On my way into a local nature preserve, I was tickled by the comments of a couple of elementary school aged kids directed to their grandparents.
“Guess what we saw!” A boy exclaimed. Without waiting for a response, he gushed, “We saw a frog as big Jamey’s head!”
Not to be outdone, the little girl added, “We saw a big bird swallow a huge fish!”
As an educator, a nature lover and an East Las Vegas resident, moments like this make me proud to live in a community that has created such a wonderful place out of what was once a wasteland. When I walk in the wetlands I am surprised by a different treat every time I visit. Last Wednesday I had an extended encounter with a Belted Kingfisher that was flitting back and forth along the Monson Channel.
On another visit, one of the ponds northeast of the Duck Creek Trail head was partially drained making it ideal for viewing all sorts of interesting shore birds such as American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts, Sand Pipers.
I have seen Great Horned Owls, beaver, coyote, all kinds of ducks, raptors and other wildlife.
I enjoy walking quietly by myself or with my wife, observing nature quietly. Others come to the park and participate in organized classes and activities geared toward learning more about what the park and its nature have to offer.
By contrast, sixteen years ago, when I first visited the area that is now the Clark County Wetlands Park, all I saw where old discarded tires, piles of trash, abandoned cars and shanty towns amid miles and miles of tamarisk trees.
The powers that be be saw what was happening to the area, the wildlife including endangered species, and the water that was running through the area back into Lake Mead. They decided to clean up the area and restore and develop it into a series of mitigation ponds and natural habitats that would help clean up the waste water from Las Vegas as it heads back down Las Vegas Wash into the source of drinking water that is Lake Mead.
Now, if you walk through the park, you feel as though you are in a completely natural area with all of nature's creatures living out their lives in the natural way. There is evidence of the daily struggle between prey and predator.
If you want to see what the Wetlands Park used to look like, all you have to do is look at the area next to the road between Sam Boyd Stadium and the Duck Creek Trail Head. This area is not part of a nature preserve and it is not maintained or cleaned up, so it is a good example what happens to nature as a result of unbridled human impact.
The governmental agencies that have partnered over the past two decades to create and maintain this great resource, have done a commendable job. I look forward to seeing the park in another five or ten years after all the recently planted trees along the wiers mature.
Keep up the good work!