Hundreds of Flagstaff locals gathered together at Bushmaster Park on the east side to celebrate the 49th Earth Day Saturday morning. Local conservation groups, outdoor clubs, political activist groups and forest service representatives had tents set up with various activities while local bands played music. Mayor Coral Evans and Council Member Jamie Whelan also attended the festivities.

Whelan explained that she loves Flagstaff because of the commitment many have to the environment.

"This community is so vigilant, to the point where even if I am making a mistake, people will call me out on it," Whelan said.

The celebration of Earth Day is not only important to help educate people about environmental issues, but also to celebrate the beautiful planet we call home, according to Evans.

"We take time to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, things like that, so why not take time to celebrate the Earth," Evans said.

Others had a variety of reasons they celebrated Earth Day. Mark Alexander of Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance said he was involved in conservation efforts for his grandkids.

"My concern is the health and welfare of my grandchildren," Alexander said. "We know scientifically the effects of what's happening now and we can predict, pretty closely, what will happen in the near future, but it seems things are accelerating on the negative side."

Volunteer for the American Conservation Experience Shaun Gitlin explained that he thought it was important for young people to get involved.

"I think it's important for our youth to go out and volunteer, especially on Earth Day, because what happens now will trickle down to future generations," Gitlin said.

Coconino National Forest ranger Kevin Lehto also believed that getting young people outdoors is important because getting kids connected with the outdoors is key to getting them interested in taking care of the outdoors.

"We want to build a connection between the outdoors and today's youth," Lehto said. "For us to remain relevant, we want to maintain that connection with the youth."

An Earth Day clean up event will be held Monday, April 22, as locals are invited to go to Lululemon, located on 516 North Humphreys Street, at 4:00 p.m. Locals will be able to carpool up to the Observatory Mesa for a clean up.

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