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Importance of Keeping Community/Outdoor Areas Clean

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 7:00am

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today, we're talking about the importance of keeping your community and outdoor areas clean. Hello. I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Beth Baker, Mississippi State University Assistant Extension Professor.

Beth, when we talk about community and outdoor spaces, what locations, exactly, are we talking about?

Beth Baker: We're really almost talking about anywhere. Sometimes when people picture our communities versus outdoor spaces, they think about those two things separately, but really, our communities are part of the environment, and they're really connected with all of the natural spaces or rural areas around them. So we're really talking about almost anywhere.

Amy Myers: Anywhere outdoors. Like rivers or parks or streams, creeks that we may play in; anything like that?

Beth Baker: Right.

Amy Myers: What are some examples of events we can participate in that help clean up rivers and streams and other outdoor areas?

Beth Baker: One great example is the Pearl River Clean Sweep event, and that happens every year. It's just a way for volunteers and community members to get out in those rivers and streams and help remove trash from them. So in 2017, when they did this, there were over 1,000 community volunteers that picked up almost 37,000 pounds of trash.

Amy Myers: Wow.

Beth Baker: So you can have a small idea, and it can have just a huge impact.

Amy Myers: What exactly is the importance of getting involved in events like this, for the environment?

Beth Baker: These events are so important for educating community members, especially our children who are going to be our future leaders. But it's also great for creating healthy and beautiful communities, bringing community members together, creating family friendly events, and taking the burden off keeping our cities clean from our local governments, which can save tax dollars and provide more money for our other community needs and projects. So there's so many benefits when community members get involved.

Amy Myers: By cleaning up after ourselves, we are actually helping ourselves.

Beth Baker: That's right.

Amy Myers: And of course, if we did what we were supposed to do and threw our garbage away in the first place, we wouldn't have to have events like this. But with all of that said, why should we protect our water resources? Why should I care about that?

Beth Baker: There's so many reasons. Rivers provide drinking water as well as food, through the wildlife and fisheries they support. They're still transportation routes, and sources of water for manufacturing facilities and energy producers and hydropower dams. And rivers even draw wildlife lovers, anglers, hunters, fishers, all of that. They're also these robust recreation sources, and can support ecotourism and padding. Just a great place for people to decompress from our really busy lives.

And in addition to all of that value, there's a real economic value there, too, which isn't always at the forefront, and people don't always think of. But especially, even here in Mississippi, there was an economic profile done by the lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee, and that report on 10 river-related economic sectors was found to generate $151.7 billion in annual revenue and employ 585,000 people.

So public lands along the lower Mississippi River can include ... There's about 30 National Wildlife Refuges, and those are found to help generate $1.3 billion in annual trip expenditures for just fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching. So there's so much value in these resources.

Amy Myers: So we should really remember to keep them clean and not throw garbage out in the woods or in rivers or anything like that. We really need to stay tuned for environmental cleanup events. Are there any coming up?

Beth Baker: The Coast Cleanup Program down on the Mississippi coast does an annual event, and they have that annual event coming up October 20th. So that's their big one. They've even added a 4th of July event to that program this year that myself and my students participated in, and I think they even added monthly cleanups on the beach. Which, of course, you know, down on the beach, people are using it constantly. It's a main source of economic revenue for those communities, so it's really important to keep it clean.

And then there was another on-campus event coming up through the Soil and Water Conservation Society, MSU student chapter, and they're going to be doing an on-campus stream cleanup with students here on campus to raise awareness about the stream that runs right through our campus.

Amy Myers: That's at Mississippi State University's campus?

Beth Baker: That's right. It's also October 20th, I believe.

Amy Myers: Okay, October 20th.

Today we've been speaking with Beth Baker, Assistant Professor. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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