Archive for February 9, 2008

Another so-called brilliant idea to sell green space

thumbnail1.jpgI see city councilman Kris Gulick wants Cedar Rapids to consider selling property it owns outside the city limits. And he has eyes on a place of refuge not only for gardeners, but for a rare abundance of wildlife that is getting crowded into ever-shrinking parcels of land.

What possible value could those 90 or so acres have next to Squaw Creek Park if they aren’t part of the 18-hole golf course? It’s only prairie grass, planted next to garden plots where city dwellers like me can lease space that we don’t have at home. Along with a summers-long supply of fresh vegetables for our families, a sense of community and friendships have grown.

To Gulick and others, what better place to smack down a new housing development. To me, it’s where my sons and other city kids have a chance to connect with nature. The  prairie grasses are home to quail, ground squirrels and numerous other critters.  I’ve seen dozens of our state bird, the goldfinch, descend on the sunflowers my sons grow at the city leased gardens –  birds that, for some reason, no longer come to our backyard in Cedar Rapids. 

I have shadowy “Bigfoot-style” video footage of a tiny gray fox that crept near the gardens on two  occasions and shot pictures of an unusual snake that I wanted my naturalist sister to identify.

I saw a whole field lit up with lightning bugs that rivaled the best fireworks display that the Cedar Rapids Freedom Fest has ever paid for and an early evening that I like to remember as the night of the dragonflies.

Nearby, in some scrub trees that are obviously worthless to the city, I watched a brilliant deep blue bird fly back and forth that my grandmother helped me identify as an indigo bunting, one that even she has rarely seen in her 90-plus years of bird watching. If you’ve never seen one, you’ve missed one of Iowa’s most stunning birds. If the acres next to the park become another development, our chances of seeing another indigo bunting become about as rare as hitting a hole-in-one. 

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