A dose of nature can help heal what ails you. That’s the message from a book titled “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative” by Florence Williams.
Williams writes how “Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Wordsworth composed while hiking over the heath; and Nikola Tesla conceived his idea of an electric motor while visiting a park.” Citing new research, Williams shows how spending time in the natural world can “improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships.”
Arches National Park Service ranger Rachel Joha will speak to this issue during a free presentation titled “Nature’s Helping Hand” at the Moab Information Center on Thursday, Aug. 8, at 6 p.m.
As a park ranger, Joha has given numerous interpretive talks over the past couple of years. She said she jumped at the opportunity to give a longer lecture at the MIC, based on scientific research presented in Williams’ book about the benefits of spending time outside.
“She talks a lot about the different ‘doses’ of nature we can get,” and engaging all the senses, Joha said. “It’s interesting material.”
Williams writes about the impacts on health and well-being that occur after a short period outdoors versus spending several days outside, and how city dwellers can apply nature’s benefits to their own lives.
After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Joha completed an internship at Rocky Mountain National Park — before being hired by the National Park Service.
“I wanted a job that could get me outside in some capacity,” Joha said.
She worked at Natural Bridges National Monument last summer before landing a permanent position at Arches. Park rangers typically give presentations at the MIC a couple of times each summer.
The MIC is managed by the Canyonlands Natural History Association – a nonprofit that supports the parks and public lands of southeastern Utah. The organization also manages the bookstores at each of the parks in that group – including Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments, and Canyonlands and Arches national parks. Bookstore proceeds, as well as those from purchases at the MIC, go to support various scientific missions at the national parks, said PT Lathrop, a supervisory park ranger at Arches National Park.
“… [We] work closely with them and the MIC,” by offering talks such as these, Lathrop said. “There are always eager takers/folks who want to explore topics with visitors.”
From April to November the MIC offers free lectures by regional experts on topics like “the Moab region's fascinating past and present, places and people, wildlife, plants, dinosaurs and more!” Presentations are co-sponsored by the Moab Museum. Future presentations scheduled include “Birds as Wildlife Detectives,” and how the region’s desert has inspired generations of artists.
Additionally, the MIC offers information about recreation opportunities in the region; current availability of accommodations, including campground sites; current weather, road and trail conditions; a water bottle-filling station; clean restrooms; and a gift shop featuring guide books, maps, T-shirts, posters, postcards and other souvenirs.
The information center is open daily on Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The MIC is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.