Although I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime, I applaud the City of Bloomington and Town of Normal for beginning work on an open spaces initiative. Most of the efforts to date involve researching what is available and what we currently have, but ongoing work will include efforts for more work in the outdoors.
Pardon the pun, but it seems both councils and leadership had bigger fish to fry with streets, uptown, downtown and other “in your backyard” issues, but this move is huge for our communities as we look to the future. We need to nurture what we have and look for better ways to manage and maintain our lakes and parks.
Instead of restricting access to our lakes and parks, more should be done to open them up. Rules are made for those who follow them and as a group outdoors folks follow the rules. The more rules the harder it is to understand them. Transparency regarding the rules and ordinances should be the rule. The cloak of darkness just confuses folks.
We are blessed with great groups such as the Friends of Everbloom/Dawson Lake, McLean County Parks, the Parkland Foundation and the Lake Bloomington Homeowners Association that look for better ways to nurture our green space and to date have done an exceptional job. It’s nice to see Normal and Bloomington seeing this as important, too. Not every good thing involves brick and mortar. Having green space and recreational venues should be a priority as well.
With only two or three larger lakes in the area, it is incumbent on those who use them as well to become part of the process.
For example, for years I have picked up trash around the lakes and adjoining parks and in the beginning it was a mess. Each trip would usually be two to three large bags. Today that has gotten much better around the lakes and roads adjacent to them.
My daughter, Shelby, and I do trash pickup about every weekend and the amount has decreased significantly. It seems so simple, take out what you bring with you. There are plenty of receptacles for trash and fishing line at all parks. Thanks to other local groups who do their part as well.
We still have bumps in the road with access, creel enforcement, docks and availability/maintenance. It’s important for outdoors folks to be engaged. No question the good old boy network still exists and the squeaky wheel does get grease now and again, but getting involved early can keep that to a minimum.
Each of the aforementioned groups should get together to keep what we have and grow green space and better utilization for the future. Sitting silent will not get it done. We may just have to tilt a windmill or two.
I work hard every day on two specific items, the right to fish and hunt, and keeping privatization of public access at bay. Private is private, but public is public as well and there is no middle ground.
Working together is the only way to make it work and just like life, it’s a constant compromise. No one gets everything they desire and warts will pop up. Those who see the big picture will benefit, but restrictions to any group including campers, bikers, boaters, anglers and hunters is not a positive step. I see it happening every day.
Every person who loves our lakes and parks should be cognizant of the issues and get engaged in where we go next. It’s truly not just about those who love the outdoors. It is in everyone’s best interest to have access, more open spaces and fewer restrictions on use. Our parks should be multifunctional and adapt to the changes of the population. Putting priority on green space is the first step.
I look forward to being part of the ride and seeing what we can come up with to enhance our outdoor experiences.
Pheasants Forever banquet
Mark your calendars and buy tickets early for this year’s McLean County Pheasants Forever Banquet on Sept. 9 at the Interstate Center. Doors open at 4 p.m. and there will be raffles, silent auctions and a great meal of ribeye steaks or herb and garlic chicken.
For tickets, contact Bruce Thomas at (309) 663-5281 or Bill Bryan at (309) 661-1915. Other board members have tickets as well.