Stepping out in nature has sustained us during this past year of holing up in our homes and avoiding social contact.
On April 22, you have the opportunity to officially pay homage to Mother Earth and observe Earth Day at dedicated events and on your own at Southwest Florida’s wealth of green spaces.
You need not limit your celebration to one day; April is filled with special opportunities and enviable climes. Here are four ways to celebrate Earth Day this year.
Score some fresh air and green scenery as you join the collaborative effort to circumnavigate the planet. In its third year, it challenges you to log your miles as you contribute to a goal of at least 24,901 miles — the distance around the equator. (In 2019, participants collectively logged nearly 26,529 miles; more than 51,000 in 2020.)
Participation is free, or you can opt to register for paid packages that include a T-shirt, medal and package of wildflower seeds.
¦ Earth Day at the Refuge: Sanibel Island, April 22, 472-1100, dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/events.
While most events and observances these days Zoom through our lives, Earth Day at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge returns to the promise of free in-person tours and other activities outdoors, with safety guidelines to ensure distancing.
Admission to Wildlife Drive is free that day to all cyclists and pedestrians (vehicle entrance is $10). Each of five tours and two outdoor paint-alongs is limited to 10 participants, who must pre-register at dingdarling.eventbrite.com. Tours include biking, birding and a Mindfulness Walk at Bailey Tract. “Ding” Darling’s 2020 Artist in Residence, Rachel Pierce, will conduct “paint a spoonbill” activities.
The refuge will debut its new Junior Ranger booklet that day for families to complete on their own (no pre-registration needed). All participants receive a coupon for 10% off in The Nature Store at the refuge.
¦ Sea Turtle Program: Fort Myers Beach, April 23, floridastateparks.org/ parks-and-trails/lovers-key-state-park
What better way to celebrate the beauty of our nature than at the beach? Lovers Key State Park ranks as one of the area’s top beaches, but also boasts a lot for wildlife watchers to check out. On April 23, attention turns to its lovable and fascinating sea turtle population. From 10 to 11 a.m., learn about their lifecycles and nesting rituals, which take place every summer on this beach. The program is free with paid admission to the park: $8 per vehicle of two to eight people, $4 for single occupant, $2 for cyclists, pedestrians, and extra passengers.
¦ Take a Hike: throughout Lee County, 533-7275, leegov.gov/parks.
Trails throughout the parks and preserves of Lee County provide an on-your-own opportunity to worship nature, get in some steps, and find peace of mind. Some of the favorites for hiking include the boardwalk at Six Mile Cypress Slough and John Yarbrough Linear Park, both in Fort Myers; and Caloosahatchee Regional Park’s rugged trails in Alva. ¦
— For more information about nature attractions and special events around The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, visit FortMyersSanibel.com.