Thursday, April 30, 2015

World as Classroom: Anthropological Trash in Parks

By Edith Carpio

To complete the course enrichment component of the environmental writing class I hiked two different parks in the New York and New Jersey area. I did this as part of a geology course, which required us to complete field labs after our hikes.

Our first hike was on Wed. April 8; we went right across the street from campus, to the Ramapo Reservation. As it is my first year at Ramapo College, I've never had the chance to go to the reservation before so I was looking forward to it. But I wasn't that excited because it was cold, and that reflected in my view of the park. I imagine it is beautiful in the summer time and fall, with colorful leaves on the trees. And although as of March 20th it is spring time, the gusts of wind and drizzling convinced me and my classmates otherwise.

While at the reservation we made seven stops, including the Ramapo river channel, which I noticed had garbage around it. Anthropologic effects on the park were rare but noticeable. As I walked through the county park, I noticed water bottles and wrappers on the ground from hikers. Other stops on the hikes included Scarlett Oak Pond, which is the pond on campus, a waterfall, a small boulder field, outcrops, and streams.

On our stop to see outcrop, we saw that there was graffiti on the rock. The whole rock was covered in graffiti, this made me keep an eye out for other rocks with graffiti on them throughout the remainder of my hike. After I noticed that one, I saw many more. People may not think they're doing any harm by drawing graffiti on rocks around the park but the chemicals on the paint may run when it rains, causing them to drip into the ground and harm any life on the ground.

On Wed. April 22, we went on our second hike at Nyack Beach State Park in Nyack, New York, just 35 minutes from campus. We did not do much hiking here, but we did walk around and observe a little. We observed a piece of outcrop and the "beach area" surrounded by boulders. From what I saw it was a lot cleaner and preserved than the Ramapo Reservation.

After going on these hikes for my geology class I am more interested in hiking. I look forward to going to other parks in the New York and New Jersey area this summer. After going on these hikes, I also realized it's important to participate in local programs and organizations that do park cleanups. So often, we see going to the park as a pass time and then just leave and forget about it.  We don't realize that there is important wildlife and vegetation that live there that rely on us to take care of the park.

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