Landscape Photography | A Not-So Happy Valley in Central NY

Some of the worst kind of people in my book are those that dump their garbage in forests and wild places.

trash in Happy Valley WMU in Parish NY

A Mis-Placement of Rubbish | click to enlarge


Seriously, I would love to know the thought process of a person who doesn’t think twice and feel a bit of guilt about dumping their waste in inappropriate places.

Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area is almost 9 thousand acres of a reforestation project from land that was originally cleared in the 1800’s for farming. During the depression the federal government bought up failing farms and re-developed the land for game management. I believe Happy Valley is the 3rd largest WMA in NYS. There are ponds, reservoirs, pines, hardwoods…grouse, woodcock, deer, turkey, waterfowl…

mallards in happy valley WMA

Mallards | click to enlarge

…and human trash.

Taking a drive through it is pretty depressing. Not so much a valley of happiness. Garbage strewn E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. Tires, mattresses and box springs, toilets (I mean, really??), bags of clothes, milk jugs filled with unknown substances. UGH! The list goes on. You could undoubtedly conduct a whole research project on the ecology of the garbage in this near 9 thousand acre forest.

garbage in Happy Valley WMA

(NOT A) Thrift Shop | click to enlarge


My disdain for people dumping human waste in the wrong places started when I was a little girl. Where I grew up in Chicago, there was a grassland area being developed for apartment buildings. I used to go for walks through the grassland prior to the building projects and peek under rocks and what not for bugs and other exciting wild things in an otherwise urban environment. In my little girl mind I was in a far away place on safari.


That is until I stumbled upon a pop can that a snake had slithered into, tried to come back out of and had cut itself up so bad that it died in the process of its struggle to escape. There is a silhouette photo in my wild america portfolio of a gorgeous red-necked grebe, but what you don’t see is that his legs and body is wrapped in fishing line. He had been struggling for a long time before I came to find him, and died only a couple hours later.


Anyway, I don’t know where the disconnect is in people who don’t think about what happens to their trash after they cast it aside, but in the case of Happy Valley, I wish for a couple things. I wish there was more education to those dumping to understand the effects of what they are doing on to a place that is so popular for recreation and wildlife management. Given that it is such a popular place for people to go and enjoy, I wish there would be more citizen action. If you see someone dumping or doing something suspicious, report it. Maybe one of the local hunting clubs, ATV or snow mobile clubs could organize a clean up day. And I wish the state and county personnel managing the area would spend more time enforcing and patrolling and keeping it clean. I don’t think that’s too much to ask when you are using taxpayer dollars to manage the area for wildlife, anyway.

Ok, off my soapbox rant.

Happy Valley WMA in CNY

Happy Valley | click to enlarge


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