MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Misawa base residents have a chance to do something good for the planet during a series of Earth Day activities on base and in local communities throughout the spring.

Kicking off this year’s environment-friendly events is the 9th Annual Baby Salmon Release on March 19, in Shimoda Town about six miles south of the base.

About 300,000 to 400,000 salmon fingerlings are to be released into the Oirase River about two miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean. The event helps maintain the northern Japan salmon population. River siltation keeps the fish from their ancestral spawning ground at the Oirase River headwaters near Lake Towada, said Paul Teasley, Naval Air Facility Misawa’s environmental department director.

The baby salmon are bred from adult fish captured in Shimoda Town’s November salmon festival. Teasley said the Japanese government funds a protected growing area for the salmon until their release. After the 2½-inch-long fish are released into the river, they’ll eventually make their way downstream to the Pacific Ocean, Teasley said. There’s no way to determine how many fish make it to the open ocean, but “the government of Japan has confirmed that the mature salmon population has increased over the last few years” in northern Japan, Teasley said.

Residents of Shimoda, Kamakita, Misawa, Towada and other neighboring towns are to release the salmon in buckets starting about 9:30 a.m. Participants then may attend a cultural potluck with giant sushi rolls at lunchtime. Americans are asked to bring a dish to share. “What we try and do is make opportunities for base residents to get out and mix with the local population in situations where they might not normally feel comfortable,” Teasley said.

Those interested should call the Family Support Center at DSN 226-4735.

With Earth Day on April 22 and Japan’s Green Day on April 29, Teasley said base officials decided to spread environmental activities throughout the year, noting he works closely with Brent Hefty and Takeshi Ukon of 35th Civil Engineer Squadron and Family Support Center’s Anne Turnbull in coordinating the various environmental events.

Other Earth Day/Green Day activities this spring

Misawa Fish Port Cleanup, April 16: Help local residents pick up trash along Misawa city’s fishing port and then enjoy a picnic with hamburgers, hot dogs and clams on the shell.Coloring Contest, April 21-29: First-, second- and third-grade pupils at Misawa are to draw pictures conveying the Earth Day theme. The artwork will be on display at the base exchange April 21-29.Misawa Artifacts Display, end of April (exact dates to be announced): Misawa city will bring a display to base of artifacts uncovered on base from a 4,000-year-old village. The materials, including pottery shards, clay pieces and wood charcoal, were unearthed about two years ago during a construction project near the base fire-training pit. Teasley said the display will be the first time the artifacts have been displayed on base.Oirase Gorge Clean-up, May 14: Misawa residents, with Towada City college, local schoolchildren and several agricultural agencies, plan to clean up a section of the Oirase River Gorge about 30 miles from base.Call the Family Support Center at DSN 226-4735 for more Earth Day event information or to sign up for one of the trips.

— Stars and Stripes

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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