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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Wildfire and Hiking Boots?

I enjoy backyard nature and the nature in my community on a daily basis, but I travel infrequently to large wilderness areas, so I'm not the smartest eco-traveler. It surprised me a couple years ago when I learned that California's Live Oak trees were being contaminated by a disease carried from one to another by hikers' boots. Who would have thought?

That made me stop and think about how we carry seeds and bacteria...just like birds and foxes and squirrels disperse seeds.

The logic was brought home to me even more when I read an article by Kathleen Clarke who has been director of the federal Bureau of Land Management since 2001. Her point is that invasive grasses are being carried into national parks and preserves and these invasive plants are bringing wildfires into ecosystems that have not evolved to deal with them. Wildfires are a growing menace both to human life and our natural treasures, "As of early August, we have experienced 14,800 fewer fires than average, but the fires we've had have burned in excess of 2 million acres more than average. As we move into the peak fire season in the West, these trends are likely to continue."

Not only do we need to be very careful about not taking flamable materials such as vehicles with hot catalytic converters and highly flammable fuels... but we need to help stop the spread of invasive grasses and plants in these wild areas. By stemming the amount of flammable vegetative materials, we limit the size of wildfires, and limit their feasibility in vulnerable habitats.

"You can also help stem the spread of these invasive and flammable weeds. For instance, use weed-free hay when riding or packing with livestock, and wash your four-wheelers to remove weed seed before trekking off to enjoy the public lands."

So, think ahead...don't disperse seeds in the nooks and crannies of your own clothes and shoes, the tires or crevices of your vehicles, or in the food you take into wild areas to feed horses or wildlife. There are probably 50 additional cautionary items to list...but the best one is to think first...don't pollute. And if you don't know how to behave in a situation, it's probably better to learn first, and not endanger those around you...plants, animals, and entire habitat systems.

Life sure is complicated these days, isn't it? :-)

For more articles about CONSERVATION & GARDENING

When is a plant a weed?
Saving Topsoil
Controlling Slugs and Snails
California Heritage Gardens
Walk Gently with the Earth
Weather and Temperature are Linked to Landscaping

For more articles about ENJOYING NATURE

Botanical Garden Links
California Poppy Reserve
The Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium
America's Ecosystems
California Poppy Reserve
California Agritourism