The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 22, 2013

Earth Day celebrations planned as area focuses on rebuilding environment

JOPLIN, Mo. — Area environmental enthusiasts began celebrating Earth Day early this year, as local organizations kicked off a weeklong calendar of events aimed at increasing awareness and appreciation of Mother Nature.

Chris Pistole, education director at the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, said today — Earth Day — is a time for the Joplin community to refocus on rebuilding the natural area that was devastated by the May 22, 2011, tornado.

“I think that we have to send out a strong message in the town for Earth Day,” Pistole said. “We want people to realize nature is resilient, and we can rebuild the natural parts around here with dedication. It will turn into a domino effect. You’ll see trees come back, then the birds, and then a positive environmental difference in the end.”

The center gave away more than 340 plants and 2,000 trees and shrubs Saturday as part of a naturescaping workshop that was open to the public.

“We want to use natural plants to enhance the landscape while rebuilding for the long term,” Pistole said. “A lot of people are now focusing on that locally after they realized the work that will go into bringing nature back. You can’t just rebuild a 100-year-old oak tree overnight, but you can plant it now and start encouraging that growth.”

The center also held a showing Sunday of the documentary “Green Fire,” which covers the work of influential environmentalist Aldo Leopold. A forum was held with Susan Flader, a University of Missouri-Columbia professor who has written several books on the career and philosophy of Leopold.

The nature center will be closed today as part of normal business hours, though the trails around the center will be open.

“I want people to be able to take the day to help reconnect with nature,” Pistole said. “We are glad that we can provide a venue where that is possible, and we encourage the public to take in the beautiful parts of our area that exist.”

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