My summer has pretty much passed its climax and is heading for its denouement with the start of band camp. While it’s not exactly exciting or comfortable on top of my tower, there is something to be said for getting back to normalcy. It’s literally been since March that I’ve been around kids, and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it. Turns out, it has been great to get back in the swing.
This year, we are doing two weeks of camp, with a nice weekend in between, and when I saw the schedule, I thought it would be a perfect time to head out for an adventure and go on a camping/hiking adventure. Alas, the 30 day weather forecast doesn’t tend to be very accurate, and I chose the rainiest weekend of the summer so far to head to Hueston Woods State Park.
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved Hueston Woods. We stayed there pretty long term a couple summers in the 70’s while mom used the Fiami* library to work on her Masters degree. It had a nice lake with a beach, cool programs with rangers and an awesome nature center. All those memories are well ingrained in me, which is why I must write about this topic. This post is directed to my Ohio followers, but I’m sure it is also apropos to nearly every other state and probably on a national level as well.
Ohio has been gifted both by nature and forward thinking leaders with a tremendous number of great state parks. Personally, I think Hocking Hills should be a national park because it is so beautiful and unique. Many of the parks were built in the 30’s by the CCC, then updated and upgraded in the 60’s and 70’s. Unfortunately, and I’m sorry to skate along the edge of politics here, it seems we’ve lacked the leaders with vision of how important public spaces and conservancy is.
When you travel to Hueston Woods now, the lake is overgrown with algae because it is not dredged, the beach is barely used because there are no lifeguards, there is one part time ranger on duty, and the nature center is seldom open. In the 90s as part of “lean mean government” it was decided to cut state park funding to the bone and make them support themselves. As a result, maintenance and updating was greatly curtailed, staff was slashed, and programs ended. The lodges, once the pride of 70s Ohio, still look like hotels from the 70s. While I was staying, rainwater got into my power box and the maintenance guy came. Instead of replacing it with another GFCI outlet (which sell for about $4) he had to take the plug out of a neighboring box and switch it. He explained that they won’t have money for more replacements until the new fiscal year. To me, parks are like schools, they aren’t designed to work in a for profit atmosphere. Parks are something an enlightened society should be supporting.
The question is what can we do. First, even if you aren’t an outdoorsy person, get out and experience them. Drive around, maybe you’ll be surprised. The more traffic they get, the more attention the parks get in Columbus. Second, let people know that you think parks are important. We in Coldwater LOVE our park. Think if we had the same love as Ohioans and as Americans. The politicians couldn’t help but also support parkland.
Personally, I’m okay with raising my state taxes $5 a year for the parks. That’s like 50 million sorely needed dollars. Hell, raise my federal taxes $5 too for $1.5 billion to keep the national parks the gems they should be. While we are at it, do you think maybe we can find other places to frack and drill for oil? Maybe we could leave just those tiny dots alone.
In the end, we were given great gifts by previous generations, let’s do what we can to give the same gifts to the next generation.
If you would like to see pics from this trip check Instagram “CWJudman”
*I will never say the name of that “school” in Oxford on my blog. If you want to know why we call it Fiami, google it.