REGIONAL HAZE – The last week in January I had the opportunity to travel to Oklahoma. As the apprentice focusing on regional haze, I found it important to actually lay eyes on one of the places that my work has been focused on over the past few months.
Over the course of the week, I spent time with community residents, park lovers, and elected officials who all had a deep care and concerned for the Wichita Mountains National Refuge. I had the opportunity to present to the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, the Lawton City Council and federal employees at the Wichita Mountains National Refuge, urging them to act and ask EPA to deny the do-nothing Texas plan and implement stronger haze pollution standards for the sake of their beloved refuge. Even when I wasn’t in a formal meeting, I spoke with everyone and anyone who would listen to me about the haze pollution and excitedly people were engaged and empowered to learn and do more.
William (Bill) Cunningham, is a resident of Meers, OK. A small town just north of the Wichitas. Bill has been aware of the haze pollution for many years now and welcomed the opportunity to do an interview with State Impact – a local Oklahoma NPR affiliate – on his experiences and the impact that the haze has on the beauty of the Refuge. Bill took me on a hike up Mount Scott, the highest peak in the Wichita Mountains National Refuge. From the top, I was able to see the haze pollution first hand. If you ever travel to the Wichitas, I highly recommend taking the time to visit Mount Scott.
It does not matter which federally protected land you visit, you learn something new and experience your own connection with nature and the environment. On my last morning I took a hike around Lost Lake and I tried to picture the views obstructed by a white, smoky filter. In those quiet moments, with the wind howling in my ear and the view of the bison huddled in the horizon, I realized even more, why these parks and refuges are worth protecting. They are American treasures.
Feel free to contact me if you wish to learn more and get involved on this issue! Written by Sarah Sharif – firstname.lastname@example.org – (650) 862-8779 – Follow me on Twitter @Sarah0Sharif