What would your park be without you, oh steward?

Whenever I get a break and take a little time for myself and a walk in a park, I usually take a plastic bag or a bucket to collect trash — especially down by the James River. One of the easiest things for me to do to make myself feel like I’m being useful is picking up that one extra piece of trash or recycling and putting it in the right receptacle. It’s an uphill battle, but worth the time. My kids are learning to appreciate the earth along the way, which can’t hurt.

The outdoors columnist Andy Thompson has a similar approach with English Ivy and wrote about it in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch column:

We’re all familiar with ivy. It can be quite lovely as an ornamental, but when it escapes human care, it becomes a menace. As with most non-native species, it evolved in a world where other species ate it, competed with it and limited its spread. This world offers none of those restrictions.

That’s why most of my winter walks — with baby, dogs or alone — turn in to attacks against ivy’s onslaught. I just can’t help it: When I see the vine that can grow up to eight feet a year inching its way up a maple sapling, the impulse grabs me. I rip at it. Pull it off the tree. Wrench it from the ground. Fling it to the side.

Anybody else have that desire to be a steward, that personal attachment to a park or landscape that makes you keep going back to clean trash, pull invasive species, ward off vandals, etc.? Do you bring your tools with you (bags, rakes, gloves, etc.)?

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2 responses to “What would your park be without you, oh steward?

  1. I’m a twice daily dog walker and never without bags for picking up trash, clippers and folding saw for removing the climbing vines from trees, and currently applications for the James River Park Systems license plate. For all tha the river and park give to us, picking up the trash is such an easy way to give back!

  2. My son and I always carry a bag to the river and pick up trash on the way back to the car. It’s upsetting when people laugh at us picking up trash. The only thing I can’t stand more is unleashed dogs running the trails.

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