Arlington has very few undisturbed natural habitats left. Hills Hill is one. There is a blueberry patch on the meadow's edge. You can hear birdsong in the spring. Possum, woodchucks, chipmunks in the summer. Soaring owls and hawks are both spend time at Hill's Hill.
And our children need real connections with nature for physical and mental health. Recreation in nature is critical for our community. From dog walks to biking to quiet reflection. The whole community learned this during COVID.
After years of neglect, there's a great opportunity to invest in the recovering habitat. But habitats need more than a handful of trees. A healthy eco-system starts with grass, bushes, berries, and seeds. These feed the birds mice, and moles which support the predators. It's much more inter-connected and complex than trees.
A ski slope has trees - but it's far from a healthy ecosystem. A parkway is not a park. And Hill's Hill riddled with trails, a pump track, a skills zone, and a flow area would be diminished to the point of failure. Nevermind heavy human traffic and noise.
The Pump Track (see image at left from the feasibility study) is our primary concern. It doesn't belong in the Hill's Hill woods. 8000 square feet of active recreation land is a bad fit for the small woods. Let's move it out of the core woods/meadow to a suitable site.
Bike trails and nature can co-exist! With careful design they can have minimal impact on trees and habitat. By engaging habitat experts in trail design we can ensure a good solution that works for bikers, walkers and the ecosystem.
School groups and community partners have already expressed interest in helping restore Hill's Hill. ArMI has done multiple weed-outs of invasives. Biking groups have cleaned up trash. Let's use this community energy to restore the area's habitat, foster environmental education and build community bonds.
Finally, climate change anxiety plagues many kids. Hill's Hill can help them understand and counter climate change with concrete habitat projects at school. Let kids feel the joy of playing a positive part in habitat recovery.