Monday, July 21, 2014

Riverfest takes an educational tone

Annual event preaches conservation, environmental responsibility

June 21. 2014 11:18PM
By James O’Malley


• Sunday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

River Trip — Wilkes-Barre to Hunlock Creek (8 a.m. - 2 p.m.)

Dragon Boat Races — Dragon Boat teams will race on the Susquehanna River


Mostly sunny skies and a high of 82 degrees should keep the Dragon Boat teams sweaty even between heats.


More Riverfest 2014 photos, Page 3A.

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KINGSTON — Rock and roll blasted from the bandshell and that staple NEPA aroma of potato pancakes and cotton candy wafted around Nesbitt Park, but some educational things were happening under the big tent, too.

Nature enthusiasts distributed information and engaged festival goers about the importance of conservation and environmental responsibility Saturday, the second day of Riverfest 2014.

The event’s focal point crossed the Market Street bridge from River Commons to settle in Nesbitt Park, leaving plenty of room for groups like Sandy Goodwin and David Fisher of the Greater Wyoming Audubon Society to set up shop. From their table, covered in books about birds, they spoke to anyone who would listen and gave away a few kinds of plants in exchange for a donation of any amount.

According to Goodwin, all the plants they were distributing were native to the area. Native plants, she said, better support the local ecosystem and especially bird populations by attracting the bugs birds eat and providing safe places for them to nest.

They gave away a range of trees and bushes, including dogwoods, Douglas firs and a few berry-bearing plants.

Goodwin explained how trees also play an important role in curbing and preventing flooding. They consume and retain “immense” amounts of water she said. Deforestation leaves water with no option but to swell streams and rivers as runoff, she added.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago,” Goodwin said, quoting a proverb posted on her stand. And the second best? “Now!”

The Greater Wyoming Valley Audubon Society conducts bird-walks in Kirby Park at 8 a.m the fourth Sunday of every month.

Outside another corner of the tent sat a green Subaru hybrid SUV emblazoned with swirling decals promoting “outdoor ethics.” Roland Mott said he and Danielle Rowland — Subaru/Leave No Trace Travelling Trainers from Leave No Trace, a Boulder, Colorado-based educational nonprofit — live about 250 days a year in that car, travelling the country delivering their message.

He said the duo, and a handful of other teams like them, try to instill a simple message: “Hey, this is our land.”

Not taking care of it, he added, is “like shooting yourself in the foot.”

The materials the two distributed included stickers asking people to follow bigfoot’s example and, as the organization’s name says, leave no trace of your time in nature.

The group promotes seven principles for outdoor ethics, which seem like common-sense, but go a long way when applied, Mott said.

Find more information about Leave No Trace at

Riverfest 2014 concludes today with the Dragon Boat team races. The races begin at 9:10 a.m, when King’s College takes on Wilkes University. The 11 teams continue racing throughout the day with a final event at 2:30 p.m. between the teams with the day’s two best times. A new race begins every twenty minutes until the 12:30 p.m. lunch break.


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