Recently, a friend took me on a walk through the Alfred A. Ring Park along Hogtown Creek. I was amazed by what I saw. It truly does look like the ravines in the Apalachicola National Forest. There were so many trees and it looked so wild, meandering around bends in the river and left to follow the laws of nature.
When trees fall, they are left to decompose just as they would in a wilderness area that wasn't in the middle of an urban setting. The wetland forest contains loblolly pine trees, as well as hickory, sweetgum, maple, cypress and cherry trees. There are many aquatic plants too, including native bamboo and rushes, but also invasive species like air potato and hydrilla. There are also sharks teeth and all kinds of fossils, as four tributaries feed into the creek.
The Hogtown Creek watershed is one of the largest in the area and covers about 20 square miles, including urban and suburban areas. Unfortunately, this makes it susceptible to runoff from shopping centers, parking, lots and roads, as well as human and animal waste. There are frequently high levels of bacteria in the creek, which make it unsafe for swimming. To keep waterways like this clean, which is critical, since it goes into the Aquifer at Haile Sink, it is important to change oil frequently, clean up pet waste, and plant native landscaping to filter pollutants. Hogtown Creek is beautiful, despite the pollution, and deserves to be cleaned up to protect its health as well as the health of the surrounding community. The health of the creek has also been affected by contamination from the Cabot Coppers Mine, a Superfund site that is in the process of being cleaned up.