By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Fifty years of celebrating the planet. April 22, 2020 marks a major Earth Day anniversary. It’s a day that was expected to bring about rallies but instead brought peace and quiet, among other things.

Video shows coyotes in the Bay Area, bears taking back Yosemite National Park, and sea lions having a heyday in Sacramento.

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As people stay home, more wildlife wanders out. It’s just one sign of the times. But there are several others, too.

“On my bike rides, I’ve noticed more people on the bike trail than ever before,” Derek Byrnes said on his morning run.

That means fewer cars on the road and folks like Harvey Munoz have noticed the impacts.

“We do notice the sky looks clearer, Munoz said. “I can see there’s no measurable difference between (the water) and the blue in the sky.”

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The Sacramento skyline is easy to see. Our air, environmental experts say, is better to breathe right now.

Jared Blumenfeld, Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency said a lot has changed in a matter of six weeks.

“The health of the environment in California is actually doing pretty well because we’re staying at home,” Blumenfeld said.

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You can compare the data on the Spare the Air website. The region’s ozone amount sat at 47 in 2019. But according to the 2020 numbers, as of Wednesday morning’s 11 a.m. data, the ozone amount was at 26.

It’s a big stride in a small amount of time and one Blumenfeld hopes keep momentum after the order is lifted.

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“We’re in danger of slipping back to those times when we had bad air pollution,” he said. “That air makes us more susceptible to COVID-19 and other diseases.”

But this new normal — where many of us work from home — is something he expects to stick around.

“We’re going to come out of this hopefully stronger, and really thinking about doing things differently,” Blumenfeld said.

But just how likely is it to stay when the world opens up again?

“I guess if there’s a way to do that – but shutting everything down is going to cause pollution to go away,” Munoz said.

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Only time will tell.

Heather Janssen