Clean-Up: Pitch in Saturday at Riverside 2014.05.14

Saturday morning offers a perfect opportunity for area residents to become better acquainted or re-aquainted with Riverside Natural Area. A clean-up effort begins at 9 a.m.—a project that will be fueled by volunteers.

Riverside has moved onto the city council agenda after complaints about the condition of the former Tourist Camp were lodged. Brenda Spiess, head of the council's public works committee, developed plans to improve the city park and that begins Saturday morning with removal of trash and cleaning a family picnic area.

We've heard a lot of support stated for Riverside recently, but possibly without the remainder of the name attached: Natural Area.

One suggestion is to remove the poison ivy from the "natural area." Another suggestion is to introduce a non-native plant in hopes that it will repel mosquitoes from the "natural area." Another suggestion is to keep this "natural area" mowed to discourage the dumping of trash and another suggestion is to mow in order to remove the habitat where insects will flourish.

People say they want a natural area—underlaid by the word "nature"—but what they really want is control over nature. Poison ivy gives rashes. Nettles sting. Mosquitoes leave itching welts. Ticks suck blood. Cow parsnip fools some people into thinking it's giant hogweed. And besides, its flowers smell bad.

By proclamation of city council, Riverside is a designated natural area, a place where nature abounds, a place where not everyone will feel comfortable. Only time will tell how nature will fare at Riverside, whether it will be allowed to thrive or whether it needs to be controlled.