Connecticut has 139 state parks and forests, ranging from shoreline beaches and wetlands to rolling hills and mountains. These preserves offer visitors a range of activities like hiking and photography. Additional protected areas are Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) of which there are 112 in Connecticut, totalling up to 32,000 acres. WMAs are focused on habitat and wildlife conservation and, with the necessary licensure, allow residents opportunities to hunt, fish and trap.
Despite these ecosystems being specially preserved as wild spaces, the presence of humans is still heavily felt. I always encounter people while hiking in state parks and forests, most of whom are respectful to the flora and fauna. However, I occasionally come across someone who shows complete disregard for the environment. The seven principles of Leave No Trace must be learned and followed by anyone who wishes to enter a preserved natural space: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of others. By leaving no trace that you were ever there, you further the ecosystem’s survival.
People at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn. feed seagulls. The National Park Service strongly advises against feeding wildlife, as they can become sick or dependent on people for food.
We have come to recognize litter as a normal part of the natural world and a typical consequence of people enjoying the outdoors when it simply is a demonstration of human laziness, selfishness and carelessness.
Despite humans encroaching upon and damaging protected spaces, wildlife still manages to thrive, adapting itself to the changing world we have created for it.