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Oak Harbor celebrates Earth Day

Oak Harbor city staffers will dig into Earth Day with a series of environmentally friendly projects.

The internationally recognized day, which this year falls on April 22, has been celebrated since 1970.

In Oak Harbor, however, it hasn’t always attracted as much attention as in other parts of the country. That’s set to change.

The city will kick off the celebration with a free dump day, Saturday, April 17. City residents can bring a pick-up load of junk to the Oak Harbor Municipal Shop at 1400 NE 16th Ave., from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

City workers will help with a variety of planting and clean-up projects. Wednesday, April 21, city workers will paint the skateboard park and remove some graffiti. Another group will pick up trash at Beeksma Gateway Park and along Beeksma Drive, going toward the waterfront.

A third group will help plant old-fashioned flowers and native plants at Smith Park.

On April 23, city staff will plant some native plants and trees near Freund’s Marsh, a large wetland area that sits behind Burger King.

Another group, working with the Navy, will pick up trash on City Beach, all the way to the Oak Harbor Marina.

To get these projects done, the city will pay its employees for one hour of environmental work. Any other hours contributed by city staffers will be voluntary and unpaid.

“It’s a way for the city to tell the world we are concerned about our environment,” said Howard Thomas, Oak Harbor Senior Center director.

Thomas is one of several city employees who are part of the city’s Environmental Working Group, a committee that was formed about six months ago.

The city’s commitment to the environment is year-round, Thomas said. The city wants to encourage residents to conserve water, participate in recycling and get involved with other conservation programs.

“Our efforts are ongoing,” Thomas said.

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