Update April 21: Concerned Citizens of Montauk has decided to cancel the Great Montauk Cleanup that was set to be held on Saturday, April 25.

“In light of recent reporting of overcrowding at local beaches and parks, we believe it is of the utmost importance to encourage everyone to better adhere to stringent social distancing guidelines for the benefit of public health and safety,” said CCOM in a press release Tuesday. “CCOM hopes to schedule another community cleanup event later in the fall.”

Original Story Follows:

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is this coming Wednesday, April 22, and while it’s a stretch for many of us to express gratitude now for a planet that seems indifferent to the fate of the humans trapped here, Earth Day has never had more true resonance than now.

The East End is usually filled in these late weeks of April with outdoor group celebrations of Earth Day, often the first time that neighbors get to go outside and see one another after a long winter.

The holiday was founded by U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who came up with the idea after witnessing a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969.

At the 2019 Great Montauk Cleanup | CCOM photo

He was inspired by student movements at the time and hoped to involve activist youth in developing a public consciousness about air and water pollution. 

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10 percent of the population of the United States — took to streets and parks across the country to share their desire for a sustainable environment.

While environmental groups have been planning major celebrations of this milestone anniversary all year, Covid-19 has scrambled many of these plans.

But much of what we appreciate about nature is the chance it gives us to be distant from the social strictures of our modern world, and introspection on the Earth’s role in sustaining humanity may be just the right medicine for today.

And it is also a reminder that the environmental organizations that we depend on to protect our wild places are as fragile as the nature around us, and they need our help to continue their work once we’ve put this pandemic behind us.

Here are a few alternate ways that environmental organizations are now choosing to celebrate Earth Day:

Virtual 5K for NFEC

The North Fork Environmental Council has postponed its annual Earth Day 5K run and walk due to Covid-19, but the environmental organization is asking residents to take a walk and email them a photo and a description at office@nfec1.org.

They will post the photos received on Facebook as a tribute to the North Fork environment, and later this spring will be asking residents to contribute $10 toward their scholarship fund, which is usually supported by the 5K.

“We’d love to share your experiences and will post as a tribute to the North Fork environment,” according to the NFEC. “In these challenging times, it’s good to know that nature can heal, nature can restore and also act to bring us together.”

Great Montauk Cleanup is On!

The Great Montauk Cleanup, scheduled to be held April 25 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, is a great place to help Mother Nature while staying socially distant from other humans. So, the Concerned Citizens of Montauk are going ahead with this annual event.

This year, you will need to provide your own bags/buckets – and be sure to wear protective gloves. When you are finished, dispose of the trash in the dumpster provided by Mickey’s Carting in front of the CCOM office at 6 South Elmwood Avenue.

CCOM is asking all attendees to maintain social distancing guidelines and participate on your own or with those whom you have been quarantined ONLY. If you have been diagnosed with or experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, stay home!

More details are online here.

QWR’s Virtual Earth Week

QWR Virtual Earth Week
QWR Virtual Earth Week

The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is hosting online Earth Day programs on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube all week long in a Virtual Earth Week celebration, with programs ranging from wildlife drawing and recycled art to making soap and growing microgreens to identifying invasive species, learning about pollinators, encoraging water conservation and reducing your carbon footprint.

Seatuck’s Eco-Carnival Goes Digitally into Second Decade

The Seatuck Environmental Organization is holding a Digital Eco-Carnival all day long on Saturday, April 25 on its Facebook page.

The event will include favorite activities from the organization’s decade-long Eco-Carnival, including hands-on nature explorations, nature-based games, live music, a live animal show and fun and backyard/neighborhood activities for children of all ages. The only thing they can’t re-create online is the food and ice cream.

Here’s the full schedule of the day’s events. 

Beyond the Earth

If you’ve had enough of the situation on this planet, that’s ok too. There’s plenty to celebrate in outer space this week.

April is Global Astronomy Month and Monday begins International Dark Sky Week (which some celebrate by turning off exterior house lights at night).

The Hamptons Observatory (formerly the Montauk Observatory) suggests visiting the following organizations to learn more and/or attend free virtual events:


Also this week is the Lyrid Meteor Shower, whose peak coincides nicely with Earth Day on April 22.

“As with all meteor showers, the closer to dawn, the greater the number of meteors will be visible,” says Hamptons Observatory Executive Director Donna McCormick. “The Lyrids may appear from April 15 to the 30th. Typically, 10 to 15 meteors per hour may been seen around the shower’s peak, but Lyrids are known to have hard-to-predict outbursts that bring the rate up to 100 per hour and can include fireballs. The meteors are debris from Comet Thatcher and may appear in any part of the sky. The moon will only be about 1 percent full at the peak, which will improve viewing.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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