Russell, June (Austin Review)

This will be my final Summer 2014 Blog. It is the end of another semester, another experience. In this final blog I will be comparing the differences and similarities of the parks I visited for my environmental observations. More specifically I will be referring to the species, diversity of the species and the species richness. I observed three parks. I started at, a park in my neighborhood, El Buen Samaritano, next I observed Pace Bend Park and today I observed Zilker Park. I will first introduce my final park observation.

I decided to go to Austin’s Zilker Park. Zilker Park is located in the heart of the city, downtown Austin. Zilker Park had, by far, more human activity and presence than the other two parks. There were a lot of birds, some dragon flies and a lot of people. People were swimming, kayaking, running and walking the trails, playing disc golf and many other sports. Zilker Park is definitely a fast paced and active experience. I noticed the birds and fireflies occupied a greater presence in the patches of isolated trees and vacant fields and vacant parking lots. Here are some images I captured at Zilker Park today:

Zilker Park
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Last week I observed the environment of Pace Bend Park. Pace Bend Park is located in Spicewood, TX, about forty-five minutes from downtown Austin, in the Austin Hill Country. There were people at the park camping, swimming, fishing and boating. The park was not too full, it was just as you would expect on a sunny Saturday in Austin. However,I did notice the water levels were low as a result of the recent drought. There were many birds to see in and out of the water, along with ants and little spiders alive and well that Saturday. Here are some moments I captured while enjoying a good time at Pace Bend Park with my family:

Pace Bend



Finally I will refresh your memory on my first two observations at a park in my neighborhood. El Buen Samaritano is about two blocks from my house in south Austin. El Buen Samaritano has a community clinic, a community garden and a couple of other facilities on its grounds. El Buen Samaritano is, for the most part, quiet and not too busy with human traffic. There are many birds, trees, bushes, cacti and flowers. Here are some images I captured during my time observing El Buen Samaritano:

El Buen Samaritano



Getting out and actually focusing on the species diversity and species richness in Austin has opened my eyes to so much that I was not seeing. I knew Austin’s environment was diverse, mainly focused on the human activity, but I guess I never really took the time to observe each insect, each bird, each butterfly, each flower or even each tree. I feel this environmental observation experience has really broadened my awareness of the many forms of life striving everywhere around me. It is amazing. I am Native American and I was always raised to respect the land and its creatures for we are all sharing this time and space and only briefly passing by. I have come to realize how much we as humans disrupt the systems in which these species live.

We are in too much of a hurry to worry about the millions of species living amongst us. At times it is like we don’t even care what we are doing to these vital species. If our plants and animals die we die, it really is that simple. It is time to care and start respecting our environment before it is too late. My greatest observation throughout this whole process was: The less disturbed the system the more diverse and rich the species are. When I was anywhere with a lot of human activity there was less animals and insects. I think Aldo Leopold hits the point of infringing on the space of species best in this quote: “The retreat of the wilderness under the barrage of motorized tourists is no local thing; Hudson Bay, Alaska, Mexico, South Africa are giving way, South America and Siberia are next. Drums along the Mohawk are now honks along the rivers of the world. Homo Sapiens putters no more under his own vine and fig tree; he has poured into his gas tank the stored motivity of countless creatures aspiring through the ages to wiggle their way to pastures new, Ant-like he swarms the continents.” We need to save the environment to save ourselves.

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