Parks


Today, due to the generosity of contacts at WWF in Hong Kong, we received a tour of Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong’s New Territories.   Mai Po is a large wetland reserve filled with very cool flora and fauna, and really is a bird lovers’ paradise.  Mai Po is protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and our visit was truly a treat.   We saw mangroves, traditional shrimp ponds, fish farms (right outside the reserve), and beautiful flowers, and, with fancy digital binoculars and scopes, saw beautiful birds: spoonbills, herons, egrets, and ducks.

Every year I take my Natural  Resources Law class for a guided nature walk and tour of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park located about 25 minutes south of Vermont Law School.  Here are some photos of this year’s excursion.

I’ve started watching the Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and today showed the first hour to my Natural Resources Law class.  The film brought to mind two initial thoughts.

First, after watching about John Muir, I considered all the environmentalists/conservationists/outdoorsmen from Wisconsin (where I grew up)–Muir, Aldo Leopold, Owen Gromme, Gaylord Nelson, and, of course, my grandfather Gerald Czarnezki (a proud member of the first graduating class of the conservation education program at the Central State Teachers College at Stevens Point, now UW-Stevens Point).   Of note, Wisconsin passed the Conservation Education Statute that required “adequate instruction in the conservation of natural resources” in order to be certified to teach science or social studies, and the state legislature also required that conservation of natural resources be taught in public elementary and high schools.

Second, it made me want to create a lists of national parks that I want to see for the first time or return to.  The list so far:

  1. Yosemite
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. Kenai Fjords
  4. Glacier Bay
  5. Return to Yellowstone and Grand Teton with family
  6. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
  7. Redwood
  8. Glacier

I’ll keep adding to the list, and will likely add more  once I finish the Burns documentary.  Please feel free to suggest some additions.  The Park Service does have an interactive map online.

Updated: I’ve added to my list– 9. Muir Woods, 10. Crater Lake, 11. Zion

I spent a summer in college with a National Science Foundation grant doing research in Yellowstone National Park under the guidance of scientists from the Great Lakes WATER Institute.  While most of memories are of doing science experiments late into the evening, many of my memories consist of park visitors doing very dumb things like hiking without a compass and getting lost and putting little kids on the backs of bison.  Apparently, according to this article, technology is giving park visitors more confidence to do stupid things.  Amazing.

We live in Montpelier, Vermont, and my partner is from Peaks Island, Maine.  When traveling between the two, it is clear that we are spoiled by the nature of New England.  From my backyard, I can see Camel’s Hump and the Green Mountains.  Driving east via Route 2, we drive past Groton State Forest, and into New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest where we recently saw a large black bear just west of Gorham, NH.  After following the lakes and rivers of Western Maine, we arrive at Portland’s Casco Bay for the ferry to Peaks Island.

Sunset from Peaks Island

Sunset from Peaks Island

Yesterday my family and I hiked up to the top of Big Deer Mountain in Vermont’s New Discovery State Park (which is in Groton State Forest), followed by swimming at Boulder Beach.  I’d highly recommend the hike for kids; mostly flat and dry followed by a fun uphill rock climb.

State Parks are a fantastic resource.  My Natural Resources Law course includes a lot of discussion about National Parks, and we have an annual field trip to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park in Woodstock, Vermont (the only national park devoted to America’s conservation history).  But this year, I’m going to spend some time on the development of state parks, and how states have determined how to best protect these resources and for what purposes.

In classic Vermont fashion, today we went to Wrightsville Reservoir with our new-to-us canoe and our new-to-us Subaru.  There has been much debate in Vermont of late about appropriate recreational uses for man-made reservoirs and ponds, especially if they are used as a source of drinking water.  Wrightsville has a no wake and swimming area which we paddled through, but the jet ski that arrived on the boat launch just as we were finishing really lessened our experience.  While allowed on that part of the reservoir, the noise, exhaust and smell were quite terrible.

Another fantastic reservoir in Vermont is Green River Reservoir State Park where you canoe into your campsite.  Power boats are banned and the shoreline is completely undeveloped.  “The Green River Reservoir is a 5,113 acre park including a 653 acre Reservoir with 19 miles of shoreline, which is the longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline in Vermont,” according to the Friends of the Green River.

Photo: Our Subaru and canoe on the Wrightsville Reservoir Boat Launch.

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