Blaine will be holding its first Earth Day event at Lochness Park on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.

The idea for the event "really came from the residents" on the Natural Resource Conservation Board (NRCB), said Shari Kunza, program supervisor with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, which is holding the event in conjunction with the NRCB.

Participants will help with garbage pickup at the park (bags and gloves provided) followed by refreshments and fun, including sidewalk chalk art projects for kids. Nature walks will be guided by Mary Jo Truchon, a naturalist with the Wargo Nature Center and a member of the NRCB, which is a resident advisory board to the City Council.

"You feel like you're in the country when you're there," Kunza said of the 90-acre park, with its picturesque pond.

Everyone's invited to bring plastic bags to be recycled, too.

Organizers are hoping for good weather and a respectable turnout for their first event. "I would be ecstatic if we have 100 people," Kunza said.

OTHER EVENTS MARKING EARTH DAY OR ARBOR DAY IN THE NORTH METRO AREA INCLUDE:

SATURDAY

Help clean up the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park as part of an Anoka County project from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. More than 200 volunteers have turned out to participate in the cleanup in past years. Families or groups of friends and neighbors are asked to call 651-429-8007 to register.

Afterward, people are invited to the Wargo Nature Center from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. for free, family-oriented activities including a petting zoo, crafts, and exhibits on Earth-friendly practices and products. The Nature Center is in the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park Reserve at 7701 Main St., Lino Lakes.

The Windego Park Society will hold a maple tree planting to mark Earth Day and kick off the group's Clean & Green Festival. The tree planting begins at 10 a.m. at Peninsula Point park, four blocks south of downtown Anoka. For more information on the group's events, visit www.WindegoParkSociety.org or call 763-225-0473.

Join hundreds of volunteers from 10 cities in the seventh annual Great Shingle Creek Watershed Clean Up to pick up pieces of litter, small and large, from the banks of Shingle Creek. The weeklong cleanup will involve cities in the Shingle Creek and West Mississippi watersheds: Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Crystal, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, New Hope, Osseo, Plymouth and Robbinsdale.

The official cleanup event to mark Earth Day is 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Trash bags and cotton gloves will be provided that day at the Brooklyn Center Community Center, 6301 Shingle Creek Pkwy. Coffee, juice and pastries will be served from 8:30 to 9 a.m. To participate as a group or as an individual, call Jenny Whiting at 763-569-3380. For more information on the event, go to www.shinglecreek.org/getinvolved.shtml.

SATURDAY, APRIL 26

For the fourth year, the cities of Fridley and Spring Lake Park are holding a Yard and Garden Get-Together from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Fridley Community Center, 6085 N. 7th St.

Experts will be on hand at booths to discuss rain gardens, yard care and water conservation strategies. The first 30 people will receive free Blue Sky Guides, with coupons for local eco-friendly businesses. Free rain gauges will be given out, and people can enter for a chance to win a compost bin. In the past about 200 people have attended. For more information call Rachel Harris, Fridley's environmental planner, at 763-572-3594.

The city of Coon Rapids' annual tree sale, in celebration of Arbor Day, will be held in the Public Works Garage, 1831 111th Av. NW.

Each household is limited to two trees, which must be ordered in advance. The trees range in price from about $16 to $45.75. The species available are: prairiefire crab, spring snow crab, shademaster honeylocust, autumn blaze maple and emerald lustre maple. For more information or to place an order, call the city forester at 763-767-6455. The trees much be planted on the same day, so contact Gopher State One Call at 651-454-0002 by April 23 to have utility lines located on your property before you dig.

KATHLEEN CLONTS