Ripples 4-23-15

Written by Jennifer Powell, Woodland Dunes Land Management Coordinator
April 22, 2015 marked the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  Earth Day is a relatively young holiday.  Older than myself but younger than my parents, for some it stands as a noticeable shift in the way we view the world.  I grew up learning about recycling and watching Captain Planet cartoons on television.  Add to that the many camping trips we took as a family in Crivitz and my grandpa taking my brother and I fishing and one can perhaps see how I went on to get a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Biology, and become a land manager for a nature center.  Earth Day has strong roots in Wisconsin and it is a heritage we should all embrace.  Caring about our natural world occurs on many different levels and in many different forms.  We don’t have to go to one extreme or another when acting in a way that is good for our world.  Simple everyday things, such as turning off unused lights, not letting the water run, and picking up trash are important.  Not only are we making a difference for the world around us, we are making a difference for ourselves.  Research shows that having green space around us is good for our health.  But we don’t need research to tell us this.  Go outside, breathe in the fresh air, and watch a bird, a butterfly, even a squirrel for a while.  Just slowing down, getting active, and really taking the time and concentration to observe the world around us is good for our mental and physical well being.  
There is a compelling story reported by public radio station UWUM, about a physician at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee who was treating a young patient with spina bifida.  Although this child was receiving state-of-the-art treatment at the hospital, it meant more to him to visit the natural area across the street where the remains of an old asylum, called the Milwaukee Grounds, stood.  Long ago abandoned, the property has returned to nature and supports a forest and a rough trail, and people now go there to find a respite from their illnesses.  As a result, Dr. Mark Gorelick, is working with others to preserve and enhance the natural area for the benefit of the community and wildlife.  The story can be found at
Right now at Woodland Dunes, the ospreys are nesting.  These unique birds not very common and we happen to have just the right habitat and food source for them to exist here.  But even something as common as the Canada goose, who also nest at Woodland Dunes, can provide that sense of belonging to something bigger, if you just stop and appreciate them for a while.  And while you are walking around your environment, if you happen to see some wayward trash, please pick it up.  This benefits not only the wildlife but also your own health and well being.  I know I feel less stressed and more relaxed and balanced when my house is clean and organized, and I feel I have control over some chaos in the world.  It is the same way in nature.

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