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862 National Public Lands Day

(Artwork from the NPLD Site, cropped)

In 1985, I moved to Nashville and began a long standing friendship with a local park. Hardly a week went by that I did not make at least one trip to the park to run - not on the locally famous roadways, but instead on the trails.

When I first visited the park, I was shocked by the lack of hikers. There were hoards of folks who walked on the roads and quite a few who walked on the bridle paths, but few followed the blazed paths. It was amazing to me that the park had such a great trail system, set in an urban area, and no one used it!

The seldom used trails were not without issues and even concerns. In the late summer and early fall, the paths were so overgrown that you had to find a part in the brush in order to find the passage. Cautiously I ran the trails, because I knew that if I injured myself (in the days long before mobile phones), it could be a few days before anyone hiked the trail and found me. Women confided with me that they would not hike the overgrown trails alone for fear of their personal safety.

Well, those times have changed! The trails are now overflowing with hikers and runners. A couple of weeks ago, on an hour long hike, we met at least 20 hikers and and ten runners. The once slender paths of the park are now as wide as roads. In wet areas of the trail, users seem to have tried every measure possible to avoid getting their shoes muddy as avoidance trails have branched and re-branched from the main trail. It is saddening to see the condition of the trail but it is refreshing to note that so many folks are taking advantage of the park.

The park is public land. The land was not set aside for a lone trail runner following a path through the brambles, but instead it is open to the masses for all who will come. The land provides a unique location for outdoor recreation and a connection with nature.

My park is not unlike many other parks in towns, cities, counties, and states across the nation. It is an oasis of green in a desert of asphalt. It is good to see the many users of the park, but how do we protect the lands from overuse?

A good place to start is tomorrow - National Public Lands Day - Sep 28, 2013. Public Lands Day was set aside to recognize the importance of the natural resources available to all. Public Lands Day is a service day. It is a time to give back to the public lands we love and use. The Public Lands site offers links to many of the planned events across the nation.

National Public Lands Day was started to give users a chance to develop a connection to Public Lands. The work that the Public Lands Day volunteers accomplish will not be limited to one day, September 28th, hopefully it will be the seed to enlist new members to the army of volunteers needed to maintain the public lands for the years to come. Click on their website and find ways to join the give back programs.

Happy National Public Land Day trails

Note ... for the metro to mountain journal, over the next few weeks, we will be discussing how to minimize our impact while using public lands and wilderness areas. Public Lands Day was a good opportunity to kick off the new series.


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