It is awesome how snow can reveal so much about an area. Like a fresh white canvas on the forest floor, deer paint their tracks along our trails and through the woods. Intricate byways and intersections beaten through snow and into the mud show the paths that our antlered friends use. I also knew that I was only the second human to walk our trails since Monday, with just one set of boot prints to guide my way. Throughout town, you can see which neighborhoods people walk in and those in which people only drive. You can tell which streets receive full sunlight and which remain all day in the shade of surrounding buildings. Within a few days of a big snow, we are also afforded a unique visualization of our non-point source pollution. If we think of those grey, brown, and black slushy piles as runoff (which they will be soon enough) we can see all of the dirty little secrets that the rain washes away without detection. Beyond the visual clues there are still hidden harms. The salt that ensures our safety on the roads can also ensure bad news for stream critters, roadside plants, and animals traveling nearby. The dissolved salts and solutions drift silently into the storm drains and ditches, flowing toward our waters. As you drive along this week, take notice of the slush piles as they shrink in the shining sun. Where is that snow melt headed? What is it carrying? Who will it effect?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you tire of thinking about the gross piles of sludge and snow, come out and take a walk in the woods. See how the forest handles snow melt, with a song of drips and trickles hidden in the rocks beneath the powdery white. See the trails and how they become clear as people and animals travel along them. See the last patches melting away in your favorite snowy spot, uncontaminated and still glowing white as they soak through leaves, moss, stones, and soil. As we often see, nature has an admirable way of handling those things that, here in civilization, we struggle with. Thanks for reading.

Rob Hunt

Watershed Center Coordinator

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