view of a hawk or falcon?
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has got you covered. On April 21, outdoorspeople of all ages and interests will converge of the department’s hilltop headquarters in Concord for Discover Wild NH Day. Admission is free.
“It’s a good chance to get out in the fresh air and welcome spring,” Fish and Game spokeswoman, Jane Vachon, said recently.
The department has been holding the event to celebrate Earth Day since 1989. It’s a Woodstock for woodsmen and women and the children who want to join them and draws upward of 10,000 participants in good weather.
“It’s one-stop shopping to see the many groups around the state involved with nature, the environment and outdoor recreation,” said Vachon.
There’s something for nearly everybody: hippies and hunters; fishermen and women; hikers and bikers; kayakers and power boaters. The trained falcon show is always a highlight as is the display of racoons, beavers and other mounted animals by New Hampshire Trappers Association.
You can even sit in Blackhawk helicopter that the New Hampshire National Guard uses for search and rescue missions. Like Ralphie from the movie “A Christmas Story,” you can shoot a BB gun, but with experts on-hand to make sure you don’t shoot your eye out.
The Fish and Game stocking truck will be on-site where visitors can check out trout and other local fish and the Squam Lake Natural Science Center attends with cages full of local critters.
There will be lots of hands-on activities and food vendors, and attendees can even make s’mores over an open fire.
Sporting dogs will demonstrate their retrieving skills and the search-and-rescue pooches that Vachon calls “canine conservation officers” will play hide and seek. There will be an active beehive where you can wonder at the work ethic of the hard-working pollinators, and the Great Bay Discover Center will bring a horseshoe crab and other marine life.
The Department of Environmental Services sponsors a tent filled with booths with information about conserving water, recycling and other earth-friendly concerns.
Discover Wild New Hampshire is not the only local Earth Day celebration. The New Hampshire Audubon Society holds its observation at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn on April 14. This year’s theme is Bee Empowered with a focus on helping the premier pollinators thrive during a challenging period when the industrious insects are experiencing existential environmental challenges.
Members of the Pawtuckaway Beekeepers will be present with an observational hive and will explain the challenges the little guys are experiencing and offer ways you can help. You can learn phenology – the art of studying climate change in your own backyard, not to be confused with phrenology, the discredited study of character and ability as displayed by the bumps on one’s cranium.
Bird handlers from Wings of Dawn Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Henniker will display birds of prey and release a rehabilitated raptor back into the wild. There will be snakes, frogs and turtles to examine as well as guided nature walks. And The Caterpillar Lab of Marlborough will display a selection of the squirmy little guys and explain their lives and wonderous metamorphosis into butterflies and moths.
There will be guided nature walks, food and refreshments, exhibits by earth-friendly businesses and marshmallow roasting over an open fire.
Tickets for this event are $7 for individuals, $20 for families. Just consider it an investment in the planet’s future. .
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