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Three Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

May event at Travilah Quarry to return; Lockhouse 8 River Center celebration precedes 2006 season.

Thirty-six years after Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, people in the Potomac area can choose from numerous local events on Saturday, April 22 — Earth Day proper — and in the following weeks. Below are a few such events:

TREE PLANTING AT NAVAL CENTER APRIL 29

The almost 15-year cleanup effort at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division is noteworthy for Earth Day.

The Navy has worked closely with the Maryland Department of Environment and the surrounding community throughout a phased removal of chemical and metallic contaminants at the Potomac site along the Clara Barton Parkway and MacArthur Boulevard.

As the end of the project approached last summer, the citizen advisory committee that has overseen the cleanup decided to hold a public ceremony where trees and shrubs would be planted around a wetland area that was once a landfill.

But the event was cancelled last July when Navy officials and conservation groups declared that the site was not ready.

The event has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 29 to coincide with Earth Day, which is April 22. Boy Scout Troop 706, Naval employees and members of the Carderock Restoration Advisory Board will plant native Maryland trees on a four-acre site from 9 a.m.-noon. Members of the public are invited to attend the celebration and to participate in planting new trees in the restoration area.

The event will include informational displays about Carderock’s environmental cleanup program and the importance of trees and watersheds to the environment. The wetland area will serve both as a natural security barrier for a section of the base and a habitat for birds and amphibians that will be visible from MacArthur Boulevard.

Because Carderock is a secure installation, cameras are not allowed and visitors must declare their citizenship and pre-register for the event by calling Ben Claus at 703-471-6405, Ext. 4603, or e-mailing him at Benjamin.Claus@ch2m.com.

IN 1991 NavSurf Carderock (then the David Taylor Model Basin) conducted a preliminary assessment of possible contaminated sites in response to federal requirements established in the 1980s. It identified nine sites that were contaminated or likely contaminated based on historical records and sampling.

Between 1991 and 1995 NavSurf Carderock conducted significant cleanups at many of the nine sites, culminating in the complete removal of the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated scrap yard. Then work stopped for six years.

But in 2001, Naval Facilities Command staff went back to the nine trouble spots to review the situation.

In the process, it found 42 new sites that posed possible hazards — like a former sewage treatment plant and a defunct pistol range that had left lead-contaminated soil.

After an initial review, 31 of the sites were cleared, and remediation work began on the remaining 13.

HOW TO ATTEND: Members of the public are invited to the tree planting at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division April 29, 9 a.m.-noon, but must pre-register by calling Ben Claus at 703-471-6405, Ext. 4603, or e-mailing him at Benjamin.Claus@ch2m.com.

Visitors enter through Carderock’s back gate (Gate 3), off MacArthur Boulevard. Parking will be available inside the gate. Cameras are not allowed.

To help with the planting, please wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Water and snacks will be provided.

EARTH DAY AT THE QUARRY

Quarry Earth Day, a Potomac tradition, skipped a year but it hasn’t missed a beat.

Last year, the annual fair and open house at Rockville Crushed Stone — also known as the Travilah Quarry — was postponed and later cancelled when the quarry’s owner was acquired by a Swiss company.

This year the free, annual open house and community fair returns.

The event will feature 20-minute narrated bus tours through the 450-foot-deep pit. Large earth-moving equipment and dump trucks will be on display and attendees can enjoy food, live entertainment, game booths, a giant slide and a petting zoo

There will be tables with information about recycling, composting and other Earth-friendly practices.

QUARRY EARTH DAY began in 1992, when Linda Readmon and Debbie Levi, then president and vice president of the North Potomac Citizens Association presented the idea to the quarry owners.

“It was to be a day to stop taking from the Earth and open its doors to the community in celebration of the Earth,” they wrote in a short history of the event.

Attendance has soared from 1,800 in 1992 to more than 4,000 in 2004.

The event is free but raises money through concession and T-shirt sales. All proceeds are donated to local elementary schools for environmental projects and to the Quince Orchard Library.

The event has raised more than $55,000 since its inception.

HOW TO ATTEND: Aggregate Industries invites residents to the Earth Day Open House at the Travilah Quarry, Saturday May 6, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The free event features quarry tours, games, food, displays, and contests. Proceeds benefit the Quince Orchard Library and local schools.

