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Earth Day 2009 Gives Californians Reason To Celebrate

April 22, 2009

Californians have a little more "earth" to celebrate today, on this Earth Day. The state has more than 700,000 new acres of public land, part of recent legislation to create more than two million acres of federally protected wilderness, nationwide. President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act less than a month ago.

Doug Scott, policy director for the Campaign for America's Wilderness, was one of the organizers of the very first Earth Day, 39 years ago. While the environmental movement wasn't born on April 22, 1970, Scott notes, the need for conservation took a huge step forward that day.

"We couldn't imagine that the first Earth Day would become as huge an event that involved millions of people. We had to run to keep up with the incredible outpouring of concern around every kind of environmental issue."

One of the themes of this year's Earth Day is the power of an individual to affect change, something Scott says he has witnessed, firsthand.

"I have seen this so many times in my work - that ordinary people, everyday people, who simply roll up their sleeves and decide to get involved in our democracy, can really make a difference."

The momentum created on the first Earth Day never really dissipated, adds Scott, citing politicians from both sides of the aisle who responded by creating the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, all in the 1970s.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA