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Earth Day in Bozeman celebrates wildlife

Earth Day exhibitors were set up in the ballroom at the Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture in Bozeman
Olivia Weitz
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Earth Day exhibitors were set up in the ballroom at the Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture in Bozeman

Approximately 1500 people came to see talks, art, exhibits, and more at the Gallatin Valley Earth Day Festival in Bozeman. This year, it celebrated and supported wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Festival Founder Anne Ready said this year was the best turnout for the Earth Day celebration since organizers began having it in Bozeman in 2019.

“I always really enjoy seeing all the kids come in with their parents and all those kids are so excited and they really, really enjoy all the activities for Earth Day and that always makes me happy to see all the joy and excitement,” she said.

One of the approximately 40 exhibitors at Saturday's event, the Sacajawea Audubon Society, focused on sharing ways to help make Bozeman more bird friendly.

Up to a billion birds a year in the U.S. die from window collisions. At the Audubon Society's booth, Conservation Co-Chair, Paulette Epple, showed people bird safe windows that make glass visible for birds.

“And in this case, this is a very simple system. We take a white paint pen, it’s actually permanent white paint, and we mark our windows with a ruler or a straight edge of some sort and every four inches we do a vertical stripe on our windows,” she said.

Epple says there are also ways to make Bozeman’s parks and backyards more bird friendly.

“Plant native plants, plant little groves, plant habitat for birds and for pollinators because birds feed their youngsters insects all through the summer,” she said.

Epple says a lot of bird habitat in Bozeman has been lost to development.

Funds from the Earth Day 5K run this year is supporting a 40-acre wetlandthe Sacajawea Audubon Society is restoring in East Bozeman.

Barbara Phinney, a member of the non-profit Garden Club of America, underscored the importance of planting native plants to help support birds and insect populations in the Gallatin Valley.

“Well they are important for birds migrating in, they are generally going to flower and be available at the same time migrating birds come and they are easier to maintain. They are easier for insects to get into to reach the pollen,” she said.

Garden Club of America (GCA) has been working across the nation to spread the word about the importance of native plants. GCA collaborated with the Montana Native Plant society and in April announced that Montana was the latest state to proclaim April as Native Plant Month. A poster with details of the proclamation was included at the entrance to the Emerson on Saturday.

On a grassy patch outside of the Emerson, The Buffalo Field Campaign advocated for more wild bison habitat in Montana and Wyoming.

Jackson Doyel, a wildlife biologist with the Field Campaign, says the organization is also trying to generate support for building a wildlife crossing for bison on Highway 191 near West Yellowstone.

“Because 13 bison got hit this year by one car. We already are at 22 hit on that road… so we want mitigation measures, so one of the things I’ve been working on is to promote and advocate for those mitigation measures whether that is a bridge or wildlife detection systems,” he said.

Other organizations used art to celebrate Earth Day.

The Executive Director of Mountain Time Arts, Francesca Pine-Rodriguez, who is Apsáalooke/Crow and Tsitsistas/Northern Cheyenne, was excited to share about an art exhibit that was unveiled on the pedestrian walkway to city hall.

 Inside the Emerson Ballroom where the majority of the exhibits were set up, three-year-old Miles Guenther used markers to color a rainstick. The art could be used to make sound as part of a participatory element for a public artwork Mountain Time Arts unveiled on Earth Day.
Olivia Weitz
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Inside the Emerson Ballroom where the majority of the exhibits were set up, three-year-old Miles Guenther used markers to color a rainstick. The art could be used to make sound as part of a participatory element for a public artwork Mountain Time Arts unveiled on Earth Day.

Revitaliseʌᴉʇɐlǝɹ (Revitalize Relatives) encourages the community to reflect upon the Indigenous history of land and water in the area.

“We are trying to connect people back with the water that literally flows through downtown Bozeman. Some people don’t even know it’s there because it’s covered up. We’re just posing the question of what if the relatives of Bozeman Creek were revitalized and the relatives being the flora and the fauna and the keystone species of Bozeman Creek.”

Pine-Rodriguez added that on Earth Day she hoped people took a moment to appreciate and connect with the area’s land and water and think about how it can be protected.

“What would a healthy, thriving Bozeman Creek look like? It’s fun to imagine that, and I think when you start to imagine that you start to realize how unnatural the way things are,” she said.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.