|Our Environment: Issue 18 Autumn 1999|
Warden Barry Saunders has become a familiar sight at Washington Skatepark every Saturday and Sunday. His priority is to make sure the park is safe for the younger skateboarders who flock there. "It's like a family park during the weekends it's quietened down a lot now," says Barry a former karate instructor who is trained in first aid.
Nearby in Opawa, another warden sets out early each morning armed with a rubbish bag to walk the banks of the Heathcote River between Beckford Road and the Opawa footbridge downstream.
A warden for about 10 years, his main objective is to check that the river and its banks are clean. That means picking up rubbish and painting out graffiti. He has also helped Council staff fish out a double mattress and a sackful of stolen pharmacy drugs from the Heathcote.
He is modest about his role: "If you're going for a walk you might as well be doing something."
Ali Taylor-Hayhurst of the Council's Parks Unit says increased recreational use of walkways and parks puts pressure on the natural environment. Reporting of deliberate vandalism and damage is very important to protect our public spaces. "Wardens also have a major role in education of the public about fragile areas where plants are regenerating or wildlife is nesting or has feeding grounds," she says.
Park rangers or trade waste officers are available round the clock for reports and inquiries regarding offences or problems needing further investigation, surveillance or back up.
The City's honorary wardens, who carry a warrant of appointment issued by the City Council, include 149 members of the public, 36 Community Board members and 24 Councillors.
Councillors and Community Board members are appointed automatically upon election to office. Other wardens volunteer or are nominated by residents' groups, Council officers or other wardens.
If you are interested in becoming an honorary warden please contact Ali Taylor-Hayhurst at the Parks Unit, or telephone her on 941 8633.
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