116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — In its first event since last year’s derecho, EcoFest is encouraging the community to plant as many trees as possible.
The event, to be held virtually on Saturday, will present speakers from several environmental groups and organizations before calling on community members to take action to better the environment around them by rebuilding the tree canopy and picking up litter.
“Post-derecho, the trash and tree situation (in Cedar Rapids) is terrible,” said Mike Wyrick, EcoFest Cedar Rapids board member.
Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday on EcoFest Cedar Rapids’ Facebook page and website, attendees can learn about tree replanting, derecho recovery, solar and wind energy, energy efficiency, the health benefits of getting out in nature, the importance of a clean environment and a tribute to local environmentalists. Videos will remain available online after the event, which is expected to last about 1.5 to 2 hours.
“We were hoping to do a live EcoFest this year because of all the tree canopy that came down,” said Wyrick, noting that EcoFest looks forward to hosting an in-person event in 2022. “There’s so much loss from the derecho, that at this point there’s nothing that means more to the environment than rebuilding that canopy. ”
Iowa lost 724,000 acres of tree canopy in the derecho — about 25%. Before the storm, Iowa had 2.9 million acres of tree canopy.
Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Wyrick said the event takes on a new importance this year.
“I think a lot of people not part of the normal pro-environmental choir witnessed the devastation. It was an all-consuming event for us,” he said. “As sad as it was, if there’s a silver lining to it, it’s the fact that it makes people aware of their physical environment and how important the trees were and how much we lost.”
Wyrick, who also serves as chair of the Cedar-Wapsie Group of the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter, said he hopes to focus as much muscle and energy as possible on tree replenishment.
In addition to the opportunity to replant trees with Trees Forever, the event will encourage attendees to clean up trash through the 1 Bag Challenge, through which residents can get a litter collection kit.
While encouraging residents cooped up over the pandemic to get out into nature, another overarching theme for attendees this year is the health of getting outdoors. Emilia Sautter, ecospirituality coordinator at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center, will speak virtually to attendees.
For the 2021 Virtual EcoFest, attendees will be able to watch videos produced by:
- Green Iowa AmeriCorps
- I-Renew (Iowa Renewable Energy Association)
- Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center
- Indian Creek Nature Center
- Sunrise Movement Cedar Rapids
- Linn County Sustainability
- Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District
- Wickiup Hill Learning Center
- Trees Forever
- The City of Cedar Rapids with City Manager Jeff Pomeranz
- Alliant Energy
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