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In today’s world, human society has squeezed out the natural world in many ways. Through technology and other modern advances, people no longer have to work the land for their food, or cautiously venture into uncharted territory alert for whatever wildlife might lurk there (remember the Wizard of Oz: “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”) Our children grow up with a distorted understanding of where food comes from, or how our clothing is constructed, or why certain ingredients go into the substances we use every day. Go to the store and buy whatever you want. Drive the paved highways and byways to reach your destination. Who of us understands the ecological balance in this world, and our impact on that balance. Nature preserves were created both to keep certain areas protected from human encroachment, and to educate. If one takes the time to wander through a preserve, they are found everywhere, it won’t take long to begin to see the signs explaining what she (or he) is seeing. How does a bog sustain life? What kinds of life can one find in a bog, and why is it important? Do bears really live in the woods around here? What do they eat, and do they ever wander into our neighborhoods? Why are they important? Wow! I never felt a beaver tail before! They sure do make a loud noise! I didn’t know there were so many creepy crawly things living in a pond, and did you see the turtle sunning itself on that log in the middle of the lagoon? The exploration and questions are endless when one visits a nature preserve. And if you aren’t particularly in the mood to learn that day, preserves provide beautiful walks and paths through a natural setting. When I am stressed out, a stroll with my camera through a preserve refreshes my spirit and clears the brain. I am grateful for nature preserves.

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