My good friend and fellow MoCo environmentalist Kit Gage recently let me know that she'd contacted the people at our local parks department to let them know her thoughts about the Vision 2030 plan they'd drafted after reading an email I'd circulated on the topic.
Kit's own email on the topic was so good I thought I'd post it here, with her permission of course. (I know some out there will have an issue with her words about deer. I've got different ideas from Kit on the topic, but I post her words here as she wrote them.)
Here's what Kit told those on the Vision 2030 committee:
I have looked over the Vision2030 statement, and as a heavy user of Sligo Creek Park, and active member of the Stormwater Committee of the Friends of Sligo Creek, I wanted to give a few comments on what I saw listed as peoples’ priorities as measured by survey, and the general priority list you all have put together. I am writing on my own behalf, but I expect my concerns are congruent with many of my cohort.
1. Without a more serious tree planting and invasives removal program, Sligo Creek Park and to a lesser extent other less degraded parks, will look very different by 2030 – many of the mature trees will be gone and relatively few native species will be left, given the overwhelming presence of ivy and other invasives that tend to preclude new tree growth. Norway Maples and other quicker growing invasive species will overwhelm the more slow growing natives.
2. Efforts to make new trails (which I support) that don’t’ take into account the need for significant tree and shrub planting and nurturing will just expose the dearth of trees and make warm weather use more difficult for lack of shade.
3. The MS4 and other stormwater requirements impact MNCPPC. You all are where the buck stops in terms of where the flood and drought and pollutants effects land in the county. A major education campaign to limit pollutant load, educate neighbors, especially adjoining neighbors, and implement some LID projects in your own areas – parking lots, buildings, walk-ways, roads, etc would seem at least prudent. In fact it’s probably essential for you all to address your MS4 requirements.
4. Education about the fact of the parks. Because skinny little parks abound in the county, they’re close to where lots of people live. MNCPPC and FOSC and other watershed groups spend some time having programs to help educate neighbors about why parks are so important, and not just as basketball and tennis courts, or ball fields. Given the changing population and changing language issues, it would seem a critical opportunity to do more education in the schools, more bi-lingual nature education in general, more education about stormwater and its impacts and implications.
5. Deer. Oy, deer. They’re eating everything. Remove them in all humane ways possible (including shooting), please.
6. I like that the existing community centers and facilities are simple, usable, and straightforward. No frills. Obvious maintenance needed here and there, but friendly for meetings, family events, and play. Where possible, please renovate using green methods and materials and alternative energy demonstration sites like solar panels where appropriate.
I’m clear that you’re facing daunting spending and staff cuts, wide-ranging needs, and clamoring priorities. Nonethess, I would urge you not to lose the essence of parks – outdoor natural spaces that in cities are otherwise not seen or understood. It’s incumbent on us to preserve what’s possible of the natural biome, and explain what it is and why it is to the surrounding populace not didactically but in an easily and readily accessible manner.
Thanks so much for your efforts to assess priorities and work to implement them.