Human Impact

June 5, 2011
By , Park City, UT
Humans have many impacts on ecosystems and in Park City, one does not have to go far to see how we have encroached into animals habitat. Between the 1980’s and today, Park City is barely recognizable. Homes businesses, hotels and expanding resorts have popped up in every area. While most people consider this a good thing, this increase causes more traffic, more pollution and less open space for animals to roam.

One of the most obvious ways humans have impacted ecosystems is with housing. Neighborhoods are populated in places where animals once made their homes. Instead of a beautiful open valley where deer could winter, now there is Glenwild. Instead of nesting hawks, not there is a new high-speed quad. Some say that humans and animals can co-exist, but the problem is that people now populate former nesting areas. Animals keep getting pushed further and further into the mountains. Their habitat is disappearing though and the animals are finding fewer and fewer places to go. Many animals are hit by cars, or are killed by farmers or moved by wildlife officials to more appropriate areas. This is not a solution though because it causes a change in the delicate balance of an ecosystem.

A less obvious effect of humans impacted ecosystems is less obvious and even invisible in some cases. Many of the pollutants that humans use can cause serious problems. For example, most of the golf courses require fertilizers and different chemicals to keep their grounds in top shape. The fertilizers do green up the grass, but they also soak into the soil and are washed into small streams when it rains. All of these chemicals are not as helpful to wildlife. Fish have been killed or deformed by ingesting these chemicals. Without the fish, plant life sucks all of the oxygen out of the water making it impossible to sustain life for other animals. Another example of chemical pollution is in the air we breath. Emissions from cars pollute the air and cause respiratory problems for humans and animals. Additionally, this polluted air, when it rains, gets swept back to the ground where it becomes part of the water and infects the rivers and soil.

The situation is not hopeless in Park City, at least. Efforts are being made to preserve animal habitat and provide for open space. Our city raises money to buy land to preserve so that homes and businesses cannot be built in sensitive areas. Also, fences are being built to keep deer and other animals off the highways and freeways to keep animals from being run over. Signs line the highways to warn drivers that animals could be crossing in certain areas. Some golf courses are switching to eco-friendly, natural fertilizers to help keep rivers clean. Also efforts to encourage people to use buses or carpool are everywhere. The only real solution though is for people to increase their awareness about their impact so that we do not have as large of an impact on the ecosystems around us.

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