Green forests, blue waters, and silver linings

Many people have been looking for any silver linings amidst the headlines associated with our current pandemic. Earlier this spring, it was noticeable that many of us were flocking to the great outdoors for respite and a change of scenery- and in record numbers. Public lands are seeing visitation comparable to, and even exceeding, levels typically seen around summertime holiday weekends. For those of us working in natural resource management and the outdoor recreation industries, it’s a welcome sight. Studies have shown that people become better stewards of our natural resources if they spend more time directly interacting with them. While that heightened stewardship can benefit our natural areas, increased visitation and usage also puts additional negative pressure on our natural resources. It’s so important for us as individuals to take extra steps to recognize our impacts and try our best to mitigate them. Many organizations have programs in place to encourage stewardship, and perhaps this summer we should give them extra attention as well.

Each July, the North American Lake Management Society hosts and promotes Lakes Appreciation Month. It’s a good reminder to appreciate all that our lakes do for us. Suggestions for showing your appreciation include picking up litter around your lake’s shoreline, participating in your favorite lake activity, hosting a formal or informal educational event, and even having your septic tank pumped.  Lakes Appreciation Month is also an important reminder that we’re all responsible for protecting not only our favorite lakes, but all of our natural resources.

If you find yourself hiking, boating, or enjoying the outdoors and you’re new to it, welcome! If you’ve found your way back, it’s great to see you again. We’re so lucky to have such abundant and easy access to nature in the Northern Poconos, and as we put more pressure on these special places, it’s time to do for our natural resources what they do for us:  provide relief. Please, if you venture out, take an extra minute to pick up some litter, leave things a little nicer than you found them, or support our many resource management agencies. It makes a big difference. Enjoy and be safe!

Nick Spinelli has been serving as the Executive Director of the Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District since 2010. He oversees the District’s water quality monitoring program, provides educational programming, writes/administers grants for watershed improvement projects, and leads implementation of the Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management Plan. He has served on the Board of the Pennsylvania Lake Management Society since 2011, including two terms as President. Nick is a lifelong resident of the Lake Region. Outside of work, Nick’s hobbies include growing food and plants, paddling, and SCUBA diving with the Tafton Dive/Rescue Team. He resides in Tafton, PA.