Published in the Las Vegas Optic on July 14th, 2021.
Summer is here (at last) and the Gallinas River Park beckons. The park – natural, green, and cool – awaits you. All sorts of benefits derive from an untamed natural space – especially when a river runs through it. We Las Vegans are pretty lucky, you know. Few towns and cities can claim a true nature park at their center.
Appearances and conditions of a nature park are defined by Mother Nature. While beautification processes such as mowing, trimming, pruning and grooming, are essential in traditional city parks, our nature park requires a different kind of management. Human intervention, for example, will be needed for the selective removal of invasive plants and their replacement with non-invasive, native varieties. As much as possible, through cooperation with the Las Vegas Parks Department, the Friends of the Gallinas River Park and Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance will attempt to insure that plants and animals in the park are left undisturbed.
When trees, shrubs, and plants are left alone to thrive, they provide shade, food and cover for all kinds of wildlife. Insects aerate the soil allowing for moisture retention and abundant plant growth; butterflies and bees pollinate flowers. Insects become food for birds, reptiles and a host of small creatures; invertebrates make fine meals for fish. A thriving Bosque keeps the river healthy. When the river is healthy – shaded and cleansed – it allows fish and invertebrates to flourish.
Instances of interdependency go on and on. Every species of plant and animal relies on every other species for sustenance or a healthy environment – often both. If humans disrupt this…
…mutual aid society, by mowing, for example, or otherwise altering the natural cycle, we all lose.
If instead, we nurture the natural processes and reduce mowing and other grooming activities, families and individuals of all ages get to enjoy a walk through a luscious, friendly, natural river park. As they walk, they might notice wildflowers never before encountered or observe signs of beaver recently returned. They will almost certainly see some happy fishermen along the river.