Guest Editorials

White Park’s wood vital to our city’s future

I live in a mobile home park. White Park’s woods are a two-minute drive from my home.
I love these woods. Walking there has been my salvation. The woods have been my sanctuary.

The mobile home park where I live is primarily treeless. This is because to have a tree, a resident must pay extra each month for that tree. This mobile home park is managed by owners who live in California. Residents in my mobile home park own their homes but not the land.

Regardless of where MUB builds its pipeline, our MUB rates will be increased.

So, let us take the most environmentally healthy, clean and prosperous action for our community by saving our only wooded urban park.

As a young person I played tennis until I shattered my knee, vying for a place on a tennis team. I am acutely aware when I walk on the trails in White Park that I am walking on soil that is so much easier on my knees than walking on asphalt.

We have an abundance of asphalt and concrete in a city like ours. Large amounts of asphalt and concrete in a city create what is known as the urban heat island (UHI) effect. This makes our urban neighborhoods noticeably warmer than nearby wooded areas such as White Park. This UHI is a major factor in smog creation.

The last five years have been the hottest on record in the history of the planet. There’s more carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere now than anytime in human history. We lose between 200 and 2,000 species each year. Our wooded areas are a vital step in the climate battle.

When I am speaking about White Park, I am not simply referring to greenspace. I am talking about a significant wooded area that has an ecosystem. The woods of White Park provide a natural habitat for  different birds and animals. If we destroy the woods, we destroy this ecosystem. We humans cannot thrive without this biodiversity because we are all interconnected.

Progressive cities are encouraging the preservation of wooded parks because of the physical and mental health benefits to humans. Being in a wooded area can reduce stress in as little as 10 minutes.

Even a small increase in the number of wooded city parks can make a big difference when it comes to air pollution. Air pollution can increase the risk of certain cancers.

Our wooded areas can also save the city of Morgantown money. With the increase of extreme weather patterns, trees are an efficient way of managing storm water. They are less expensive than sewers and drainage ditches made out of concrete. The unpaved soil and trees absorb excess water.

The walking and biking trails of  White Park are extremely important for all of us. This includes low-income families and others who cannot afford gym memberships, bikes or classes.

White Park is crucial to the healthy development of Morgantown. It needs to be a major part of city planning as we move forward. These woods benefit the economy of Morgantown because they are used by the entire community, folks living outside of town and visitors to our area.

We are suffocating ourselves by cutting down our wooded areas. We had no awareness of this when we destroyed and cut out wooded areas 50 years ago. We have that awareness today but we continue to destroy our wooded areas. Let’s stop.

Elizabeth M. Sneathen  is a retired educator, who lives in Morgantown. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.