Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Eastern Prom Urban Wilderness Trail: Introduction

This is a picture of me in my park ranger uniform: I'm canoeing in the tidal basin at Inwood Hill Park in New York City. I wrote a bit about urban rangering in my op-ed column in last week's Press Herald, when I encouraged readers to think more about how cities use natural resources.
Here's an excerpt from an earlier draft (the piece was originally intended for this blog):
Few people care to live near wastewater treatment plants, power stations, or working farms, no matter how much they benefit from the products of these places.

The problem is, when city- and suburb-dwellers truck off their waste to distant out-of-state landfills (as New York City does) or bury hundreds of streams underneath city streets (as the other Portland did) or otherwise attempt to hide nature and our responsibilities to it, environmental problems tend to follow (e. g., garbage pollution that supports a population of 100 million rats and sewage overflows that render the Willamette River untouchable in New York and Portland, OR, respectively).

So more power to us that oil tankers still berth past Bug Light, that the Wyman Power Station blinks ominously on Cousins Island, that sewage aerates on the Eastern Prom, that the trash incinerator's smokestack looms over I-95 and the airport. If we don't always find them pretty, they at least remind us that we ourselves are responsible for them - and capable of solving their problems ourselves.
With this, I'd like to kick off a new feature here on this blog: an urban wilderness tour of the Eastern Prom. First stop, the East End wastewater treatment plant. Stay tuned next week.

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