Leaving Traces to Leave No Trace

Sometimes, to get where you want, you have to go the wrong direction. Chess and soccer players know this. Being neither, I’ve been learning this lesson firsthand these past few weekends, helping to close down “social trails” on my beloved “big backyard,” which also happens to be a National Monument.

For better or for worse, a ton of other people love it too. The place is being loved to death. And with no official marked trail system, folks wander all over. Most know not to trample wildflowers, but what about when they’re not blooming? And what about lichens? Most people don’t know how key lichens are to the entire ecosystem. This is what happens when lichens meet feet too many times:

Left side: good. Right side: bad.

Left side: good. Right side: bad.

Lichens lose.

So, enter the trail-blockers, led by Nick, World’s Most Awesome Bureau of Land Management Non-Bureaucrat. Over three Saturdays, and using approved Leave No Trace methods, the work party hauled old branches from the nearby woods to make the trails say “CLOSED” as obviously as possible.

Happy, sunny-day workparty!

Happy, sunny-day workparty!

Notice all the lichens we’re not stepping on?

Guess what? Rainyday workparties are happy too!

Guess what? Rainyday workparties are happy too!

Looking at the pictures of our work, however, you might notice something.

Pardon my debris.

Pardon my debris.

It’s UG-LEEE.

Yep. Really, really ugly.

Yep. Really, really ugly.

But it’s absolutely necessary. Under those logs new grasses will grow, new wildflowers, and yes, new teensy-weensy baby lichens. Lesser trail blockades–let alone courteous signs–wouldn’t be enough to protect this fragile, precious place. So even though I wince to see those logs scattered about so hideously amid all the beauty, I’m willing to live with it, in order to make the right side of this photo one day look like the left.

Do not enter. Lichen it or not.

Do not enter. Lichen it or not.

So, pardon our debris, everyone. Sometimes we have to leave one heckuva trace, short term, to leave none in the end.

6 thoughts on “Leaving Traces to Leave No Trace

  1. Thanks for all y’er passion and commitment to this very special place. Ya bring such a sweet “can-do” attitude it is contagious 🙂 signed: Wing’s world newest fan 🙂

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