Congratulations to the Falmouth Town Council for resolving on Jan. 13 to join the Earth Day Network. Falmouth has benefited hugely from Earth Day, which launched the environmental movement and marks its 50th anniversary on April 22, 2020.

In 1970, bald eagles were rare in Maine and none nested in Falmouth. The pesticide DDT had made all their eggs crack. Empty bottles and cans littered Maine roadways. Air over the Maine Turnpike was toxic with lead from vehicle emissions. The Presumpscot River at Middle Road failed to meet even Class C water quality standards and it smelled of sulfur. The oxygen count was zero and no fish swam in it.

Earth Day 1970 launched the national Clean Air and Water Acts and their amendments, which Sens. Edmund Muskie and George Mitchell supported, and President Richard Nixon signed. The ban on DDT and the bottle bill followed as well. Today 734 pairs of bald eagles nest in Maine, including one pair on Clapboard Island. A statewide system for recycling bottles and cans cleaned up our roadways. Airborne lead has fallen 99%. The Presumpscot River at Middle Road usually meets Class C standards and it no longer smells. Alewives swim up to Highland Lake in May.

Earth Day has been doing good things for Falmouth for 50 years. That’s why the council voted for Falmouth to join the Earth Day Network, along with cities and towns from Annapolis, Maryland, to Anchorage, Alaska. From April 22 to May 23, Falmouth Earth Day activities will include science, education, action and volunteerism, from planting over 200 trees to starting a solar farm on the former landfill. Thank you, Town Council and town residents, for your support. A calendar of opportunities and activities will come out in March.

Susan Gilpin