This column is usually about the behaviors and characteristics of plants and animals at Camp Salmen Nature Park. Today’s article is about the main animal of the park and of the planet - Humans (Homo sapiens).
Our visitors are almost always good citizens – the kind of people who would want to visit a nature park. Families, couples, individuals and groups stroll serenely about, taking in the surroundings, enjoying nature. The young and feisty run and play. Some picnic in the shade of a tree or sit idly by the bayou. Some hit the trails and range further afield for the exercise. Some seem to make it a point of staying out of sight. That’s all right, as long as they follow national, state, parish and park rules. Most naturally know what to do: “leave nothing but footprints.” However, like rabbit scat on a stump, some leave telltale signs.
We keep the park free of litter so it’s noticeable when it happens; I guess some people just can’t help themselves. Clothing tags from freshly purchased duds for photo-shoots are a big item as are those little cellophane straw wrappers from kid’s drink boxes. Cigarette butts are always a biggie. Flicking them to the ground must be part of the ritual of the habit. My favorites are empty beverage containers flung too far off the trail to easily retrieve but close enough to be seen. I heartily thank all those who are responsible with the paper, wood, plastic, glass and metals they generate. Indeed, at the end of most of the days when we’ve had a lot of visitors you couldn’t tell they’d been here.
Kids seem to be fascinated with rocks. They gather them up from our parking lot and arrange them in little piles here and there or toss them about. Little boys love to rustle up sticks from the brush, swing them around for a while, then ditch them, usually near the Pavilion.
By and large I have high praise for “my people,” the public, our customers. We try to keep the park looking nice for them and are working to make it even better.