Dr. Judy Meyer hauls debris off a state-owned shoreline on Lopez Island. (Photo by Gene Helfman)

Positive ways to make a difference this Earth Day


The theme for Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, is “Invest in Our Planet” — an environmental social campaign being celebrated across Washington and the United States on the day the spring equinox occurs throughout the rest of the world.

Earth Day — founded in 1970 with annual support from billions of people in more than 190 countries — is a day of education and a time to celebrate the achievements and raise awareness of the needs to protect the Earth’s natural resources for future generations.

Wildlife in Washington face a wide range of threats, from disease and invasive species to declining habitat and climate change. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is dedicated to conserving and protecting the state’s wildlife — including endangered and other at-risk species — from these threats.

Collecting trash and flotsam along the Washington coast at Griffiths-Priday State Park near Ocean Shores. (Photo by Debra Kerrigan)

Here’s a list of ways you can make difference on Earth Day as well as throughout the entire year!

Earth Day events happening across Washington — Do your part to give back, raise awareness or learn more about the environment by participating in a variety of activities on Saturday, April 22.

· Join the Washington Clean Coast Alliance, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation for the Washington Coast Cleanup, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., at Cape Disappointment, Fort Townsend, Fort Worden, Grayland Beach, Mystery Bay, Ocean City, Pacific Beach, Shine Tidelands and Twin Harbors. WDFW staff will be on hand for the Twin Harbors event. For details, visit CoastSavers.org. A Discover Pass is not required for vehicle access on state-managed lands on April 22 in recognition of Earth Day.

· WDFW staff is attending the Spring Fair at Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, a turkey mentored hunt camp in Eastern Washington, and at the grand opening of the Doris Morrison Learning Center in Spokane where you can learn more about Earth Day.

· Celebrate Earth Day with Seattle Parks & Recreation by joining the Environmental Sustainability, Education and Engagement Unit for fun activities. Click here for a flyer listing in-person activities.

· Coinciding on Earth Day is the statewide lowland lakes trout fishing opener so, if you plan to try your luck catching a fish be sure to do your part by keeping area lakes clean and free of trash. Bring along a compostable bag to pick up trash and/or recyclables that you find on the ground, shoreline or, in the water.

· You can find a list of Earth Day activities happening across the greater Puget Sound region by clicking here for details. Learn more and get tips on the “52 Ways to invest in our Planet” on the Earth Day webpage.

A volunteer helps out at a WDFW Hunter Education event at Camp Pigott located north of Monroe in Snohomish County.

Sign up to volunteer with WDFW WDFW welcomes volunteers who want to assist in activities that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. WDFW uses an online system to learn about volunteer opportunities and participate. This Community Event Registration and Volunteer Information System (CERVIS) tracks projects and volunteer hours. First, potential volunteers should register using a simple online form and then review the volunteer opportunities that are available.

Add a water source to your backyard or property — Birds need a safe place to bathe and drink to survive in the wild. Visit the National Audubon Society’s website for an easy do-it-yourself bird bath.

Bombus vosnesenskii (yellow-faced bumble bee) on Cosmos plant at Picardo P-patch in Seattle

Plant for pollinators — About 90% of all flowering plants and one third of human food crops depend on pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds. Unfortunately, the numbers of pollinators are declining due to habitat loss, disease, and excessive use of pesticides. By adding native plants, you provide food and shelter for pollinators, and make a difference to the pollinators and people who rely on them. Download the free planting guide based on your zip code from our friends at the Pollinator Partnership.

Avoid single-use plastics and recycle the right way — A lot of energy and non-renewable resources go in to creating plastic, which is often discarded immediately after use. Single-use plastics, whether from plastic water bottles to lunch wrap or bags, take anywhere from 20 to 1,000 years to break down. In addition, thousands of birds and marine animals are killed each year when floating plastic makes its way to the ocean and is mistaken for food. You can start having a positive impact today by simply cutting down your use of single-use plastics. One way you can do this is by using eco-friendly products such as reusable utensils, grocery bags, and sandwich bags are great alternatives to single-use plastics. Recycle the right way, means empty, clean, and dry and properly dispose of items that commonly harm wildlife such as fishing tackle, balloons, cans, elastic bands, and glass. Learn more about local recycle resources, Ecology’s study of plastic packaging in Washington, and practice recycling right with National Geographic’s Recycle Roundup game.

