Destruction Takes Many Forms

When we think of the word destruction, we may think of bombs, or riots, or natural disasters. But it can also be much more subtle. But still destructive. Lochwood Park has many plants and animals that make their home there. On the west side of the park, people have made many trails, and cut down trees, and destroyed much of the natural habitat that has existed there. But the east side of the park has been less visited, and therefore fewer people have worn out the paths and cut down trees and bushes. But in the past weeks, someone or some group, has changed this.

The east side of the park has always had trails. And at times dirt bike riders have come in and widened the trails and dug jumps and generally left trash and made a mess. I have spent hours trying to repair that damage in years past, and for the most part, it was healing. A number of branches had fallen near and over the path in the last year or so, and this was helping to cut down traffic.

But recently the paths have been widened enormously and bushes have been cut down, and logs moved, and trees cut down, and somehow the paths have been made into wide avenues. This has a devastating effect on a number of things:
– it increases soil erosion because there is no ground cover to slow water down.
– it damages the trees whose roots are exposed to much more damage as people walk over them.
– it leads to even more traffic and therefore dislocation to the animals who live in the park.
– it damages the trees and bushes alongside the trail.

I don’t know if this is the result of vandalism or someone trying to make the paths look “nicer” but either way, the damage is the same. It had taken years for the east side of Lochwood Park to recover from all the bicycle trails worn though it. But it was healing. Now it will take more years for the park to heal from these wide ‘avenues’ that have been cut through it.

If someone feels they must cut paths, please do it on the west side. But really, this is a city park, and not someone’s private garden, so why be doing this at all? There are already too many trails there, but at least it will keep the damage in one area. As it is, now the east side looks more and more like the west side, and soon both sides will be worn out.

I think there is something else at work here, possibly. Two different aesthetics, if you will. Some folks like everything neat, and mannerly, well-groomed. Nice wide paths with nothing to make one have to slow down, or stoop, or move to one side. Nature well-trained, and well-tamed. In short, a garden. Gardens have their places, but when we try to make wild places like gardens, we rob ourselves of what nature is supposed to be. When Thoreau said “In wildness is the preservation of the world” he meant that term “wildness” literally. Nature is not well-mannered, not tame, not for our convenience. When we make roads through the wilderness, it does make it possible for more of us to see it. But if everywhere has roads, the wilderness ceases to exist.

And so, too, even little city parks. If it is all wide and neatly cut back paths, it ceases to be natural. It becomes someone’s idea of a controlled, convenient, garden.

I think that may have happened here. I am for a natural part to the park. I realize it is good to have small paths through it, so that people can see the park. But when you widen them into broad avenues, it ceases to be a natural park. It becomes just another well-maintained remnant of somewhere that was once natural. I hope that whoever chose to do this thinks a bit more deeply about the effects of their work. It will take all of this year for the superficial damage to heal. And far longer for trees to regrow. And that is only if whoever did this stops doing any more. Please, think about all the other people who use and enjoy this park, as a park.

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