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Earth Day Celebration Events Planned for April

RELEASED: April 14, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members can celebrate Earth Day during April with a variety of activities sponsored by the university.

Members of the campus and greater Eau Claire communities can join students in cleaning up the banks of the Chippewa River near campus, view a documentary with a conservation message or participate in an Eco Tour of the area.

The Earth Day celebration events will kick off when author, river guide and veteran woodsman Kenny Salwey will make an appearance at the airing of a BBC film celebrating his life at 7 p.m. April 15 in Schofield Auditorium at UW-Eau Claire.

The environmental documentary is based on two books: "The Last River Rat: Kenny Salwey's Life in the Wild" and "Kenny Salwey's Tales of a River Rat." The film captures the dynamics of the Upper Mississippi backwaters and bluff country.

On April 16, a riverbank clean up will begin at 4 p.m. behind the Hilltop Center on upper campus. Garbage bags will be provided.

Eco Tour imageTo educate people about the natural venues near the campus, the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association, with help from faculty and students, is sponsoring an Eco Tour April 26.

"We'd like to see this event become an annual event, like Homecoming is in the fall, that will bring alumni back to campus in the spring," said Jeff McCarthy, a member of the Alumni board of directors and a 1980 graduate of UW- Eau Claire who developed the idea of the Eco Tour.

The event will include a nature walk through Putnam Park, led by UW-Eau Claire biologist Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff. She will talk about the ecology and natural history of the park. Nature cooperating, she'll also point out migratory birds and spring flowers along the hike.

"We will learn about this valuable wildlife habitat and migration corridor along the Chippewa River." said Kleintjes Neff, "It is a crown jewel for the campus and community. I hope participants will come away with a better understanding of and appreciation for open space and nature in what is otherwise an urban area."

Following the hike, the group will bike to Phoenix Park to participate in citywide Earth Day events. At Phoenix Park, the Alumni Association will have a table with displays by some of the faculty and students.

After the Phoenix Park activities, the Eco Tour group will bike to Carson Park, where they will canoe on Half Moon Lake and learn about the area's water ecosystems and conservation efforts from Dr. Harry Jol and Dr. Douglas Faulkner, professors of geography and anthropology at UW-Eau Claire.

"It's a great opportunity to come and enjoy the beauty of the UW-Eau Claire campus, the City of Eau Claire, Half Moon Lake, Phoenix Park and the Chippewa River," said John Bachmeier, director of Alumni Relations.

It also is a great way to integrate the campus activities with the city's celebration, said McCarthy.

"The chancellor has charged us to bridge the gap between the university and the city and this is one small response to that challenge," said McCarthy. "We hope this event will let alumni, students, faculty and the community enjoy some of the natural beauty that is all around us on this campus. It's something that makes this university a special place and we should celebrate it."

For more information or to register for the Eco Tour, go to the Alumni Web site or call Jane Larson at 715-836-3266.

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KH

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