WHY OUR PEDESTRIAN TRAILS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Without access to our pedestrian trails, how and where else can children even begin to know what a healthy environment looks like, or begin to appreciate our natural environment, or then learn how to protect it, or vote for it?
When I started building the Humber Valley Heritage Trail, I made several gratifying discoveries.
I rediscovered the childhood sensation of quiet contemplative enjoyment and discovery outdoors. I also got exercise in the company of like-minded trail building volunteers. Then more members of my community of Bolton began to use our local trail because it became a unique opportunity to socialize. Soon we understood that walking and hiking on the trail was powerful preventative medicine, having clear health benefits at no cost. Still later, we saw trails as key supports of the environmental movement and directly helping people, particularly children, appreciate the diversity of nature. For these important reasons walking and hiking trails remain as priceless assets in our communities.
We are now in an era of rapid urbanization combined with increasing outdoor education cutbacks. The estrangement of children from nature is a worrisome phenomenon which Terri LeRoux, Past President of Hike Ontario, brought to my attention at the 2009 Hike Ontario Summit. It was entitled Nature Deficit Disorder and is the latest research into how children are losing contact with nature. The main reasons cited for estrangement from nature were:
- increasing electronic entertainment/communications
- controlled -play atmosphere in our urban communities
- continued outdoor education cutbacks
- less than 10 percent of Canadian households have the luxury of access to a cottage or second home in a natural setting
HVHTA pedestrian trails continue to offer direct contact with nature for all walks of life, including our children, a safe experience with nature free of charge. It so very important for volunteers to support our Humber Valley Heritage Trail Association. I urge you all to continue your trail efforts and stewardship. I invite many more volunteers to join the excellent and valuable work of the HVHTA.
Wm M.C. Wilson May 2015
How I learned that exploring nature conservation could be a rewarding adventure
The HVHTA Mission Statement was uniquely written with a two-fold purpose. It was not only “to create a public recreational hiking trail”, but also “to promote, support and engage in public education regarding the appreciation, renewal and protection of the natural environment surrounding the Humber Valley and to encourage ecologically attitudes towards it”.
I have been involved in nature conservation since 1964 as a student, as a professional and as a volunteer. During 25 years with the Ontario Civil Service, it became evident to me that government alone cannot succeed in protecting and enhancing nature. My graduation to volunteer nature conservation groups was a welcome change. It became further evident to me that governments, even allied with nature conservation volunteers, cannot make much progress unless there is a steady supply of volunteers available for a host of tasks.
During this time I explored the thoughts of some of the most notable persons and organizations involving themselves in nature and nature conservation. Their thoughts explain how vulnerable and essential nature is. Their work inspired me to take part in nature conservation activities. By attempting to understand and relate these ideas, and some of my own experiences, it is my hope that many others can be inspired to take part in nature conservation. Nature can be very silent and needs a human voice.Nature’s value is especially unheard, unappreciated and vulnerable as economic roaring goes on. I believe that the single most important truth of this engagement of thoughts is that recognizing, understanding and sustaining a healthy relationship with nature is essential to the health of us and our communities.
Nature Conservation is taking personal stewardship for our natural environment either in a paid capacity or asa volunteer, either as an individual or member of a group. Nature conservation has many creative opportunities for everyone- particularly volunteers. We can: plant trees, buy “green” products, buy local, speak out about local development proposals, participate in community groups, write grant proposals, advance conservation in professional associations, take a kid outdoors, and write about nature conservation.
And, of course, we can help maintain and build the HVHTA hiking trail! In fact, I think that helping a hiking trail club is more important for our community’s natural environment than ever before.
Please do let me know if you are interested in hearing more about the great personalities and organizations involved in promoting nature conservation and how you could be involved with local Caledon nature conservation volunteering.
Wm M. C. Wilson April 2015
About Bill Wilson:
Humber Valley Heritage Trail Association - founding member
Government of Canada International Year of the Volunteer Medallion
Ontario Society for Environmental Management – member
Caledon Environmental Advisory Committee - chairman
Cold Creek Conservation Area Stewardship Committee - director
Caledon Enterprise environmental columnist
Hike Ontario – president