Over the next few weeks many of us will be digging out the hiking boots and heading back out on the trails. Recently, I came across a notice on Facebook from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) that seemed puzzling to me but after reading the post it made more sense.

Let me start by saying that I have done exactly what the NYS DEC is asking us not to do so many times I can't count. Who would think that tossing away something you would normally compost would be a bad idea? And I don't mean littering. While no one wants to see your half eaten piece of fruit laying around on a trail, I really thought if you ate an apple and then tossed the core off into the woods you weren't doing a bad thing. Turns out, I am wrong.

According to the NYS DEC Facebook post, casting off pieces of half eaten fruit and other compostable products is not good for the environment or our trails. They have made this part of their Leave No Trace project. The idea is if we bring it in, we take it out and this includes food scraps. Obviously, none of us would advocate leaving trash behind, but it happens everyday. Hudson Valley trails have had increasing reports of trash and debris being left by people using the space.

When the pandemic had us sticking closer to home and having to do more outdoors in order to interact with friends and family, our outdoor spaces took on more people. It also meant that these space saw more wear and tear. The idea of Leave No Trace is to remind us that when we use these nature spaces it is important we leave them looking the way we found them, which includes cleaning up food debris.

The food scraps you might innocently leave behind may actually be bad for some animals to eat. And the idea that food eventually composts is true, but not as quickly as you would think, which means your food trash could be laying around for a while, making a trail look like a compost pile instead of a path through nature.

So follow one simple rule as we head out this year: If you bring it in take it out. Let's try to keep our trails beautiful and natural. Also another part of Leave No Trace is to stick to the marked trails. Leaving the established route can cause you to injure plants and wildlife, not to mention being off the trail is a good way to injure yourself.

Today (March 3rd) is World Wild Life Day. Find out more through this link. World Wild Life Day with Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.



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