Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Non-Park III--Wilderness or Wasteland?

I finally got together with some friends and explored the non-park, wilderness area I was commenting on earlier.

It's an approximately two-block area wedged in between the back of some stores and two very busy roads.

And it has its good points, like funny, man-shaped trees in front of gas-stations, brilliantly colored dragonflies, a number of small birds, including birds of prey that seem to like it there, and the sheer incongruity of its existence.

They make it seem like maybe Bartlett might actually appreciate having the place named after him.

The part they don't mention in the little city blurbs, and the part the pictures don't show too well, is that the "basically natural condition" of the park, resting as it does on it being "unpatrolled and unsupervised" means that the existing paths are thick with broken glass, and that the one waterway still present after the long dry spell we've had wouldn't tempt anyone to swim, boat, dive, or even touch the stuff, and I'm not sure that the next generation of dragonflies won't be mutants. In addition, there a pervasive smell of dog-poop throughout the area since quite a number of dog-walkers apparently feel no need to pick up after their canine companions. This, plus the glass makes for singularly unpleasant walking.

The last time anyone cleaned up in there was a month ago when the very brave members of the Orange County Conservation Corps went in. I'm not sure how long it was before that--I've been one of a lot of people not paying attention to the place.

And I'm afraid I don't have a solution either: I don' t know if the city has the money to maintain the place the way it does Bolsa Chica (another, more succesful city wilderness).

It's a really great idea having a pocket wilderness out behind the Albertson's store, and there is stuff down there that is worth preserving--mysterious tangles glimpsed from the roadway, funny looking trees, some scary nooks, the aforementioned dragonflies, and even the fact that kids can carry shovels around in there and dig giant holes for no apparent reason beyond the digging itself. I would hate to see the area vanish.

But there are also problems, issues of waste and neglect that threaten to turn the place into a wasteland, a twisted, dystopian blot on the landscape, and I don't want to see that happen, either.

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