State Parks deserve love — and protection –too

stormy sunset from Island View.Heron Lake St Pk

From our campsite lakeside at Heron Lake State Park, near Chama NM.

So much of our attention today rides with the 27 National Monuments under review by the Dept of Interior.  And budgetary woes threaten to yank the supports from under our National Parks; indeed that is already happening.  Some Parks have considered selling branding to monied corporations in order to keep bathrooms operating.

We’re at Heron Lake State Park on our way up to Colorado.  The park encompasses the Heron Lake Reservoir, with 200+ campsites, boat ramps and kayaks for rent.  It’s well kept and quiet.  These last days we have been one of 4 occupied campsites on our entire loop.  I’m sure it’s not always this empty.  The park  has erected a number of osprey platforms around the lake, one within sight of our loop, others along the trail that wanders between campgrounds.  “Our” nest has a successful pair with one chick; another nest has parents with two.  It’s said there are Bald Eagles here; my birdwalks scored Western Grebes, Green Tail Towees, Canada Geese, Killdeer, a flock of Black Headed Grosbeaks and a family of Flycatchers.  Those were just the ones I got close enough to identify.  There are elk and deer in abundance and where there’s prey, there’s predators: the camp host told me that a mountain lion completes the wild picture around the lake.

Our state parks, like Heron Lake State Park here in northern NM are just as vulnerable to misappropriation by a greedy-few politicians who see an opportunity to enrich their patrons and curry favor. And vulnerable as well to a failing or slowing economy when opening a state park to oil, gas and other extractive industry is the obvious way to raise the money to keep the schools open.  Yet, the fate of state parks may fall under our collective radar at a time when we are worried about our national public lands. Come and visit.  Fill some of these campsites and put in on this wake-free lake.  Bring binoculars and cameras–the longer the lens the better–to check out the Ospreys.  Or go and visit your nearest state park to see what it has to offer!

About the Author

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I grew up and lived in the DC Metro area for most of my life. For the last 20-some years of my career, I worked for the Federal Government. Much of that time, I worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service. Visiting refuges and National Forests around the country, working with the folks whose jobs were to protect, restore, and manage the wild lands, forests and creatures that depend on them is where my heart resonated. I didn't know it then, but that's where my public lands advocacy must have been born. I moved from DC to southwestern NM in 2008. I continued to work until 2013, when I left the government in December. Now I spend my time volunteering for various conservation non-profits. And traveling through the west to National Parks, Refuges, National Forests and BLM lands in our little motor home. And advocating for the protection of these lands that belong to all of us. I enjoy writing, photography, reading, birding, and driving bad roads in my big-girl 2001 F150 4x4.

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