“Mill Creek Park” by Luke Stoeber, South Range student. Youngstown is made up of a multitude of different individuals, all with their own thoughts and opinions on the city they live in. Instead of always having blogs written by the City of You’s creative team, we’re going to change the perspective a bit and allow Youngstown’s youth to shine. A group of high schoolers have been taking a summer course at Youngstown State University with the City of You’s own RJ Thompson. In this course, they’re learning how to blog, make graphics and be more active in the community. They were asked to write a blog about something within city limits that they think should be recognized  more by those who live in Youngstown. The responses that the City of You received were too good not to be shared – so here they are. They are edited a bit for clarity, but are being presented with the same style and nuance that the writer used when he or she wrote it originally. We’re excited to present a new perspective on Youngstown from some of its brightest young minds. Enjoy!

Mill Creek Park has become Youngstown’s leading outdoor area to adventure and explore. The park offers expansive lakes to kayak and fish, trails for hiking and biking, and unique and diverse wildlife native to Northeastern Ohio. However, Mill Creek shares many
of the same issues that national parks across the country are enduring.

Mill Creek’s natural beauty and the delicate ecosystems which reside within its borders are being threatened by pollution. As a result, the preservation of Youngstown’s landmark park has come to the attention of citizens across the area.

One of the recent struggles experienced by the park was the contamination of its lakes and streams by bacteria. According to the Vindicator, the outbreak resulted from the introduction of raw sewage overflowing into the park’s water sources after heavy rains. Consequently, huge numbers of fish and wildlife died, and Mill Creek’s waters were closed for over a year.

In addition to the bacteria, the park has been battling other issues such as litter. The article goes on to describe how litter such as plastic bottles and bags also threaten wildlife.

Steps are being taken to reverse these pollutants and restore the park’s natural integrity. For example, another article by WKBN describes Earth Day cleanups where local citizens and scout troops scour the park in search of trash. Over the last 15 years, thousands of bags of trash and recyclables have been collected. Water quality has continually improved after sewage leaks and other contributions toward the bacteria outbreak have been sealed.

“This is a really teachable moment for us to all understand that we play a role in the quality of our watershed,” Mahoning County Commissioner Pat Sweeney said, “From farmers on down to what you do with your waste water, what you do with your oil.”

While Mill Creek remains a beautiful place to visit, other national parks are facing similar problems. According to National Geographic, industrial smog is poisoning wildlife and creating a haze over the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and other national parks, such as Yellowstone, are battling pollution as well. Similar to Mill Creek, these parks have unified to promote cleanup efforts. In addition, legal action against manufacturing companies is being taken to reduce ground, water, and air pollution sweeping across America’s natural preserves.

To learn how to get involved in protecting Mill Creek Park, visit their website at millcreekmetroparks.org/.