ūüĆé The Compost: 21 ways to celebrate Earth Day in Southern California

Welcome to The Compost, a weekly newsletter on key environmental news impacting Southern California. Subscribe now to get it in your inbox! In today’s edition…


In the middle of the last century, families were cruising down Route 66¬†‚ÄĒ in cars still powered by leaded fuel. Companies were churning out American-made goods¬†‚ÄĒ in factories that spewed pollution and dumped toxic waste in our waters. Farmers were thriving ‚ÄĒ and dousing our food with pesticides.

That last travesty prompted Rachel Carson in 1962 to pen the book Silent Spring. The bestseller is credited with helping to raise public awareness of what we were doing to our planet and life on it. It also set the stage for the United States to hold the first-ever Earth Day on April 22, 1970, which led to creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, laws such as the Clean Air Act and the birth of the modern environmental movement.

More than half a century later, EarthDay.org reports more than 190 countries¬†use April 22 to promote protecting our planet¬†‚ÄĒ a mission that‚Äôs¬†taken on new urgency in light of our current understanding of the climate crisis. More than 1 billion people are mobilized to act on and around Earth Day each year, the organization reports, making it ‚Äúwidely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world.‚ÄĚ

Will you be part of the 1 billion this year?

There are no shortage of events across Southern California to mark the occasion. Here’s a roundup of options if you haven’t made plans yet. (And thanks to those who sent ideas my way!)

Los Angeles County

  • Los Angeles:¬†LA Waterkeeper¬†and¬†Golden Road Brewing have teamed up for a community cleanup¬†to help gather litter along the LA River. The cleanup starts at 9 a.m.¬†at North Atwater Park, at 3900 Chevy Chase Dr. Anyone 21 and over who participates can get a free beer after, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.,¬†at the nearby Golden Road Brewing pub. Save a¬†spot by¬†registering in advance.
  • Long Beach: Cal State Long Beach has been¬†celebrating Earth Month, with events continuing throughout this week. But the highlight is the Green Generation Showcase from 4-7 p.m. Thursday. The public is invited to come see presentations on a¬†record 90 student¬†research, creative and technical projects that explore¬†sustainability topics and solutions.¬†Register in advance¬†for a free e-ticket and details.
  • Calabasas: The city is hosting an¬†Earth Day Celebration/Green Expo¬†from 2 to 5 p.m.¬†Sunday at the Las Virgenes Creek site, north of Agoura Rd. in Calabasas. The event will include more than 50 exhibitors offering tips for residents to¬†save¬†money while protecting our planet, plus there will be information activities for kids.
  • Glendora:¬†The city is organizing a¬†community bike ride, a reptile show,¬†a scavenger hunt, turf removal workshops and more during its all-day event Saturday. It‚Äôs also offering¬†free shuttles to take residents on an eco-tour of Glendora and to the Dalton Wilderness Area. Get the¬†full schedule and details here.
  • Antelope Valley: Help clean up the ruins of Llano del Rio, a commune dreamed up 108 years ago east of Palmdale (go to¬†page 13 of this local paper¬†for more information on the site). Volunteers can get a free lunch¬†and¬†walking tour of the historic area.¬†Register to attend¬†and get details.
  • All over L.A. County: L.A. Works and the California Climate Action Corps have teamed up to organize Earth Day volunteer events throughout the county. Volunteers can sign up to help¬†restore oak woodlands¬†in the Santa Monica Mountains,¬†build a butterfly garden¬†at an elementary school in South Gate and more. Check out¬†all of the options here.

Orange County

  • Laguna Niguel: Volunteers are needed to¬†plant, weed, add mulch¬†and clean up areas of the¬†Niguel Botanical Preserve. The cleanup is 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at¬†29751 Crown Valley Pkwy.¬†Register to participate.
  • Huntington Beach: Sign up to join one of¬†two city-sponsored cleanup events¬†happening 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, with one at¬†Huntington City Beach, at 21579 Pacific Coast Hwy, and another¬†at¬†Bartlett Park, at¬†1922 Beach Blvd.
  • Rancho Mission Viejo: Join a wildflower walk with an expert (for a small fee) or help restore native habitats at¬†The Nature Reserve¬†in Rancho Mission Viejo.¬†Advance registration¬†by 4 p.m. Friday is required for both events, with details to follow.
  • Newport Beach:¬†OC Parks and the Newport Bay Conservancy are bringing back¬†Earth Day at the Bay, a¬†free, family-friendly event with environmental-themed¬†arts and crafts, science discovery and educational information. There will be live music, a scavenger hunt, food trucks and more.
  • Newport Beach: The group¬†Taiwanese American Professionals, or¬†TAP, of¬†Orange County is¬†organizing a beach cleanup¬†from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Corona del Mar. Meet¬†near the bonfire pits at the grass area next to the rocky cliff and bring your own supplies if you have them.
  • Cerritos:¬†Cerritos Towne Center is hosting an¬†Earth Day celebration¬†in the Regal Edwards Courtyard from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, with¬†free kids crafts and games, face painters and more.
  • All of O.C.: Enjoy a free bus or train ride all over Orange County on Saturday. The Orange County Transportation Authority is offering¬†free¬†rides¬†April 22 on¬†any fixed-route bus, with¬†no ticket¬†necessary.¬†Metrolink is also¬†offering free travel¬†on all Metrolink and Arrow trains. Riders can use the promotional code ‚ÄúEarthDay2023‚ÄĚ to redeem their free rides on¬†Earth¬†Day¬†at Metrolink station ticket machines.

