Local Earth Day rooted in lake water quality awareness

(Above) Clear Creek Elementary School Principal Sally Duesenberg leads the “Critter Parade” at local Earth Day activities Saturday.-Reporter photo by Chris Barragy.

Earth Day has become such a standard celebration in Clear Lake, it’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since a small group of volunteers first organized an event as a way of addressing our lake water quality.

“Like national Earth Day, Clear Lake Earth Days began as an annual event because of ‘out of adversity comes opportunity,’” said Jan Lovell, who was the first chair of the event.  “Issues with our lake water quality had hit a low point.  Clear Lake’s water issues were regularly showing up in the headlines and it was having a detrimental economic impact on our community.”

Since 1997 Lovell has either chaired, or co-chaired Earth Day events with Deb Tesar.  Through the years they have seen the community buy into the idea that change is possible.

“Great progress was made when the city created the Lake Action Group, bringing all of the different groups which have jurisdiction around the lake together, in addition to private individuals, businesses, organizations like the Association for the Preservation of Clear Lake and the CLEAR (Clear Lake Enhancement and Restoration) project.

Lovell recalls a comment made early on which continues to drive her dedication to the Earth Day principles.

“One individual told me that ‘we won’t be able to make a difference’ in the lake water quality.  That was an eye opener - that someone would just give up on something as important as this.”

A community Earth Days cleanup was a tangible way to show appreciation and stewardship for what we have here, she said.

“I was on the Chamber Board and the Lake Action group, so it was a natural fit.  All kinds of folks felt the same way as the committee quickly had a broad cross-section of schools, the city, businesses, parks and recreation, DNR, CLEAR project, Central Gardens, Arts Center, library, community volunteers,” added Lovell.

Ron Andrews has served on Earth Day Committees from the beginning, first as a representative of the DNR.  “As a wildlife biologist and one who believes it is our responsibility to take care of natural resources, it seemed like a natural that I would be involved.  I lived and love natural resources and the planet Earth, which are inter-twined.”

Donna Dull is another charter member of the local Earth Day movement.  For many years the retired teacher relished the opportunity to return to the schools and greet youngsters as “Mother Earth.”  She was accompanied by Mike Mahaffey, who volunteered to play “Enviro King.”

Many volunteers have helped to shape today’s Earth Day celebration.

“We are so fortunate to have committee mem-

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