Home to a national marine sanctuary and paralleling the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef, the Florida Keys celebrate Earth Day with outdoor events and volunteer opportunities. Keys visitors will find meaningful activities to experience both before and beyond the April 22 global celebration.
Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, residents and visitors are encouraged to plant a tree at the Crocodile Lake National Refuge on County Road 905 at about mile marker 107.5 in Key Largo. Volunteers may rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-451-4223.
Celebrate the planet outdoors Saturday, April 12, during Key West's 18th annual Earth Day 5k Run/Walk starting at McCoy Indigenous Park, located at Atlantic Boulevard and White Street. The event is sponsored by Key West Southernmost Runners Club and organized by Marci L. Rose.
Earth-friendly recyclable awards are to be given to the top overall male and female, top masters male and female and first- and second-place runners in each age group ranging from age 9 and under to 70-plus. Additional awards await top 5k walk finishers.
Final registration and race packet pickup at the park is set for 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 11, or 7 a.m. on race day. The race begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 12.
Participants age 14 and over pay a $15 advance registration fee or $20 on race day, while participants age 13 and under pay $10 in advance or $15 on race day. Race T-shirts are to be given to the first 200 registered participants.
Proceeds benefit the Friends and Volunteers of Refuges organization. To register, visit www.active.com/key-west-fl/running/distance-running-races/key-west-earth....
For the 19th year, the 524-acre Bahia Honda State Park, located in the Lower Keys at mile marker (MM) 36.8, is to host its annual Earth Day Celebration Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The family-friendly event features live music by Bobby D and the No Slack Living Room Band in addition to a reggae band, the Irie Trio, a sand sculpture contest, fish printing, face painting, children's games and marine touch tanks.
Environmental exhibitions are to be presented by local groups including Marathon's renowned Turtle Hospital, Pigeon Key, the Florida Keys Astronomy Club and many more.
Bahia Honda's pristine expanse of sandy beach recently was named among the United States' top 25 beaches for 2014 by TripAdvisor, and also has been ranked among the United States' 10 best beaches
One of the Florida Keys' most popular camping and recreation areas, Bahia Honda offers deep near-shore waters for swimming and snorkeling as well as camping, picnicking, watersports, a marina and rental cabins.
Admission to the Earth Day event is free with regular park admission. For more information, call the Bahia Honda Sand and Sea Nature Center at 305-872-9807.
Boy Scout Troop 588 is fundraising for its Alaska trip in July and is hosting a Wildlife Encounter Saturday, April 26, from 1-8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, MM 93 bayside. Bob Freer and his Everglades Outpost Wildlife Show featuring alligators, turtles, snakes and more, a barbecue dinner and music by Las Cabrones are on tap. Tickets at the door are $15 for kids and $25 for adults, with a $5 discount if purchased in advance. Call 305-453-0067.
Visitors who want to do something good for the environment beyond Earth Day, and add an enriching element to their next Florida Keys vacation, can connect and get involved with voluntourism opportunities through www.keysvoluntourism.com.
The site provides direct links to a variety of Florida Keys charities, nonprofit organizations and foundations -- all dedicated to protecting and improving the quality of human and animal life in the island chain -- that are seeking volunteers.
Keys travelers can give back to the destination and its unique ecosystems with such activities as helping build an underwater coral nursery or planting corals on actual reefs, collecting reef fish population data, assisting with yard work or minor repairs at an outdoor tropical garden facility, feeding injured wild birds or mending their cages, cleaning or maintaining nature paths or trails, or even helping with fundraising events.