Riverside County

  • Riverside: The city is celebrating Earth Day with a¬†free¬†Insect Fair¬†from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Riverside Main Library, 3900 Mission Inn Ave. The event will use beetles, butterflies and other insects to teach kids about nature and the Earth. The¬†Wyland Mobile Learning Experience¬†will also be there to teach kids about the water cycle.
  • Moreno Valley: The city is hosting an¬†Earth Day celebration¬†from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in its new Demonstration Garden, right behind the Moreno Valley Conference and Recreation Center, at 14075 Frederick Street. It includes resource booths, a tree giveaway and¬†crafts and games for kids.
  • Cathedral City: The city in partnership with S.C.R.A.P. Gallery are hosting an¬†Earth Day and Global Youth Service Day celebration¬†from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday in¬†Century Park, at 69908 Century Park Drive. There will be a ‚ÄúWalking for Water 6K,‚ÄĚ tree-planting contest, bicycle education booth and more.

San Bernardino County

  • Redlands: A¬†coalition of environmental groups¬†has organized¬†dozens of volunteer projects and workshops¬†all over the city from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Sign up to pitch in, then get a free lunch after during a celebration 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Smiley Park.
  • Redlands: The San Bernardino County Museum, at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, is¬†offering events throughout¬†the day Saturday¬†to honor Earth Day. From 9 a.m. to noon volunteers can¬†plant seedlings, remove turf¬†and learn about pollinators and indigenous foodways as they help break ground on¬†revitalizing the museum‚Äôs¬†native plant and ethnobotany gardens. They‚Äôre also offering paper-making workshops and DIY seed bomb kits with native flowers as supplies last.
  • Apple Valley: The county museum is offering some of the same activities at its¬†Victor Valley Museum¬†site, at¬†11873 Apple Valley Road.
  • Joshua Tree: Attend one of two¬†events Sunday at the¬†Mojave Desert Land Trust¬†headquarters. For a¬†small fee, visitors can get directions to a self-guided tour of seven¬†desert-wise landscapes in the area. Or they can¬†buy $10 tickets¬†to attend a lecture on butterflies and other pollinators of the¬†Mojave and Colorado desert.
  • Rialto: The city is hosting a¬†‚ÄúThink Green‚ÄĚ Earth Day celebration, with volunteer activities followed by a lunch. Meet at 7:30 a.m. the Maintenance and Facilities Yard, at 246 S. Willow Avenue. To sign up to volunteer,¬†contact Amy Crow at 909-421-7221 or via email at¬†acrow@rialtoca.gov.

For more events, visit EarthDay.org and browse their map.

As for me, I sent off last month for one of the California State Parks Foundation’s Earth Day kits. It included a trash bag, which I plan to use to pick up litter this weekend in a stretch of my own city that often needs cleaning. It also included a coupon to REI, which I’ll use to pick up some gear I still need for my first overnight backpacking trip somewhere wild and wonderful. Hiking and camping always motivate me to do more to protect the nature and wildlife I’ve experienced, and I can’t wait to go even deeper with back-country adventures.

I also hope to catch Los Angeles Times environment reporter Rosanna Xia moderating a panel about climate nonfiction during the paper’s Festival of Books this weekend at USC. And I plan to do a new-to-me hike while the waterfalls are still flowing and the wildflowers are still blooming… Three cheers to planet Earth!

‚ÄĒ By¬†Brooke Staggs, environment reporter


‚ö° ENERGIZE

VP visit: Vice President Kamala Harris toured the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator in downtown L.A.’s Arts District on Monday afternoon to highlight how the Biden-Harris administration is supporting clean energy entrepreneurs and encouraging people of all backgrounds to join America’s green technology industry. Our Clara Harter reports. …READ MORE…

Two-way street: When it comes to electric vehicles, the clean energy boost can flow¬†both ways. Our Bay Area colleague Lisa Krieger reports that EV batteries can hold enough energy to provide backup power to an average U.S. household for at least two to three days. A new proposed bill would require all new EVs in California to come equipped with so-called ‚Äúbidirectional‚ÄĚ charging by 2027.¬†‚ĶREAD MORE‚Ķ


Get a roundup of the best climate and environment news delivered to your inbox each week by signing up for The Compost.


