Loving Our Parks to Death
The Truckee Meadows is home to some of the most diverse open spaces I have seen. Oftentimes friends and family think I am traveling from state to state when looking at the adventures I share online. I can’t really blame them when you juxtapose a forested hike up Galena to a stroll through Griffith Canyon surrounded by desert wildflowers (Can one really just stroll through Griffith Canyon?). In reality, I have just gone 30 miles from one side of Sparks to the other side of Reno. With such varying native wildlife and natural habitat to explore, it is no wonder our community loves its parks and trails as much as I do. But can we love our parks and trails too much?
Loving our parks to death
There has been a lot of talk recently about loving our parks to death. Picture the child bringing their favorite teddy bear everywhere they go, and after time the stuffed animal has lost its button eyes and most of its fur. Our parks have always been subject to environmental and human impacts that threaten the wildlife within it, but since the pandemic began that impact is increasingly more dangerous. Parks are seeing twice the visitation with three times the amount of trash while their maintenance budgets remain smaller than they were fifteen years ago.
I don’t think we can love our parks too much. We aren’t that little kid anymore who doesn’t know how to care for what we love. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou comes to mind “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We can apply the best conservation strategies to not only study but protect our biologically diverse landscapes. We can inspire advocates who become voices of our parks through education and experience. We can ensure the health and vibrancy of our parks, trails and open spaces well into the future with your support.
Making a difference
Doing better for your parks takes a lot of different forms and starts right here in your local community. Making a financial contribution to Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation is one of the most effective ways to support parks. Even a small, one-time donation is appreciated, but there are additional creative ways to give as well. You can donate in honor or memory of a loved one, plan a future gift through retirement or life insurance, schedule a monthly gift, or even start an online fundraiser for the Parks Foundation and invite your friends to donate.
Volunteering is a great way to lend your unique skills, talents, and knowledge to preserving your parks in a tangible way. From invasive plant removal to community science the opportunities to volunteer are endless. You can join a cleanup event with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, join a committee of the Lahontan Audubon Society, join a planting event at the Rosewood Nature Study Area, or even become a wildlife volunteer with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Parks hold the power to inspire a sense of wonder and love of the outdoors. One of the best ways you can help support our parks is by helping others understand all that parks have to offer. Gifting the Truckee Meadows Trails Challenge is a great way to help your friends, family, or even colleagues discover their own connections to the outdoors. Bringing a friend along on your next adventure where you show them how to be a park steward can encourage them to pick up their dog’s waste, stay on trail, and not leave trash after a picnic.
The fast-paced world awaits with traffic, task lists, and screens, but while you’re in the outdoors you can simplify your life, focus on connecting with nature, and reset your mind and body. As more and more people head to our parks and trails for just this we must decide – do we continue protecting our outdoor spaces the same as we have been (under-staffed and under-budgeted) or do we get involved with transformative change for our future?