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Investing in our planet: Earth Day at Fairhaven Park

Community members join forces to improve habitat and water quality at a local work party

Participants in the Fairhaven Park clean-up work to remove invasive plants around the Padden Creek area on April 23. Community members from across the county came to invest their time in the park. // Photo by Jenelle Baumbach

Members from throughout the community came together at Fairhaven Park for a work party on April 22, as a part of the city’s efforts to celebrate Earth Week.

Globally, the 2022 theme for Earth Day was “Invest in Our Planet.” 

One hundred eighteen Whatcom County community members showed their commitment to the pledge by showing up to the work party ready to get their hands dirty. 

The event was made possible by the City of Bellingham in coordination with various non-profit organizations and clubs.

The co-presidents of the Rotaract Club at Western Washington University, Lily Storbeck and Zachary Connor volunteered alongside others.

“Investing in our planet invests in humans,” Storbeck said. “This is our greatest resource and it's the backbone of everything we value, we have to protect it.”

The work consisted of removing large plots of English Ivy and other invasive plants from areas around Padden Creek. Over the duration of the work party, areas that were once swamped with the invasive ivy plants became uncovered and ready for tree planting.

The Whatcom Million Trees Project was one of the organizations involved in facilitating this event, aided by their commitment to protecting and planting trees across the community.

“All this site preparation work that we do and the city does is an important piece of it,” said Michael Feerer, Executive Director of Whatcom Million Trees Project, “Because the glorious moment of planting a tree is only ten minutes of what can be months of work beforehand.”

The event occurred outside the typical tree planting season, which usually occurs throughout the fall months. 

The city and other main organizers mentioned plans for future work parties in the Fairhaven Park area with the intent to plant trees where invasive ivy was removed. 

Along with this work party, the City of Bellingham put on several other events for Earth Week, many geared towards educating the public on how to do good for their community and environment locally.

“There is both a place for awareness and action,” said Stefanie Cilinceon, environmental outreach and education specialist for Bellingham Public Works. “In order to want to protect something, it's helpful to already appreciate it.”

Cilinceon explained that the event was an opportunity to both benefit water quality, local wildlife and salmon species as well as provide the public the ability to invest their time back into their community and environment.

As a business and sustainability major at Western, Connor emphasized the importance to him of investing in the planet.

Fairhaven Park Clean Up - 2 of 2

As the event progressed, large swaths of invasive English Ivy were removed from Fairhaven Park. // Photo by Jenelle Baumbach

“It's a way to bring our community together across different groups and do good for the community and make the place more beautiful,” Connor said.

Both action and educational based aspects are equally important to help mobilize and inspire a generation to pledge to invest in our planet, according to local leaders, including Feerer. 

“I see all the time at work parties people come up to me and tell me that this is something that is building up a sense of hope in them instead of despair,” Feerer said.

Mayor Seth Fleetwood volunteered alongside community members for the work party and delivered closing remarks that promoted the Earth Week events as well as current and future efforts to implement sustainable infrastructure in the city.

Jenelle Baumbach

Jenelle Baumbach (she/her) is the city news editor for The Front this quarter. She is a senior studying political science and news/editorial journalism. Her past reporting broadly covers local politics, the city council and community interests. In her free time, she enjoys looking at maps and meandering around antique stores. You can reach her at or at

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