April is Earth Month : Margie B. Klein, nature blogger

Just about every plant and animal is out by April. From flowers to reptiles, the outdoors is buzzing with activity. So we should follow nature’s lead and get out, too. After all, April is Earth Month.  Earth Day, which is officially April 22, is being celebrated all month long.

Started by Gaylord Nelson in Wisconsin in 1970, Earth Day started as a grassroots movement that put environmental issues on the national conscience.  Since then, and celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, Earth Day has grown to become Earth Week, Earth Month, and an organization called the Earth Day Network. In 1990, the movement went global.  Now people around the world take this time to bring awareness of the environment’s importance to everyone from kids to retirees to businessmen.

The best way to celebrate the earth and nature is to get out and see it, be a part of it.  Here in the city, many things have already bloomed and fruit is starting to form on fruit trees.  It’s officially spring and a great time to take hikes and see what’s abloom in the desert, as this is the peak season for spring blooms. April is probably the best time to view them, unless you’re going to Death Valley, which will be hot already. Cactus flowers are coming into bloom and can be spectacular. The brilliant pink of the beavertail stops you in your tracks, but other prickly pear cactus types as well as cholla produce beautiful flowers in color ranges from yellow to peach to red. And don’t forget about Joshua trees. These yucca species produce giant lily-like flowers held on long spikes that stand tall over the landscape.

The temperature is still mild enough that animals can be seen during the daytime hours. The bighorn sheep and other desert animals are having babies.  Fish are more active in the warming-up water.  Lizards are busy scurrying about and birds are making nests. Insects are abundant and make a feast for many species. This time of year might be your last chance to see these things if you can’t stand the heat.

What else can you do outside?  Enjoy outdoor festivals, as well as farmers markets and concerts while the weather is nice.  Take the kids and go biking, fishing, climbing, or swimming.  (Check alerts at Lake Mead right now due to a toxic algae flare-up.)  Take a walk around any of a number of great parks around the valley. Or hit part of the Vegas Valley Rim Trail. This coalition has worked for years on linking up trails skirting the edges of town.  Neon to Nature has an app that will help you find the right one: http://www.gethealthyclarkcounty.org/neon2nature/.  Find out more at the public land websites like Mt. Charleston, Red Rock Canyon, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, and Nevada State Parks.  Keep up with outdoor events around the valley by following recreational groups on Twitter and Facebook. You can also find folks with the same outdoor interests on Meetup. Make your nature connection now.

Margie B. Klein is a freelance writer, nature lover, and retired environmental educator who’s lived in Las Vegas since the ’90′s. Follow her on Twitter @NatureWriterVgs.

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