“Bringing Nature Home” is Maine Audubon’s new community engagement and habitat stewardship initiative based on the bestselling book of that title by Doug Tallamy. Join Maine Audubon’s Director of Education, Eric Topper, to explore the plants, practices and perks involved in restoring native food webs in our gardens, yards and communities. Courtesy photo Eric Topper

SOUTH PORTLAND — Earth Week 2020 isn’t completely canceled for the South Portland Land Trust, as the organization has partnered with Maine Audubon for a remote presentation on invasive species as well as a remote film screening.

On April 23, the day after Earth Day, a remote meeting will take place with Eric Topper, education coordinator of Maine Audubon, leading a presentation about invasive species, called Bringing Nature Home.

Robert Rottkov, the president of the South Portland Land Trust, said that the presentation will begin at 7 p.m. A link to the meeting will be posted to the SPLT’s website, the Maine Audubon’s website, and both groups’ Facebook pages.

“Like many places, the landscape of coastal Maine has changed dramatically,” said an event description Topper provided. “Today, gardens, yards, neighborhoods, and towns are playing increasingly critical roles in supporting native food webs for birds, pollinators and other wildlife. Our individual efforts to support wildlife can be both intimately rewarding and broadly beneficial.

“With an overall focus on Maine birds and their habitats, Eric Topper, Director of Education for Maine Audubon will introduce what individuals and groups can do, including what plants to choose and how to manage and maintain our gardens for their full ecological function and benefit. Topper will also discuss the large selection of beautiful native flowers, shrubs and trees we can incorporate into our yards to attract and support a multitude of birds, butterflies and other interesting native wildlife.”

Invasive species can be found on private property, said Rottkov. This prevents the allowance of sharing shrubs or plants as the spread of parasitic species is an issue.

“Bringing Nature Home is Maine Audubon’s community engagement initiative around restoring native plants and wildlife food webs,” Rottkov said in a written statement. “The initiative, named and modeled after the best-selling book of that title by University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy, studies the number of insects attracted by various plants and trees common in urban and suburban landscapes with a focus on birds and other wildlife which depend on insect abundance and diversity to thrive.”

Maine Audubon and South Portland Land Trust will co-host a remote film screening on April 22, Rottkov said.

“Last year, South Portland Land Trust hosted a public film forum as part of our first ever Earth Week,” he said. “Just when it looked like we would need to cancel all of our 2020 programs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Eric Topper, from Maine Audubon suggested this exciting alternate plan.”

South Portland High School students, the public works department, and the South Portland Land Trust planted 14 trees on the school’s campus last year for Earth Day, said Richard Rottkov, land trust president. The land trust and city were planning another tree planting, but it has been canceled this year. Courtesy Richard Rottkov

On top of these two remote events, the SPLT is sending out a newsletter series called ‘7 Ideas, 7 Days,'” he said in an email.

“Our seven days worth of Earth Week messages will support specific environmental themes each day,” Rottkov continued. He said that one of the days will teach members how to build a birdhouse.

Rottkov said that this year, the land trust is asking people not to engage in an Earth Day cleanup, as worries about the spread of Covid-19 remain. The Earth Day cleanups have taken place for the past 22 years.

“We’re not asking people to engage in (group) cleanups,” he said. “If they’re (cleaning) on they’re own property, I think it’s OK. If people are on other people’s they could catch something. It’s a bit sad because Earth Day Cleanup is our signature thing. To not have that in some fashion is a bit of disappointment.”

Even though many outdoor activities are canceled, people should still try and get outside for some exercise and fresh air, while maintaining physical distances from others, said Rottkov.

Trails haven’t been closed yet, he said. A trail cleanup can’t be organized this year, but people can still get out and enjoy the trails that South Portland has to offer.

“This is an opportunity for people to learn about our trails,” Rottkov said. “They’re not as risky or dangerous as public parks.”

Details about the Bringing Nature Home event can be found at southportlandlandtrust.org/upcoming-events/bringing-nature-home. The website’s homepage will also have information on how to get involved in the remote Earth Week.

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