Top 5 Environmentally Influential Places in the US

Teddy Roosevelt said, “I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” I would not have my environmental perspective had it not been for these 5 places. As an environmental professional, I work to create a balance between a clean beautiful natural environment, human health, useable land, and productive facilities. Therefore, my Top 5 environmentally influential places are the following.

1. Southwestern and Central Pennsylvania, for its geology and geography. The old rocks, rolling hills and valleys, the landslides, the coal. It’s where I developed an appreciation for earth sciences. First, on my own spending time in those hills and valleys and second. Second, it’s where I studied geology at Penn State University.

Geology of SW and central PA.

Geology of SW and central PA.

2. Bakersfield CA, specifically in the Kern River oil fields northeast of Bakersfield. It’s a sea of pump jacks with mountains to the east and endless farmland to the north and west. I only spent a year working in these oil fields, but I learned so much that year about the oil and gas industry. It really set a tone for balancing production vs. environmental, health and safety. I also learned a lot about how a corporate “commitment to safety” isn’t necessarily a commitment when production is on the line.
Overview of the Kern River field from Panorama Park, courtesy Antandrus at en.wikipedia.

Overview of the Kern River field from Panorama Park, courtesy Antandrus at en.wikipedia.

3. New York, NY, and not just Manhattan, but the rivers, bridges, and coastlines. Most people don’t associate the big cities with the word “environment.” But my time working in New York impressed on me the need to give more attention toward clean, healthy cities. Not to only focus on preserving our natural open space.

4. Denver, CO. Before moving to Denver I had the common outsiders view that the city is a laid back, ski town with a football team. It is that, but that’s not all. As the only major city for hundreds of miles in any direction, Denver mixes the cultures of the outdoor enthusiasts with what is described as a “cow town.” It’s where I was introduced to the environmental balance of the mountain west – preservation, water, natural resources, and recreation use.

Denver

5. Montana. It truly is big sky country. The mountain west is often overlooked in our country, primarily due to the low population density. I wish people from around the country could spend some time in Montana (only briefly of course). You can’t appreciate its size, scope and beauty merely with photos and movies. You need to spend time walking, driving, skiing, running, or fishing under the big sky.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

What locations have shaped your environmental perspective? Is it a national park, a city, your local running trail?

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