The Quarry is located on Piney Meetinghouse Road between Shady Grove Road and Travilah Road. Free parking is available.

For more information, call Debbie Levi at 301-294-6404, e-mail QuarryEarthDay@aol.com or visit www.QuarryEarthDay.com.

CONSERVANCY RIVER CENTER

The Lockhouse 8 River Center will open for its second season May 6, but visitors can get a preview of the Center’s offerings at an Earth Day celebration April 22, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The River Center opened its doors May 14 last year following a three-year restoration conducted jointly by the Potomac Conservancy and the National Park Service.

The lockhouse dates back to 1830, when it was first manned by a lockkeeper, who received $100 a year and one acre of land in exchange for being on hand around the clock to operate the lock.

It was abandoned around 1950 and had seriously deteriorated when the restoration began.

Now it features educational displays and hands-on exhibits concerning both the history of the lockhouse and the C&O Canal and the ecology of the Potomac River. It is a base for frequent Conservancy-sponsored evening and weekend programs such as bird-watching, nature walks, wildflower walks and cultural events.

Many of those same activates will be part of the Earth Day celebration, which begins with opening remarks by Conservancy President Matthew Logan at 10 a.m. and continues with a reptile display, a birds of prey display, live music, activates for children, food and lots of information about preserving the Potomac River watershed at home and throughout the region.

The river center is staffed during the spring and summer by volunteer docents who can provide information about local ecology and advice to C&O Canal visitors.

Earth Day visitors who appreciate the River Center’s mission can stick around for a 2 p.m.-3 p.m. orientation on how to become a volunteer docent.

The River Center will be open and staffed by volunteer docents on Saturdays and Sundays May 6 through Oct. 15 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day.

HOW TO ATTEND: The Potomac Conservancy will hold an Earth Day celebration at the Lockhouse 8 River Center Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The River Center is located on the C&O Canal towpath at Lock 8, which is accessible from two small parking areas on the Clara Barton Parkway and from the town of Cabin John.

Visitors driving toward Washington, D.C. on the Parkway can park in the marked parking areas for Lock 8 and Lock 10. From the Lock 8 area, follow the stairs down to the River Center. From the Lock 10 area, turn left on the towpath and walk about one-third of a mile to the River Center.

If those parking areas are full, additional parking is available at the shopping center at MacArthur Boulevard and Seven Locks Road. To get to the shopping center from Clara Barton Parkway, take the Cabin John exit, cross over the Parkway, and turn left onto MacArthur Boulevard.

From the shopping center, it is a one-half mile walk to the River Center. Cross MacArthur and walk down 79th Place. Turn right and pass underneath the Clara Barton Parkway, then walk to the end of Riverside Drive, where it becomes a dirt trail leading to the River Center.

For more information, contact Heather Montgomery, Conservation Program Assistant, at montgomery@potomac.org or 301-608-1188, Ext. 209.

Learn more about Earth Day at Lockhouse 8 and the Lockhouse 8 River Center at www.potomac.org.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

* 10:30-11:30 a.m.: See reptiles up close during a Scales & Tales presentation by Maryland Department of Natural Resources naturalists

* 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: See birds of prey up close during a Scales & Tales presentation by Maryland Department of Natural Resources naturalists

* 12:30-2 p.m.: Enjoy live old-time banjo music. Kids will enjoy a nature scavenger hunt, plant-your-own-wildflower project, catch-and-release fishing along the banks of the Potomac, and more. Master Gardeners will be on-hand to answer all of your questions about gardening, landscaping, and plants. Take part in a spring wildflower walk, led by volunteer naturalist Marijke Gate, to see spring flowers such as Virginia bluebells and Dutchman's breeches. You may even have the opportunity to see some less common species such as Twinleaf during this hands-on walk.

* 2-3 p.m.: Want to volunteer as a River Center docent? Attend an orientation to learn more.

* Throughout the day: Refreshments, courtesy of Whole Foods and Market on the Boulevard, a chance to learn about local ecology and environmental preservation and a chance to meet the Potomac Conservancy staff.