Speak for the Trees — that’s the theme of four separate events planned for this year’s Earth Day celebration in Fayetteville. The Omni Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology, along with Omni UA, the Sierra Club and other environmental activists are joining forces to bring you four informative and entertaining Earth Day events focused on an appreciation of trees.
Proceeds from this year’s celebration will benefit a precious tree species that used to be very common in the Ozarks but almost disappeared some 50 years ago — the Ozark Chinquapin. Not to be confused with the common Chinquapin Oak, it is a Chestnut tree that bears a delicious nut coveted by humans and animals alike. Sadly, most of the trees were wiped out in the ’50s and ’60s by blight.
However, there are very encouraging efforts to develop a blight-resistant strain that could return the Ozark Chinquapin to the region. All of our Earth Day activities this year will help fund the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation’s ongoing efforts.
Here’s a rundown on the four events that comprise Speak for the Trees. We will kick it off on Wednesday with a historic tree presentation from two regional tree experts at the Global Campus (on the Fayetteville square, 2 E. Center St.). At 7 p.m. Burnetta Hinterthuer, professor of biology at NorthWest Arkansas Community College, will give us a rundown on old growth and “Champion” trees of Northwest Arkansas. Following this, Steve Chyrchel, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area interpreter, will give an overview of the Ozark Chinquapin and describe exciting new opportunities to participate in restoring this tree to the Ozarks.
The next weekend, from1 to 5 p.m. April 15, Omni will host its annual Earth Day Birthday Celebration at the World Peace Wetland Prairie. It is a charming outdoor family affair with an acoustic song circle, children’s activities, nature walks, opportunities to help tend the gardens and more. The prairie is located at 1121 S. Duncan Ave. (between MLK Boulevard/Sixth Street/U.S. 62 and Hill Avenue, and 15th St.)
On April 21 (Earth Day Eve) is the gala event you won’t want to miss. The evening starts at 7 p.m. with a social hour/art opening at the Global Campus where folks can get their first peek at the 50 “Tree Shrines.” Fifty area artists were given a blank paper “shrine” as a starting place to make a tribute to trees with no other rules.
Donna Stjerna and Kelly Mulhollan created the shrine blanks from homemade paper made out of their junk mail. They will all be sold by silent auction, and bidding will start during the social hour.
Following the social hour/art show, the folk duo Still on the Hill will host a Concert for the Trees in the Global Campus theater adjoining the art show. The duo will debut a collection of new tree songs written by Donna Stjerna of Still on the Hill just for this occasion. Other guests include Laura Kelley and Dan Dean, Guy Ames, Geoff Oelsner, Ginny Garber and more. Following the concert, there will be another chance to bid on the Tree Shrines before the auction is closed.
The final event is called “Picture Day in the Park” and will be a family event from 1 to 3 p.m. on Earth Day (April 22). There is an old Bois d’Arc tree in Wilson Park that’s a famous backdrop for countless pictures known as the “Picture Tree” (close to the Prospect and Woolsey corner of the park). Kirk Lanier will take photos, and kids can even have their portraits taken with “Mother Nature.” There will be a tea party for kids and more. It is a great way to spend Earth Day with a grand old tree and friends.