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Earth Day, Inside — Maine Groups Mark Holiday's 50th Anniversary Virtually

Environmental and other groups in Maine are marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week, but mostly online.

A virtual Earth Day fair on Wednesday, sponsored by Maine Conservation Voters, the Maine Audubon Society and others, will include a morning concert, a seminar on environmemntal activism and an evening film festival.

Maine Audubon’s director of conservation, Sallie Stockwell, participated in the very first Earth Day. She says the movement proved that citizens and business could work together to curb pollution while maintaining economic growth — a model that she says can be used to address global climate change.

“We essentially got rid of acid rain. We closed the ozone hole in the atmosphere that was threatening life on Earth. We can do these things if we pull together and really work on solving complex problems,” she says.

The state’s largest environmental organization, The Natural Resources Council of Maine, is presenting a weeklong series of online events and webinars to mark the Earth Day anniversary, including a podcast by longtime Maine outdoors journalist Bill Green.

Green says the early movement set the stage for decades of progress, including vital work on clean air and water legislation by Maine leaders such as Ed Muskie and George Mitchell. And he’s not disappointed that the pandemic may draw some attention away from the event’s half-century mark.

“I think every day is Earth Day. I think Earth Day was about creating an awareness not just in the environmental movement bit among all of us that we have to treat the Earth more kindly,” he says.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.