Envisioning Esopus Bend Nature Preserve
The following article conveys Spider Barbour’s initial thoughts about how Esopus Bend Nature Preserve can serve as a template and catalyst for inspiration, understanding, insight and appreciation.
The audience for Esopus Bend Nature Preserve is broad, with varied interests and purposes
Artists and poets have always found inspiration in natural landscapes and their resident plants and animals. Natural processes such as shifts in weather, and the changing look and feel of the seasons, increase opportunities for inspiration and artistic expression through the year. Paint-outs and poets’ walks could be held, and artists and writers invited to find their places and their muses in the Preserve landscape.
Many people are devoted to various aspects of the natural environment – wildflowers, trees, birds, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians, mushrooms, even rocks. Natural scientists require natural areas in which to conduct their investigations. Many people simply find solace, comfort and joy in woods, fields and stream-sides.
The ecology of the Preserve is central to the public’s awareness and enjoyment of its many wonderful features
As a microcosm of worldwide natural processes, abiding conditions and basic principles, the Preserve is perfect for conveying an integrated picture of the wider natural world. Disciplines such as geology, soil science, ecology, biology, environmental management and even landscape engineering can be brought together to form a unified, integrated understanding of the complex landscape, varied substrates and diverse plant and animal species on the Preserve.
The history of human use and influence as imprinted on the landscape adds another layer of interpretive interest. Naturalists, scientists, historians and other informed citizens could act as interpreters of the landscape according to their expertise and interest. These people could serve as educators, using the Preserve as a venue for interpretive tours, lectures and presentations.
In order to continually enhance and increase the information base of the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve environment, non-consumptive, non-damaging scientific research should be encouraged, perhaps through outreach to regional colleges, universities and research organizations. The resulting information would be of value to Preserve managers, participating educators, other researchers and the interested public.
The encouragement of insight on the part of visitors is an important goal of public outreach and participation in Preserve-based programs and activities. If people’s minds are activated, and they come away with their own realizations and conceptual connections, not only have their mental models of the world we live in been expanded and improved, but perhaps so have the modes and dynamics of their thinking.
Appreciation, the final goal and result, naturally follows, and it is hoped that the joy of appreciation and the love of the place will bring back visitors and participants in Preserve’s public program time and again.
Statement prepared by Spider Barbour as a contribution to the Charrette, September 10, 2004.