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Nebraska, Iowa communities celebrate Earth Day with sustainability efforts

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 1:16 AM CDT
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VALLEY, Neb. (WOWT) - As we celebrate Earth Day, several new projects which aim to promote sustainability were announced throughout the area.

In Valley, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Valmont Industries, where a four-acre solar farm has come to fruition after nine months of construction, and three years of planning.

“It’s absolutely appropriate that we’re here during Earth Day to talk about the great work that our innovators and the folks that have conserved our environment have done here in Nebraska,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said at the ribbon-cutting.

The solar farm will produce 1.7 gigawatt hours of grid-independent energy, which will equate to 6% of the plant’s electricity needs. It’s one of the steps the manufacturing company is taking to be more eco-friendly.

“As we produce our own power and make it a cleaner way to do it, we help ultimately the entire state and the communities we live in,” said Stephen Kaniewski, president and CEO of the company.

And in Council Bluffs, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a new 14-foot wide multi-use trail which will allow for easier transportation across downtown.

Brandon Garrett, the Community Development Director says the trail will be within a half-mile of 30% of all Council Bluffs residents.

“What this provides is a safe and dedicated route for pedestrians to get to and from where they need to go and were also just a block off of our bus route so you can use this to get from your home or neighborhood and then easily access the bus route.”

While these big steps — easy access to transportation and solar farms — are vital to saving the planet, local environmentalists say small gestures, like picking up trash in your neighborhood and reducing your waste, goes a lot further than you’d think.

“It’s important to realize that we as a community can make a difference at an individual and a large scale,” says Keep Omaha Beautiful executive director Chris Stratman.

Stratman says there are many steps you can take to live a life that healthier for yourself, your community, and your environment.

“With a sustainable lifestyle, you can think of waste reduction, recycling, water conservation, energy conservation, active transportation, again, there’s a lot of different options and it can seem overwhelming but really targeting one or two is the most important thing to start with, something new,” he says.

Stratman says Keep Omaha Beautiful celebrated Earth Day with a ‘Love Your Block Litter Walk,’ and encourage community members to take action not just on Earth Day, but Everyday.

Earth Day Omaha is also celebrating the holiday all month long with the Earth Day Passport Program, which includes mini, social distanced in-person events, and opportunities to points and prizes.

Click here for more information on Keep Omaha Beautiful’s Recycle Right Campaign or the Omaha Zoo’s Tips on conservation for your home.

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