Earth Day started in 1970 thanks to former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. Nelson had been concerned for years about the growing issues of deteriorating environments and thanks to a 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA, felt the need to take severe action to the next level. What ensued was the largest protest in United States history in 1970 with the first-ever Earth Day. Since this day, every year since on April 22nd has been coined, Earth Day. A day dedicated to the support of environmental protection. And now, in the year 2023, the theme for 53rd Earth Day will be “Invest in Our Planet”.
Often times we take for granted what living in an environmentally conscious community can be like, but in this blog, we plan on showing you how Spearfish maintains that lush green we all love in the Spearfish Canyon, or the clear, fresh water that flows through the Spearfish Creek, or even how the bees thrive at our local university and help the pollen population. Happy Earth Day from the team at Visit Spearfish!
Tree City USA
Spearfish is a lush town that is the gateway into the Black Hills National Forest. The trees of the Black Hills give this unique town our identity. A fact that many people, locals, and visitors alike, may not know about Spearfish, is that Spearfish is a national member of the “Tree City USA” initiative. The Arbor Day Foundation created this program with visions of a greener, healthier America very similar to Earth Day initiatives. To qualify as a Tree City the community must maintain a tree board or department, have a community-tree ordinance, and spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry. Spearfish has qualified as a Tree City for over 33 years. Following these steps highlights the conscious effort that the community of Spearfish and the City Government officials have placed into sustainability in this town.
Bee Campus USA
At our local university, Black Hills State University, the concept of going green is not new. The Sustainability Department at BHSU is famous for its litany of programs that are geared toward making the campus (and community) a better, cleaner place. Some of these programs include a recycling plan, being a Tree Campus USA like Spearfish is a Tree Town, and the usage of solar panels for solar energy. However, none are quite as unique as BHSU’s title as a Bee Campus USA. What instigated BHSU’s involvement with the national organization was a sudden decline in the pollinator population nationwide. Despite the honey bee not being native to the Black Hills, sustainability staff at the university are able to create landscapes where pollen can be created and bees can thrive. The reason pollen is so vital for our ecosystem is that pollinators are what helps grow the food to which the world eats. BHSU is making an impact by creating a haven for the bees and pollinators.
Spearfish Creek is arguably one of the most remembered and recognizable features of the town for many reasons. Due to the agricultural advantages and supply that the creek offered to the town it was a no-brainer to settle a community around this vital piece of nature in the mid-1870s. Local author and historian Paul Higbee has even coined this creek the “Lifeblood of the Valley”. Yet aside from the practical advantages the creek offers, it is also a way of recreation. You will find people fishing in the creek for trout or floating in the creek on a warm day.
This is one of many examples of how Spearfish coincides with mother nature. The Spearfish Creek is something enjoyed by everything. Once the creek flows through Spearfish and offers people recreation and support it drifts on down to Spearfish Canyon where it becomes a vital natural habitat for most wildlife in the Black Hills, like the American Dipper, a small bird that is only native to the Spearfish Canyon.
Make sure you get outside this Earth Day and enjoy the natural wonders that Spearfish has to offer and remember to invest in this planet, and community. We are so fortunate to have so many ways to enjoy mother nature in Spearfish and we all have to do our part to make this last forever.
Happy Earth Day!