Saturday, July 12, 2008

A forest without fences

Today's guest post is from CPOP supporter Greg Russell. Thanks, Greg!

First, thanks to CPOP for again allowing me to voice my thoughts on this blog. I want to say thanks to all of the responses I got the last time I guest-blogged — both the positive and the negative comments. Communication between two opposing sides of an issue is very important and I hope that no matter which side of the fence you are on, that will be recognized.

Unfortunately, the Memphis Zoo did not think enough of the citizens of Memphis to ask for their input before destroying four acres of the Old Forest. I understand from zoo employees that zoo administrators purposely acted in a secretive manner, fearing public opposition could halt the Teton Trek project.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a supporter of a strong zoo, but I am beginning to question the competence of current zoo management. They cranked up their bulldozers and in a matter of days, mowed down a rich forest ecosystem that had taken thousands of years to come about.

Imagine the habitat that was lost due to this clear-cutting.

A public forum to further discuss the zoo’s future plans is needed, and when one is held, please everyone come out to it. Remember that the citizens of Memphis fought the federal government and won — even after hundreds of homes were torn down to make way for the proposed interstate that would have bisected Overton Park.

Because of the zoo’s destruction of the forest that was under their care, I am very hesitant to leave any of the remaining Old Forest in the hands of the zoo. A much better option is to take down the existing fence and allow FREE access to all.

There are already parts of the Old Forest that are accessible to those with disabilities, and CPOP and other groups lead free nature hikes. The zoo could do a public service to the many folks who can’t afford the zoo’s high and rising prices by also offering free hikes within this area, all without the fence that does nothing now but put a stranglehold on the entirety of the Old Forest.

Yesterday morning I was unable to get to CPOP’s hike through the Old Forest, but I did make it out shortly after the start of the hike for a run through the woods. It was nice to hear the sound of young voices echoing through the forest, as it appeared that quite a few folks were attending CPOP’s excellent and informative hike.

As a frequent trail user myself, I think it very important to note that there has been a marked increase in the number of people hiking the trails on their own. Because of this, I believe that the 17 acres of forest that the zoo fenced in would better serve the majority of Memphians if the fence did not exist. More folks could enjoy the forest as a whole rather than running up on a chain link fence. Educational hikes by CPOP and other friends of the park could then take place in a setting that is free and accessible to all.

I feel that as this issue grows, more and more folks will be rediscovering the Old Forest of Overton Park. And I guarantee you that any forest is best enjoyed without fences.


DaKoda Davis said...

Hey Naomi,
I just posted my illustration for you to add a link to.

it's {}

The title of my illustration is Trouble at the Memphis Zoo. Plus, I made a few changes from the original, hope you like them.