River Bend Park, of Feather River Recreation and Park District, was featured on the M-R front page in a story about a group of “Park Watch” volunteers watching out for the well-being of the park.
Park District board member Kent Fowler, directing the Park Watch, has advocated park watching, even a number of years ago when his wife Margaret was Feather River Nature Center president, and he was helping watch for invasive plants and providing protection around the Old Bathhouse park. I especially remember him defending our wildflower habitat along the riverside.
When the Hmong people first arrived in Oroville, they had some “living off the land habits” from Vietnam, and before they learned about our park laws, were attacking local wildlife to eat — especially edible plants, including pea-family plants near the nature center. Kent corrected that misunderstanding –quite adamantly!
Kent is the conscience and compassion of Oroville parks. He has organized a squad of Park Watch volunteers just to have a citizenry presence to discourage hoodlums and encourage nature watching and proper use of the parks. The facilities and habitats have taken a heavy hit in recent times, which makes it bad for wildlife and people.
“Park Watch” is quite appropriate in this age of cellphones for seeing and reporting, plus the handy phone-camera makes it a “Dick Tracy” special! (Remember years before smart phones when comic-book character Dick Tracy had a “smart phone wristwatch?”)
Kent said, “If you can spare five minutes, just go off the main road and keep your eyes open. You might see something!” I like that. He was largely referring to park mischief, but I also saw a bit of nature wisdom in those words.
“Go off the main road and keep your eyes open!” “You can observe a lot by just watching!” Yogi had it right. Kent has it right. “Watch!” Even Jesus of the Holy Bible said it: “What I say unto you, I say unto all, ‘watch!’” Mark 13:37.
The Biblical wisdom may have directly been referring to a different dimension of watching, but it is equivalent to watching for a vandal, or watching for the coming of the swallow after a cold winter. Watching for the salmon in the fall, or the coming of the migratory waterfowl from the Arctic … those are worthy things to watch for. You can watch for wildlife while watching for miscreants! “Be a good River Watcher!”
As such, my job was as a park watcher-naturalist for 32 years at Oakland Nature Center and Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge — at a time when I was agile and could run down those thieving gosling and purse snatchers.
There are many things you can watch for while watching for specific subjects. Artists and photographers know that. Bird watchers know that. Rock hunters know that. Wildlife just happens to be part of a healthy environment, and you have two eyes so you can watch twice as much! Actually, we should be very thankful for having sight at all, as miraculous as it is. You catch on to that truth when dealing with cataracts or sight problems.
There have been numerous advocates for the out-of-doors down through the ages for those who, in the love of nature, hold communion with her visible forms, and who have developed exceptional eyesight and been privileged to use it for enhancing the wilderness they love.
The list is long for the past few hundred years when the likes of John Muir and nature people have crusaded together to contribute to the understanding and conservation of our environment. The list encompasses those Oroville park watchers who are joining the gathering of people concerned with the appearance and understanding of our wild heritage. I stand with you.
Courtesy of a Mercury Register Article