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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Jared Kistler, 9, searches for frogs to scoop from the wetlands at the Earth Day celebration Sunday at Eagle Marsh.

Observing Earth Day in nature

More than 300 attend events at Eagle Marsh

– A small crayfish was about finished with 8-year-old Collin Cronk on Sunday, but Collin was not yet finished with the small crayfish.

“Look! It doesn’t pinch!” Collin said to his brother, Logan, as he swung the crayfish by its claws.

After another minute of forced acrobatics the crayfish struck quickly, delivering a pinch that landed it back in its bucket.

Collin and his family were among more than 300 people Sunday who celebrated Earth Day at Eagle Marsh, a 716-acre nature preserve in southwest Fort Wayne near Engle Road. The event, sponsored by Aqua Indiana and Little River Wetlands Project, featured workshops on birds, pollution and water conservation, among other topics.

Collin and other children kept busy by dipping nets into the pockets of water in the preserve. When they caught something, a naturalist would help them identify it.

The celebration also included tree planting, information booths from Science Central, Acres Land Trust and other groups and an appearance by a hybrid Citilink bus.

Elsewhere in the area, Save the Maumee conducted its seventh annual Earth Day celebration Sunday on the banks of the Maumee River. Volunteers planned to take trash out of the river and plant trees on its banks.

Organizers said they hoped the new event at Eagle Marsh would draw attention to the preserve, which was established in 2006 on former farmland that regularly flooded.

The marsh is home to 11 miles of trails and at least 207 bird species, according to Sean Nolan, executive director of the wetlands project. Since the preserve’s founding, he said, volunteers have worked hard to grow native plants and remove invasive vegetation.

“Earth Day is a wonderful way to showcase all of the work that’s taken place here,” Nolan said.

Collin, a proud owner of two cockroaches, one turtle, two frogs, two fish and one dog, said he thought celebrating Earth Day was important.

“It’s the Earth’s birthday,” he said, adding it should be celebrated because “it’s really colorful and it has all of these living animals.”