Earth Day 2020 focuses on climate action for 50th Anniversary

A beautiful scene on the shoreline of J. Percy Priest Lake along the Anderson Road Fitness Trail April 21, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District operates the project and encourages the public to take care of public lands on Earth Day and every day. (USACE photo by Leon Roberts)
April 21, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The first Earth Day in 1970 launched the modern environmental movement, and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event. On the event’s 50th Anniversary April 22, 2020, the theme is climate action.

According to the official Earth Day 2020 website, climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make the world habitable.

Earth Day draws everyone close for the common good, even as the Coronavirus forces people to stay apart. With so many people staying at home this year to slow the spread of COVID-19, event organizers encourage the public to make a huge virtual impact.

“Over the 24 hours of Earth Day, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day will fill the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more,” according to the Earth Day site.

Earth Day is also a perfect time to remember the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ commitment to enhance and protect the environment. For visitors of Corps Lakes, it’s an opportunity to treat the experience like every day is Earth Day.

The Nashville District touches parts of seven states, manages 412,000 acres of land, and offers a variety of recreation opportunities with 25 developed campgrounds, 146 recreation areas, and primitive camping within the states of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Although the campgrounds and many of the day use areas remain closed due to COVID-19, district officials support Earth Day and encourage everyone to continue to be good stewards of public lands when recreating at lakes and recreation areas such as hiking trails.

“We want visitors to enjoy being outdoors, recreate safely, and to take care of the environment,” said Brian Mangrum, Nashville District’s Operation Section chief. “Whether you are boating or enjoying nature along the shoreline, it’s important to maintain and place trash into a receptacle when you are finished with activities.”

Mangrum said the Corps of Engineers and volunteers remove thousands of pounds of trash like used tires, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans every year from the 10 lakes in the Cumberland River Basin, so it’s important to help keep Corps Lakes free of trash and debris.

The Nashville District also helps manage the Cumberland River Basin Clean Marina Program, which is a voluntary program implemented by the district and its watershed partners to promote environmentally responsible marina and boating practices. This program, established in support of the National Clean Boating Campaign, helps marina operators protect the very resource that provides them with their livelihood, which is clean water.

Mangrum said the program is designed to reduce water pollution and erosion in the Cumberland River watershed. The effort encourages boater education, increased coordination among state agencies and better communication of existing laws, as well as offer incentives for creative and proactive marina operators, he said.

Alex A. Beehler, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment, said the Army has been managing some of the nation’s most valuable environmental resources since before Earth Day became a national day of recognition.

In a memo for Earth Day 2020, Beehler stressed that environmental stewardship is an investment in everyone’s future.

“Every effort you take to lessen your effect on the environment, every time you use less water or energy, recycle or reuse products, or select products with less packaging rated as more environmentally friendly or energy efficient, you too are making a difference,” Beehler wrote. “By safeguarding the environment today, we can ensure cleaner land, cleaner water and cleaner air in the future.”