Forgotten Westham Creek

On the first day of class we took a field trip to explore our little watershed, the Westham Creek watershed. As we made our way to the “top” of the watershed on campus I thought about how little we knew about the water cycle within the small piece of land we will eventually spend four years of our lives living, working, and playing on. Dr. Lookingbill explained that runoff from the surrounding neighborhoods as well as the County Club of Virginia made up the watershed that also encompasses our campus. Most water enters through two creeks on opposite ends of the Westhampton Lake, near the gazebo, and then flows under commons and reforms the Westham Creek before it joins the James.

Dr. Lookingbill left us to explore and observe the water features for a few minutes before finally making our way back to the classroom. As I walked along the creek I thought about how few students had ever actually seen the creek I was now standing beside. It is safely tucked away behind the baseball fields, at the very end of K lot. No one would venture that far back to park. I have noticed construction equipment parked at the end, so I suppose maintenance people have seen it. There was a slightly dilapidated pitching net back there too, so the baseball team could have caught of glimpse of the area too. Maybe there are some students who go for walks and veer of the intended trails to discover this small space.

How many other parts of our campus are like this? Seldom unexplored areas forgotten because they are not on a path. It is a scary thought to realize how well we stick to the paths created for us. Yet there are there are also paths throughout campus where students walk over and over again, creating their own paths. Eventually UR recognizes these paths and they are added into the network of bricks connecting our dorms to classes to dining areas to favorite study spots. So perhaps it is scary that we walk past these forgotten places like the creek without recognizing them, but by not seeing them we are preserving them for those who might decide to seek out the unexplored.

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