Celebrate Camas-Washougal history on Earth Day

Earth Day began more than 40 years ago with a group of people who had a passion to do right and make the world a better place and prosper environmentally for generations to come.

Today, decades later, that passion is still evident — particularly in the Pacific Northwest — as hundreds of different Earth Day activities have been planned. Millions will participate.

In Camas and Washougal, Earth Day has extra-special meaning. Denis Hayes, a Camas High School graduate, coordinated the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. At the time a student at Harvard University, he left school when Sen. Gaylord Nelson asked him to help. The inaugural event included an estimated 20 million people at locations around the world.

Hayes went on to found the Earth Day Network, and currently chairs the board of the international Earth Day Network and the Earth Day 2010 Global Advisory Committee. In Camas, he is honored by being the inspiration for Hayes Freedom High School.

So, with local history in mind, there are many opportunities for area residents to get their hands dirty for a good cause, by participating in several planned Earth Day activities this weekend.

From the Port of Camas-Washougal levee and beach cleanup Friday at Capt. William Clark Park, and an invasive weed cleanup at Hathaway Park along the Washougal River on Saturday, to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ organized effort to plant native vegetation at the Washougal Oaks Natural Area, also on Saturday, there is no shortage of chances for people to invest a little time and make our Earth a better place.

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