Environmental Almanac

Enviro Resolutions for 2017

I always resolve to fish more. Here, I add a few other goals for 2017.
Tight shot of a great blue heron's head and neck with dull gray background.

Great blue herons are among the local wildlife the author resolves to appreciate. This one frequents the Second Street Basin in Champaign. Rob Kanter

When I was younger and found myself cornered for New Year’s resolutions, I offered up only this: I resolved to do more fishing in the new year than I had in the preceding one. As I’ve advanced in years I’ve added others, but most of them have something of the same self-serving quality. So.

In 2017, I resolve to stay attuned to the local environment as I go about my business, and encourage others to cultivate their own appreciation for the wonders of the nearby natural world. I already have a story in the works based on this. It’s about North America’s only marsupial, an animal has adapted very well to life urban life.

In addition to appreciating the natural world, I resolve to express appreciation for the many people who help to maintain—and sometimes reshape—the local environment. This turns out to be such an extensive list I can’t even begin to name names, and I’m sure to neglect some who deserve credit.

To start, there are the city staffers and policymakers responsible for creating naturalized public spaces in Urbana and Champaign. As you may already know, I’m especially fond of the Second Street Basin and Scott Park, which provide wonderful opportunities for seeing birds and other wildlife right in town.

Our local governments also deserve recognition for efforts to promote active transportation, and for policy moves that liberate people to produce their own food, especially to keep backyard hens.

Much of the “nearby natural world” I appreciate so much is accessible thanks to the Champaign and Urbana Park Districts and the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. I’m thankful for the workers who maintain prairies, woodlands and wetlands for us to enjoy, and the educators who help us stay connected with the natural world. In addition, I’m thankful for all of the dedicated volunteers—especially East Central Illinois Master Naturalists—who enable those entities to do all they do on constrained budgets.  

I’m thankful for the organizations through which citizens of east central Illinois come together to promote conservation, whether by purchasing and/or maintaining land, providing opportunities for education and recreation or advocating for policies that protect the public’s interests in clean air, clean water and healthy wildlife.

While I’m all for being attuned to the local environment and appreciating the people whose work benefits it, I also remind myself not to lose sight of the bigger picture; we won’t meet the global challenges of environmental justice, climate change and species loss without changes in policy on much larger scales.

At the very least, in 2017, I resolve to communicate my concerns to representatives at the state and national levels, whether I think they already agree with me or not. Or maybe I should say, I resolve to communicate my concerns to representatives at the state and national levels especially if they do not already see things my way.

In 2017 I also resolve to continue the project of reducing my use of fossil fuel use at home, although I’m not sure what the next steps there will be. We replaced our ancient furnace and air conditioner with a geothermal system last year, and we installed solar panels on our roof. When I figure out what comes next there, I’ll be sure to let you know.