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A Little Pretty Please

Mother Nature just wants to be appreciated. Here are ways to make Earth Day a success.


Mother Earth scores big time this year.

With Earth Day falling on a Wednesday, Orange County groups have opted to spread the festivities over two weekends. The following is a partial list of coastal cleanups, community fairs, hikes and other activities designed to encourage the public to appreciate Mother Nature's beauty while learning to preserve and protect her for future generations.

Beats the heck out of a Hallmark card, we say.

FRIDAY * High-tech, low-tech, no-tech; thousands of displays and activities created by O.C. kids will help teach sensible use of nature's resources at "The ABC's of Agriculture," part of the three-day 1997 Youth Expo at the Orange County Fairgrounds. The annual event includes interactive entries, a science and engineering fair, an insect and reptile show, livestock exhibits, talent shows and a food bazaar.

88 Fair Drive., Costa Mesa. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. and Sun.. Free admission and parking. (714) 708-1520.

SATURDAY * Pull weeds, pluck litter and plant shrubs and trees at a cleanup in Canyon Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Participants can then enjoy refreshments, live entertainment and prizes at the park. Canned food donations to the Orange County Food Distribution Center are also welcome.

970 Arbor St., Costa Mesa. 9 a.m.-noon. Free. (714) 754-5140.

* March for Parks, organized by the National Parks and Conservation Assn., helps raise funds and appreciation for parks and open spaces. There will be two March for Parks events Saturday:

Guided hikes (3 1/2 miles) sponsored by the Laguna Canyon Foundation and Laguna Greenbelt Inc. start at 8, 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. The hikes are of moderate difficulty and will include access to areas not yet open for recreational use. A $20 fee includes the guided walk, bus transportation, parking and a T-shirt; reservations required. 20101 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. (714) 855-7275.

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy activities include docent-led nature walks, environmental-themed displays, live music, children's nature crafts and Dr. Sue's Insect and Arthropod Zoo. No registration fee, but walkers are asked to secure at least $20 in pledges (families can walk for a $20 pledge or donation). Advance registration required and the event is open only to registered walkers. Check-in is 9 a.m.; walks leave every 10 to 15 minutes between 9:10 and 10:10 a.m. On Ortega Highway, 5.1 miles east of Interstate 5. (714) 489-9778.

* Mom Nature will be feted with folk tales, ranger-led hikes and nature-themed games and activities at the 3,100-acre O'Neill Regional Park's Earth Day celebration, which also features information booths, storytelling, original artwork of the canyon area and live music.

30892 Trabuco Canyon Road, Trabuco Canyon. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (714) 858-9365.

* "Take out the papers and the trash. . . ." Well, you won't get no spending cash, but you will get the satisfaction of knowing Orange County's beaches will be safer, cleaner places for the animals, plants and humans that hang out there after Saturday's countywide Volunteer Connection Day. Beach cleanup volunteers of all ages are encouraged to grab a bag and lend a hand. Here's a sampling of the locations:

Dana Point: The Doheny Longboard Surfing Assn. sponsors its Sixth Annual Earth Day weekend cleanup at Doheny State Beach, Dana Point Harbor Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. 9 a.m.-noon. (714) 661-1218.

Newport Beach: The Newport chapter of the international Surfrider Foundation will host beach cleanups at the Santa Ana River Jetties, Big Corona and Newport Pier. 8:30 a.m.-noon. Supplies provided and prizes awarded. (714) 631-6273.

San Clemente: The San Clemente chapter of Surfrider is asking people to spend an hour cleaning up litter along the city's coastline. As at the other Surfrider-sponsored events, volunteers will be handing out free trash bags, disposable gloves and a questionnaire to help track the trash problem. In San Clemente, look for their booth at the foot of the pier (at the end of Avenida del Mar) and at Trestles beach parking lot, Cristianitos Road and El Camino Real. 8 a.m.-noon. (714) 492-8170.

Other Surfrider cleanups will be held in Laguna Beach on Main Beach (PCH and Main Street) and at Huntington Beach Cliffs (Goldenwest Street and PCH). 8:30 a.m.-noon. (714) 631-6273.

SUNDAY * Wind willing, the skies over Peralta Canyon Park will be dotted with colorful, fluttering kites. The demo is one of the highlights of "Colors of the Wind," the seventh annual Environmental Faire for families at this grassy Anaheim Hills park. Also new this year: an "Earth Wise" obstacle course in which participants master challenges that "represent the wisest use of our resources and health choices," said coordinator Cathy Glasgow.

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