Volunteering Matters: Apshawa Preserve

DenaJune 16, 2011

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. —Hermann Hess

On Sunday, I headed into the forest alone to begin my fence-monitoring duties. I didn’t know quite what to expect. I wondered, Would there be more vandalism? The stretch of fence that I am assigned to monitor is not that long, though the hiking is rough at parts. It takes me about an hour to get in and another hour back out, but I stop to enjoy nature & snap photographs, too.

What I found deeply saddened me. Yes, more vandalism. In one place, the fence had been pulled down and in another, the fence had been sliced open from top to bottom.

The purpose of this fence is to rehabilitate a wildlife preserve that is on the brink of destruction. Habitat destruction (commercial/housing development) has led to the extinction, or near-extinction, of the natural predators—mountain lions, wolves, coyote—of white-tailed deer. As a result of habitat destruction + no natural predators, the population of white-tailed deer has exploded. When NJCF held the deer drive, at least 18 deer were counted, which works out to a density of 40 deer per square mile. In order for the forest to be sustainable, the number of deer per square mile should be less than 10. This overpopulation of deer is eating all of the native plants in the preserve and rapid deforestation is occurring.

The implementation of this fence may be the only chance that this forest has to survive. Yet, people come along and inflict damage like what you see above. It truly breaks my heart. I can not understand why a person would destroy the fence instead of simply walking a few minutes to one of the gates. There are only a few things in life that make me lose it, and this is one of them. Some people do not care about this forest—or even this planet.

What’s worse is that I have had conversations with such people who have actually said to me,”I do not care about conservation. I do not care about the Earth. I do not care what happens because I will be dead before it takes hold.”

I consider myself a compassionate & understanding person; but this mentality is entirely foreign & repulsive to me.

Now, I am not saying that every person needs to stop what she is doing this instant & become a tree-hugging hippie. However, I do believe that simple lifestyle choices like recycling, keeping trash contained, being mindful of the environment, and NOT CUTTING FENCES—should be common practice for all people.

There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits, there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer. —Calvin Coolidge

I do not know what it will take to open eyes to the urgency of this matter. Perhaps, spreading the good word is all that I can do. For now, it will have to be enough. My hope is that by sharing my story, my photographs, and my passion for our planet—I might touch one life, change one mind.

A few photographs from my time in the woods on Sunday:

If you want to get involved, but don’t know how, here are some ideas to get you started:

In love & light,

Comments (2)

  • Lou Mello

    June 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Agree with you completely, the type of people that do this and litter and don’t care a bit about the environment or others just make me so angry. I am usually a very relaxed (OK, maybe a bit O/C) guy about living and let live, but, there is no excuse for the behavior of these morons.

    I will call the Litter Hot Line in SC and report people who toss stuff out of their car and if I see someone in a store or on the street toss something, I will tell them to pick it up. I don’t care what they think, they are morons!

    In SC, we have the Litter Hotline and I am attaching a link so you can see it. I imagine they have one in your area as well and it’s a good number to have on speed dial. http://www.sclittercontrol.org/othercontactinformation.html

    Just keep doing what you can do and if you can impact just one person a month, it’s progress.

    1. Dena

      June 20, 2011 at 10:03 am

      @ Lou – The litter hotline is a fantastic idea. I am going to look into it and find out if we have one up here. You are right — that behavior is inexcusable. I am also a believer in “live & let live” but there are some times in life where I would be guilty for not interfering. This is definitely one of them.

      Thank you for fighting the good fight, Lou. 🙂

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