July 27, 2012

Relationships of convenience

In Australia tap water is generally safe and seemingly abundant. This convenience comes with a small price: the impact on our attitudes to water. Although identifying our own biases is difficult, I've tried to expose a few of my underlying assumptions. To help, I looked at my reactions to different drinking water supplies. Welcome to my mini-diary of drinking water baggage!

The Bosque in the 'Burbs

What draws so many people to the Rio Grande Nature Center (RGNC)? To find out, I spoke with Karen Herzenberg, RGNC's Instructional co-ordinator and Interpretive Naturalist. In this excerpt she describes two unintentional interpretive features at RGNC. Sorry about the poor audio quality.

Albuquerque's RGNC  attracts an impressive number of visitors; 130,000 per year. A team of 170 volunteers commit to at least 24 hours of training before running a stack of activities, walks and talks. Every year 12,000 children attend a class at the center. It's not just locals taking advantage of a natural area so close to the city. Herzenberg tells me that visitors from “all over” come to see the waterbirds, “We're know internationally as a destination for birdwatchers... [who come for] specific birds you might only see in this area.”

 In spite of it's high public value, I'm surprised that the cottonwood forest, or bosque, at RGNC still exists. Levees and irrigation ditches have dramatically reduced flow throughout the Rio Grande. The last flood was in 1941. Without floods, cottonwoods can't germinate and grow. Today, the aging stands of trees are slowly dying off. Reforestation is hampered by low water levels. Consequently, the bosque and wetland areas at RGNC contain some of the few remnants of the endemic ecosystems.