Keep an eye out for invasive Giant Hornets — Since the first report of giant hornets in Washington two years ago, the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Pest Program has been doing extensive research and planning to try and eradicate the invasive species from the state to prevent the negative impacts this invasive species could have on our environment, economy, and public health. Giant hornets attack and destroy honeybee hives.

While giant hornets do not generally attack people or pets, they can attack when threatened. Their stinger is longer than that of a honeybee and their venom is more toxic. They can also sting repeatedly. Learn how to identify a giant hornet on WSDA’s website. WSDA is enlisting the help of beekeepers and the public to trap and report giant hornets in Washington. WSDA is especially looking for people in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Clallam counties to trap giant hornets. Read their blog post for more details.

A group of youth tending to plants in a raised-bed butterfly garden.

Create your own Habitat at Home — Many acres of prime Washington wildlife habitat are lost every year due to housing and other developments. Do your part to curb this loss by creating habitat at home. Turning your yard, a garden container, school, or work landscape into wildlife habitat can make a difference. Learn how to be a habitat manager by making your property better for wildlife on WDFW’s Habitat at Home webpage.

Buy a Washington specialized license plate There are specialized license plates that support WDFW, Washington’s National Park Fund and Washington State Parks and Recreation. A part of the fee when you purchase a specialized WDFW license plate, goes to help WDFW identify and recover Washington’s endangered and threatened species. Plates can be purchased through the Washington Department of Licensing and carry an initial fee and renewal fee that varies by location and type of vehicle.

For the first few weeks of a fawn’s life, the doe keeps her fawn hidden for safety.

Know what to do if you find baby wildlife — If you discover a baby bird on the ground or a deer fawn alone in the grass, the desire to help is natural. Learn what to do if you encounter a wild animal that appears to be orphaned or injured, and whether it’s best to leave it alone or contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator on our April Showers bring May flowers — and young wildlife blog.

Don’t be a litterbug — When everyone does their part, we can keep Washington beautiful and litter free. When heading into the outdoors, make sure to have a container for collecting trash; bring a bag to pack out what you packed in; hold onto trash until you reach a waste receptacle; and safely secure your cargo on the road. When we all look out for each other, it makes a big difference! For details, visit the Washington Department of Ecology website.

Avoid using pesticides — Spring is a time to get outside and work in your yard. It’s also time to consider how to remove pests (problem insects, weeds, slugs and snails, plant diseases) with the least impact to fish and wildlife. You can use a variety of natural pest management tools to get the job done while protecting native pollinators. These include using ladybugs in your garden to eat pests like aphids, pulling weeds by hand, and leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Many resources are available to help you, including your local Master Gardner Program, the Xerces Society, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

WDFW Aquatic Invasion Species program staff are coordinating with the Bureau of Reclamation, Washington Invasive Species Council and others on Clean Drain Dry stations for boaters, including this trailered CD3 station.

Keep alert for aquatic invasive species (AIS) on watercraft — If you plan to put your watercraft, motorized or not, in the Snake or Clearwater rivers, or other bodies of water in the area, please have it checked or do your part to prevent AIS from entering Washington. WDFW and the Washington Invasive Species Council have partnered to offer “Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose” (CD3) stations at several boat launches in Eastern Washington, as well as a mobile CD3 unit available for events and fishing tournaments. To learn more or reserve a CD3 unit, visit this webpage. Learn more by going to the WDFW aquatic invasive species webpage.

WDFW staff conducting razor clam stock assessment using the “Pumped Area Method” at Long Beach on the southern Washington coast.

Consider a career with WDFW — WDFW has some of the most talented people in the natural resource field. We celebrate and value diversity, appreciating that a workforce composed of those from different backgrounds and experiences creates an inclusive environment, strengthens positive relationships with the local community, and brings new perspectives and approaches to fulfilling the agency’s mission. We offer a diverse range of job opportunities, whether you’re a biologist, law enforcement officer, administrator, recent graduate, or if you just share our passion for Washington’s wildlife. We operate six regional offices and numerous other facilities around the state, which means there’s a place for you no matter where you live in Washington. Visit the WDFW website to see job openings.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.