By Greg Kowalski
Sustainability Studies Inter, Rum Village Nature Nature Center
I believe that my internship at Rum Village Park is contributing to sustainability in a small way. I think that by helping to maintain the three miles of hiking trails that are used by the public, as well as for educational purposes, it keeps them in good shape. This in turn allows the naturalists at the park to teach kids of all ages just how important it is to respect nature and our planet. They teach kids of all ages, and if they can relay to them just how important the woods here are, as well as everywhere else in the world, then maybe they will grow up and join the fight to help save what forests we have left. This in turn may lead them to the path of being sustainable. I have also talked to the naturalists about possibly including something about sustainability or about what being sustainable is in some of their future presentations, I am hoping that maybe together we can come up with some age specific information that could be easily passed on.
The Natural Step USA lists four principles of sustainability and I would like to address the second one here. It basically states that we should reduce or eliminate manmade compounds, such as plastics, and try and replace them with naturally occurring compounds that will break down in nature, not stay with us for thousands of years, and to use what we do have more efficiently. I think what I am doing fits well into this principle. Much of what I am doing is working on the trails, while there is some grass mowing and other general maintenance going on, the bulk of my time will be spent in the woods. I will start clearing some trees that have come down across the trails next week, and the trees and pieces cut out to clear the trails will be left to naturally decompose giving much needed nutrients back to the forest floor. They will also provide shelter and possibly even food to some of the smaller animals in the woods. There will also be trail trimming and widening so that people can access the trails easily and stay on them, rather than having to venture around stuff and disrupting the natural habitat. The biggest project will be rebuilding the boardwalk areas over some of the wetlands that are there, some of the bases have begun to rot into the swampy ground. These will be removed and replaced so that people of all ages will be able to enjoy the wildlife and the area around these wetlands, the old wood will be left to naturally decay the rest of the way. While it may not be a huge sustainability project, it is something, and if we all do just a little we can make our planet a better place.