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In Los Alamos, Earth Day stretches into a week

For many communities, Earth Day is just that, a single day of action and celebration by giving back to the mother planet.

In Los Alamos, however, it’s a weeklong marathon of events sponsored by the Los Alamos Nature Center.

The week of events begins Tuesday at 7 p.m. with a free talk on “Ancestral Puebloan Fire Practices” by Tom Swetnam, a Regents’ Professor Emeritus at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona. Swetnam has spent his career studying changes in climate and forest disturbances using dendrochronology, science or technique of dating events, environmental change, and archaeological artifacts by using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in timber and tree trunks.

“He’ll discuss how ancestral pueblos populations managed to live in the forest without catastrophic fires destroying villages,” said Rachel Landman, marketing manager for Los Alamos Nature Center. “It’s a really fascinating presentation to learn how ancestral puebloans lived with fire in this area.”

Swetnam, who has worked extensively on wildfire history and ecology in pine and giant sequoia forests of the western U.S., Mexico, South America and Siberia, Russia, will focus on results from research aimed at reconstructing climate, fire and human population changes over the past 400 years.

On April 21, the Nature Center’s planetarium will debut its full-dome projector with the premiere of the film, “National Parks Adventure,” as the highlight of the annual Earth Day festival.

Narrated by Robert Redford, the power of America’s national parks is on full display in this large-format film, Landman said.

“We’re really excited to bring this film to the planetarium and to debut our 4K-projector,” she said. “It’s supposed to be really vibrant and plunging you into getting views that you wouldn’t see otherwise.”

Produced, directed and shot by noted large-format movie makers Greg and Shaun MacGillivray, the piece is their “most visually ambitious giant-screen film to date – a film that offers not only a sweeping overview of the national parks’ history, but is equal parts adrenaline-pumping odyssey and soulful reflection on what the wilderness means to us all,” according to movie’s website.

“Millions have packed up the family to hike through impossibly lush forests, to gaze upon towering cliffs and deep-plunging canyons, to witness the breathtaking arcs of natural history, and, most of all, to share moments of wonder amid the protected treasures of this land,” it said.

The 2 p.m. showing caps a day of free activities starting at 10 a.m. on the Nature’s Center’s grounds.

“We’ll have food, activities, informational booths,” Landman said. “This year we’re focusing on zero waste. Recycling and reducing impact through consumption.”

A naturalization ceremony will kick off the day, followed by a ribbon cutting for a tree house in the nature play area the likes of which are seldom seen.

Kevin Kinane – also known as Recycleman – will have two appearances at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., showing off his musical instruments developed from found objects. His hands-on shows are always a hit with children, Landman said.

Among the other highlights of the festivities is a recycled fashion show utilizing materials from people’s trash.

“We’ll show you how you can take upscale material that otherwise would end up in landfills and make outfits,” Landman said.

Kids will enjoy an interactive nature mystery with Roady and Bugs and the band Wisefool will play at noon.

Because the center’s parking lot will be crowded with booths, entertainment, activities and food, attendees are asked to walk, bike or park at the Justice Center (across from the library) and ride the special Atomic City Transit bus straight to the nature center.

Earth Week wraps up April 22 with another free work day as crews attack Graduation Canyon and the Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail.

“First, we’ll be pruning Pueblo Canyon Rim trail, and down the switchbacks into Graduation Canyon, stabilizing and closing switchbacks shortcuts,” Landman said. “We’ll also be gathering trash and removing the invasive elms trees.”

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