Appreciate Nature – Ogden’s Nature is So Accessible!

When I left Ogden 10 years ago, I had no appreciation for the outdoors. I did not learn that until I was living in California for several years. However, when I moved back to Ogden, I brought that appreciation back with me. I see Ogden with refreshed eyes, and I’m in awe of the nature here.

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But I think there was a benefit for me to gain my nature appreciation in the Bay Area of California. The Bay Area is an extremely urban area with three major U.S. cities – San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco. Thank goodness the urban planners and conservation groups understood the importance of nature and did a great job of keeping nature very accessible to those who live in the Area. But with over 8 million people there, nature was not something to take for granted for. If it was going to be nice and beautiful for everyone, each person enjoying nature had to do his or her part. I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like if everyone just left their garbage on the trails.

So I’ve already been here for two months and I’ve been out exploring the trails and walking along the Ogden River Parkway. Just today, I went to the Ogden Nature Center North located at 1176 N. Mountain Road. It is completely free to use the trails in the park and open to public use, so no real fencing. It’s not a long trail, but the trees are gorgeous and it has marshlands when it’s not totally a drought. It is the perfect place to go for a leisurely kid friendly hike.

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I’m also an avid flyfisherwoman. I love fishing since I’m out in nature and enjoy the flow of the river. Honestly, for me, it’s not about catching the fish, but how fishing connects me with the river environment. There are not many cities in the US that have two gorgeous rivers flowing through. And finally the powers that be in Ogden, finally realized how special that is and created the Ogden River Parkway trailing both the Ogden and Weber Rivers.

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Scrambling down the banks and hoping on rocks to get to a nice place to cast, brings me right down in the river. I can see all the trees and the rocks that the water cuts around. Yesterday, I even saw a giant muskrat swimming upstream. I have a few ducks that I like to call my friends since they’ll visit while I’m fishing. Right now the Ogden River doesn’t have a lot water flowing, so it’s easier to get down to the river and enjoy it.

One of my favorite spots on the Ogden River is near the High Adventure Park at Grant Ave and 18th Street. There is a nice walkway down to the river so easy access. If you’re daring, you can even wander under the bridge going across the river on Grant. Plenty of creep crawly things hanging out down there J

So from the descriptions of two of my favorite and very accessible nature places in Ogden, I hope you can see how much I love the nature here. I definitely want everyone to be able to enjoy and experience the outdoors – not just me, not just my friends, not just the people who live here right now, but also the generations that are still to come.

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So my lovely Ogden peeps, I hate to do this, but here comes my lecture! Yes, we live in an urban area, and I’m so glad that our city as it grows is already recognizing the importance of access to nature. Ogden is really working hard to flaunt the nature this city has to offer and creating it as a major selling point for why this town is so great. But that means that each of us who enjoys the trails and the rivers need to leave them as close to the nature state as it was before we entered it. I was shocked at the amount of trash and garbage lining the trails and floating down the river. I’ve already caught more plastic bags than I have fish. Yesterday, when I was fishing down by the High Adventure Park, there was a grocery cart pushed in the river.

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I know you might not have a garbage bag on you when walking on the trails, but that is no excuse for not carrying out what you brought in. Clean up your messes when out in nature. That garbage doesn’t belong there and doesn’t leave it nice for those who are next to come. I realize not everyone is going to listen to me, so I know pledge to bring a garbage bag with me on every trail and river outing. My goal is definitely to leave nature a little bit better than I found it.

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Next, we need to talk about graffiti and vandalism. I’m a huge graffiti and street art fan. I’ve travelled the world photographing streetart. However, street art is an urban and city art form. The purpose is to reclaim urban area and turn it into a creative expression that many urban environments try to manicure out. Urban areas have already stripped nature away from us, and are the spaces where we negotiate where we fit into and live with society. Streetart typically carves out a space within that urban society to reflect on people that the economic system is trying to leave behind. Check out Banksy or Shepard Fairy for more on that. And I’ve already found some great examples of street art in Ogden.

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Honestly, this blog isn’t about street art, other than to say, it doesn’t really belong in nature. Nature belongs to us all regardless of our placement in society. It is something to be shared and enjoyed by all and not be individuals who want to spread their tag or graffiti up a rock. It’s the wrong environment! All you are doing is showing ownership over the nature world, which is there for all of us. Leave your graffiti and tags in the urban environment, make you claim in the urban world, and the society that you live, but leave the nature alone.

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There is so much graffiti in the Ogden Nature Center North that it was heart breaking. This is a non-profit that is trying to carve out natural space for all of us to use and enjoy. The brand new directionals that the Nature Center put up this week have already been tagged. So people are abusing the gift the Nature Center has donated to Ogden citizens. Many boulders have blue hearts and blue smiley faces. There is even a giant bolder painted silver. These rocks have existed for much longer than we have and hopefully much longer than we do. They tend to remind me that the world is so much bigger than who I am, and I honor their existence. So yes, it makes me sad to see them vandalized.

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So before you head out to hike the trails, explore the rivers, or boat in the lakes surrounding Ogden, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace Principles. It will make the Ogden’s nature all the more beautiful and enjoyable for all who live and visit this gorgeous city.

leave no trace principles 1Source: Wilderness.net

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Christina Miller (crellim), wander and photographer
www.crellim.com

Christina’s creative philosophy is to find beauty in the mundane or unexpected. She’s been pursuing her passion for photography since 2008, and is excited to share her work in her first exhibit. Christina’s style of photography is urban and street, and she tends to use small un-intrusive cameras like her iPhone or a point and shoot Panasonic.

Guest bloggers are locals who love Ogden! To become a guest blogger, email Mikaela@indieogdenutah.com.