Are we, as communities, contributing to the eco-health or demise of America’s landscape?
While participating in a series of Community meetings related to the reclassification of wetland areas from ‘flood plain’ to ‘hazard area’, I listened as person after person described significant change in the quantity of their area’s flood waters, areas flooding that had never flood before; and even, not once or twice but numerous times, raw sewage seep into surrounding creeks, streams and rivers. So, as the present-day caretaker for a ‘generational family owned property’ once labeled the Bolton Estate located in Henrico County Virginia, I am alarmed.
When stable, our property’s wetland area serves as a host site for a variety of wildlife, ranging from fox to the American eagle. In fact, historical records indicate the area’s central lake to be a natural pool; but overtime, it was first extend to support more than 500 acres of agriculture activity and a second time, to support outdoor active recreation facilities. Nevertheless, due to the impact of present-day urban/suburban sprawl, the area is no longer usable for fresh-water recreation. So, you see, I share with the wildlife a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the impact of 21st century urban/suburban runoff and pollution. I’ve watched a so-to-speak pristine spring-feed wetland become a dumping ground; yet, it remains one of the few community green corridors – habitats.
Insufficient water run-off retention compounded by flood waters channeled into the wet-land through a storm water system contributes to eroding sand and silt as well as pollution in the form of trash, debris, toxic chemicals and even discarded objects such as a road construction barrel. On the other hand, this area similar to other areas does not have to remain a dumping ground, a hazard area.
There are alternative land use strategies which will not only recover but prevent negative eco impact. First and foremost, there is – related to this property - a County of Henrico sponsored creek restoration program. Still, for it to work effectively, other strategies need to be implemented; for examples, a rethink of how land is developed, use of ‘green build’ construction alternatives; and perhaps, more importantly, individual awareness of the eco-consequences of present-day life-style choices.
So, as a present-day caretaker for property directly impacted by urban runoff and pollution, I’ve taken steps to enable personal awareness. I’ve sought out and participated in the County of Henrico’s Master Gardener and state of Virginia’s Natural Resource Leadership Institute programs, attended landscape design courses and workshops related to stewardship and environmental land use; and, am presently participating in a pilot program - Climate Academy sponsored by the National Conservation Training Center. To further insure eco stability of my family’s generational property, I’ve solicited a national habitat designation for the property and acquired an open space preservation easement.
Having made a commitment to CARE – have a perspective of conservation, accountability, recovery and eco-efficiency, I identified and solicited assistance with stabilizing the area’s eco-health; but I’m only one person, one resident. So, while I cringe at the fact we have labeled 21st century green spaces hazard; perhaps, it is an excellent first step. It should be the beginning of an evangelistic awakening: a challenge for all to focus on implementing forms of green land use that not only lessen the impact of urban/suburban development but recover the eco-health of our communities.
In early 2013, members of the Global and National Climate Change Academies are scheduled to release eco research compiled by member national and global scientists. Then, elected National representatives are legislatively required to review this research and enable eco regulation. Individually and collectively we have a pivotal opportunity: the option of choosing to implement green land use strategies which enable eco-healthy landscapes or continue down a path of present-day techniques which contribute to the decline of community eco-systems.
Recovering our Nation’s ‘hazard areas’ – green space corridors, will require the joint effort of all: elected and appointed representation, land use development professionals, governmental regulation and of course, regional businesses and residential communities. So, join the effort - recover your community’s eco health! For my area - Henrico County, governmental contact information is located on the County's web site government option. Identify your area representatives and solicit their eco support, too.
Together, let’s make a commitment to ‘green’ America’s landscape - move ‘hazard areas’ from eco-weak to eco-chic, create a legacy of eco healthy urban, suburban as well as rural green spaces. And, perhaps one day, the birds will look down and think, ‘Whew, those humans, they had a close call; but, thankfully recognized the error of their ways!’For details of Wright's activities, visit web site TheWrightScoop.