Schultz, December 2014

Creek Sign

 

Through out the semester I have spent plenty of time in Blunn Creek. During this time, I’ve developed a better understanding of the current relationship between humans and our environment. I learned that the nature preserve’s location causes a few complications. Blunn Creek is located in South Austin; a populous area. Because of the creeks proximity to an urban area, humans are constantly interacting with the ecosystem. It is obvious that humans are having a negative effect on this environment; despite their feeble attempts to improve the state of the preserve.

I’m sure one of the largest contributors to the poor state of Blunn Creek is its proximity to an urban area. Through out my time in the creek, I frequently witnessed various forms of trash and litter, including trash bags, wine bottles, wrappers, and other garbage. This debris pollutes the environment and has a negative effect on its inhabitants. I’m sure the majority of Austinites would agree that treating the environment in such a way is not very progressive. It’s upsetting to think that with a little effort from the community this “Nature Preserve” could actually be preserved. Perhaps the nearby university, Saint Edwards, could put together a student group to address this issue.

This pollution in combination with the current drought has caused very negative effects in the creek. The level of biodiversity in the preserve seems to be very low. Through out my time in the creek I discovered that there is little variety in the creek’s plant life; this is most likely because very few plants can survive the current conditions in the creek. The few species of trees, bushes, and grass in the creek are likely able to cope with the low levels of water and high levels of pollution. Further, there seems to be little wild life in the creek beyond a variety of birds and insects; along with a few squirrels and lizards.

As I have learned throughout the semester, lowering the levels of biodiversity in an ecosystem can decrease it’s inhabitants ability to fight off diseases and ultimately extinction. By polluting the creek, local austinites are decreasing the ecosystem ability to sustain itself. The fact of the matter is, given the current global climate state, Blunn Creek would struggle to sustain itself without the additional effects of these pollutants. Unfortunately, it will take more than a few individual efforts to significantly improve the state of the creek.  Many of the largest issues in the creek have steamed from the Anthropocene, a term for the era that began when human activities had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. Human activities are influencing important environmental factors, such as temperature, water levels, air quality, and more.

Although my opinion is not a professional one, it seems to me that water levels in the creek are far too low. There is a small stream running through the bottom of the creek, but it hardly seems like enough water to sustain an ecosystem of a significant size; especially a nature preserve. I measured the stream to be nearly 12 inches at its deepest point, and I estimate the average depth of the creek to be around 5 inches. I don’t believe this is enough water to sustain a nature preserve. Not only are the water levels in the creek very low, the scarce amount of water to be found is often polluted. I believe the lack of a healthy water supply is one of the major factors repressing the creek from improving.

I believe Improving the water quality in Blunn Creek would indirectly improve the levels of Biodiversity. A Healthier water supply would provide a better atmosphere for the local wildlife; removing the pollution in the water supply may convince more species to inhabit the nature preserve.

Through out my time in the creek I witnessed a minimal change in the environment, other than the typical changing of the seasons, however efforts are being made to improve the creek’s health. There are sites on the preserve where humans activity is having a positive effect on the environment. Some sites have been set aside for growing new plant life in the creek. This may slightly improve the quality of the environment, but I believe these efforts are too few and far between. What is the point of planting new trees in an unhealthy environment. Larger issues in the creek, such as the level of pollution, should be addressed before we begin to concern ourselves with deeper issues, such as the level of biodiversity.

Unfortunately, I believe the only way to address these larger issues is to cause a significant change in the attitudes of our society. Many of the biggest issues in the creek steam from the developing global warming crisis. Irregular weather patterns, in combination with a lengthy drought, are placing significant stress on environments across the globe, including Blunn Creek. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the earth is entering a sixth mass extinction; and alarming the global population of amphibians has decreased by more than half. My time in the creek has provided me with plenty of evidence to support this statistic. I would love to see the quality of Blunn Creek to improve.

I believe that improvements to the preserve can be made on both an individual level, and by our society as a whole. If austinites were more conservative with their water consumption, we might witness a rise in water levels in the creek. Furthermore, the increasing burning of fossil fuels in the Austin area is most likely harming the creek. Establishing policies that encourage austinites to burn less fossil fuels, would improve the health of Blunn Creek and other environments in the Austin area. Additionally, smaller contributions can be made to improve the state of the creek. Individuals or small groups could make efforts to clean the creek, constructing a suitable environment for the local wildlife; even small efforts like these could have significant effects on the environment.

My time in the creek, along with the time spent in my environmental science class, has opened my eyes to the negative environmental effects that human activity is causing. Although I was a believer in global warming before this class, what I’ve learned during my time has increased my awareness of how serious these issues are. I hope conditions in Blunn Creek improve, and I would love for my university to get involved in this change. Not only would this provide a quality local nature preserve for the students, but it would allow Saint Edwards to set an example for other austinites; that the environment is important, and that we must treat it with respect, if we hope to sustain a healthy earth.

Saint Edwards

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