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The Daily Tar Heel

Preserve nature, but enjoy it too

Sometimes I use this column to explain a new invention or policy, sometimes to encourage everyone to adopt a more eco-friendly way of living. But today I want to do something a little different: I’m going to tell you about my weekend.

I woke up on Saturday to sunlight streaming in through my curtains — which usually are pretty sufficient at blocking any morning light daring to interrupt my weekend sleep.

However, with the knowledge that it was probably going to be one of the last weekends before the temperatures starts dropping, I decided that my previously planned day in the library was just not in the cards.

After some quick Google searching and enlisting a few friends, I found several hiking trails at Jordan Lake State Park that looked promising. Forty five minutes and $6 (for parking) later, we were in the middle of a forest.

The park was beautiful. The trail wasn’t hard at all and the views of the lake from the overlook were really amazing. Stopping for pictures and one minor cut (no Band-Aid required) made the whole hike about two hours long, easily doable on a lazy Saturday.

According to the map the park ranger gave me, Jordan Lake Park is crisscrossed with trails for various levels of hikers. You can also kayak there, or swim or just drive through the hilly roads and appreciate the view.

There are plenty of good nature walks even closer to campus as well. Another one of my new favorite spots is Battle Park near Forest Theater. Though not quite as scenic as Jordan Lake, you can literally walk a few feet off campus and be on a pretty decent trail.

If you’re unwilling to head outside on your own, UNC’s Outdoor Education Center leads guided hiking, kayaking and even rock climbing tours all around the state. And if you’re just not into physical activity at all, the N.C. Botanical Garden is on Mason Farm Road and makes for a much prettier locale to write a paper than the Davis Library stacks.

I’m not trying to sound like a tourist brochure. I just want to explain how, even when it feels like we’re caught up with studying and class and the UNC campus is the only thing we’ve seen for weeks, there is more to Chapel Hill than Franklin Street.

We pride ourselves on being one of the most environmentally friendly universities out there, but sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves of what it is we’re actually protecting: The Earth’s natural gifts.

We all know environmentalism means advocating for the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment.

But being eco-friendly means more than studying climate patterns or crunching data on composting.

In order to preserve the earth, we need to really appreciate it. And that means experiencing what the Earth has given us now, so we will ensure we can continue to enjoy it in the future.

Holly Beilin is a columnist from The Daily Tar Heel. She is a junior global studies major from Weston, Fla. Contact her at hbeilin@live.com.

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