ūüí߬†HYDRATE

H2O recycling boost: The world’s biggest water recycling facility just got bigger, as officials gathered to celebrate a $284 million expansion to Orange County’s 15-year-old Groundwater Replenishment System. Our Destiny Torres reports the facility can now take wastewater and turn it into drinkable water for up to 1 million people a day. …READ MORE…

Nearly drought-free: As the rainy season wraps up, the U.S. Drought Monitor just reported that less than 9% of California is now experiencing drought, which is down from more than 99% at the Oct. 1 start of the water year.  …READ MORE…


[TAG2]
Santa Margarita River flows through the Sandia Creek Drive bridge near Fallbrook on Friday, April 7, 2023. Nonprofit conservation group California Trout is removing the last remaining barrier to the migration of endangered Southern steelhead trout in the Santa Margarita River, and in the process, replacing the existing flood-prone bridge with a new 574-foot steel bridge.(Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

ūüõ°¬†PROTECT

Swim free, trout!: Southern steelhead trout are harbingers of healthy watersheds, signaling enough clear water and open passages for various native species to thrive. They’re also critically endangered. But photographer Watchara Phomicinda and I spent time with folks working to fix that, starting with this local bridge. …READ MORE…

Scrubbing the sea: Could a system that stems from simple chemistry ‚ÄĒ and that went, in just 24 months, from an inches-tall model in a lab to a pilot project on a 100-foot barge in the Port of Los Angeles¬†‚ÄĒ soon start to help ease the climate crisis? I¬†covered¬†the launch of UCLA‚Äôs Project Sea Change, which will scrub carbon from the ocean so it can pull more carbon from the air.¬†‚ĶREAD MORE‚Ķ

Owls and more owls: Here’s a fun tale by Vox reporter Benji Jones about how he stumbled on a thriving population of burrowing owls in an unlikely corner of Southern California. …READ MORE…


ūüöܬ†TRANSPORT

Coast check: With coastal erosion and rising sea levels repeatedly interrupting train service along the coast in South Orange County, Rep. Mike Levin recently toured the area with federal officials and announced a $4 million request for funding to help address the threat. Our Laylan Connelly has the tale. …READ MORE…

Dirty birds: Did you know the average Los Angeles Police Department helicopter uses the same amount of gas as 73 cars? Or that L.A. police choppers used more than 1.2 million gallons of fuel from 2019 to 2020, dwarfing emissions from the celebrity jet trips that have drawn so much attention of late? Those were among the startling findings of a new UCLA study, reported in this story by Arielle Samuelson for Heated. …READ MORE…

Ghost trains: After cost overruns and nearly 10 years of construction, our Steve Scauzillo reports that empty trains are finally being sent down the new tracks and through the twin tunnels to test the nearly completed LA Metro Regional Connector rail line beneath downtown Los Angeles. The long-awaited subway is expected to ease traffic and emissions along portions of the 10 and 110 freeways. …READ MORE…

  • Key quote:¬†‚ÄúThat new line, the one that will go from Long Beach to Azusa, will be the longest light-rail line in the entire world, which is pretty incredible considering Los Angeles is known as a car city.‚ÄĚ

EV dreamin‚Äô: About¬†four¬†in 10 Americans¬†said their¬†next vehicle may be electric, according to a new poll. As for the other six in¬†10,¬†the¬†high cost of EVs¬†‚ÄĒ despite available tax credits¬†‚ÄĒ¬†is a major reason such a purchase is not likely in the cards anytime soon.¬†‚ĶREAD MORE‚Ķ

Speaking of tax credits: New rules for EV credits kick in today, and the New York Times has a rundown of which cars made the latest list, released Monday, to qualify for the incentives. …READ MORE…


ūüéȬ†CELEBRATE

Funding boost: Chapman University‚Äės climate change research lab just received a $2.2 million boost from the federal government. Our Kaitlyn Schallhorn¬†reports the money¬†will help the school‚Äôs¬†Earth Systems Science Data Solutions Lab use data, artificial intelligence and other technology to study and predict¬†climate-related issues such as drought, flood risk, temperature changes and more in California. (Full disclosure, I teach a journalism course at Chapman.)¬†‚ĶREAD MORE‚Ķ


ūü홬†PITCH IN

Join an Earth Day event: For this week’s tip on how Southern Californians can help the environment… Did you see the top of this issue?!? Enjoy celebrating the Earth, Composters!


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