There is a new branch of psychology that contends that involvement with nature is necessary to our mental health. Living in Black Rock, we have an amazing natural resource within our community -- the Ash Creek tidal estuary. The Ash Creek tidal estuary is one of the few remaining feeding stopover areas for palearctic shorebirds as they travel from Hudson Bay in the Arctic Circle to as far south as Argentina. This fabulous migration occurs in the fall and spring.
The long distance, high Arctic migratory shorebirds include: Sanderlings, Semiparmated Plovers, and Black Bellied Ploveds, all of which are on Watch Lists and become listed as Endangered Species. The Red Knots are the migratory shorebirds that make the trek from the high Arctic to Argentina and back again. They are totally reliant upon mudflats for their food (analids and flatworms). There are very few shallow tidal mudflats along the shoreline in Connecticut and none that are as undeveloped as the Ash Creek tidal estuary in an urban area. What we have is unique and requires our vigilance and protection to prevent structures from encroaching on the mudflats. Open country wind birds, born and raised in the Arctic, will avoid structures. In fact, the first structures that this birds are likely to encounter on their flight from the Arctic are along the shoreline in Connecticut. As these areas become developed, there is a corresponding decrease in the number of migratory shorebirds according to Milan Bull of the Connecticut Audubon Society.
Ash Creek also has abundant shellfish, finfish, and plant life, which brings us great pleasure. As well as other birds, such as the Osprey, herons, and egrets. Kayakers in Ash Creek enjoy quiet paddling in the midst of all the natural beauty, but it brings joy to those of us who simply enjoy its beauty on our walks or as a subject of our artwork or photography.
Theodore Roszake, who first coined the term "ecopsychology" in his 1992 book, Voice of the Earth believes that we have an innate emotional bond with the natural world. Distancing ourselves from nature can have negative psychological consequences, therefore, conservation efforts are not just of benefit to our ecosystem, they are of immediate benefit to our own psychological sense of well being. Getting kids involved with nature is vitally important, not only for their physical fitness, but for their emotional and spiritual health. In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, the author, Richard Louv, argues that kids spend too much time indoors on the computer, television, and video games.
Ash Creek is is within walking distance for many urban school aged children and provides an opportunity for them to observe and experience a tidal ecosystem. We should encourage the possibilities inherent in reconnecting urban schoolchildren with this amazing natural resource.