Today is Earth Day. How will you celebrate?

Today is Earth Day, an annual day of support and advocacy for our planet. The first Earth Day was held in 1970 and founded by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. Senator Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. More than 170 countries celebrate Earth Day across the globe and monumental environmental legislation has been passed on Earth Day, including the 2016 Paris Agreement, a landmark greenhouse gas emissions mitigation agreement that has been signed by 195 countries. In June 2017, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement.

Many communities celebrate Earth Week from April 22- April 26; hosting educational seminars, trash pickups and other events celebrating environmental protection. The events are too numerous to name here, so check in with your community to find local events or organize an impromptu Earth Day event of your own.

Renowned climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

The bodies of three professional climbers were found yesterday after they went missing in an avalanche in Canada’s Banff National Park. David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjorg Auer were reported missing last Wednesday. Park officials searched for them by air and discovered “multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment.” The men were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak, an extremely difficult climb. All three men were accomplished climbers represented by the outdoor brand North Face.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denies eastern hellbenders protection under the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have decided that the eastern hellbender, the largest aquatic salamander in North America, will not be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The agency says that the news is positive and that most species of the hellbender are not in threat of extinction, including hellbenders found in North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The agency has proposed that the eastern hellbender population in Missouri be listed as an endangered distinct population segment.

Advocates for the hellbender say that the ruling does not go far enough to protect the fragile species. Hellbenders are sensitive to declining water quality and are considered a “bioindicator” of overall habitat health. Once common in mountain waters, the species has been in sharp decline because of poor water quality and overall habitat degradation. In North Carolina, they are listed as a species of special concern on the state’s endangered species list.