Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wipe Your Feet and Join The War: You are in Michigan's national park!

National Park Ranger Ryan Locke demonstrates the newly installed boot scraper at the
 Empire Bluff Trail  of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
all photos by Jonathan Schechter

National Park Ranger Ryan Locke is on the front lines of a war raging at Sleeping Bear
Dunes National Lakeshore a quiet war being waged to combat the spread of invasive species. 
The first "boot brush station" was installed at the popular Empire Bluff Trail last month
 with additional scrapers going in at South and North Manitou Islands and Leland. 
The scrapers are aimed to raise the awarness of backpackers and casual hikers that they are
vectors in invasive species seed dispersal. The simple act of scraping your boot or shoe
against the brush before and after a trail hike removes hitchiking seeds while the well worded
colorful interpretive sign explains the science behind the war plan.

Congratulations to Ranger Locke who thought about a way to educate the public on invasive
species seed dispersal  and provide a way for the public to take immediate action.  Locke called
around to other parks with islands and then pitched the idea of a boot brush station to the National
 Park Service's Invasive Species Coordinator Marcus Key who works at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Key ran with the plan and saw to it that 55 of these stations were produced to be placed in ten
National Parks around our Great Lakes.

Locke explained the highest priority is to educate the public about the risk of transporting
 invasive species  (such as garlic mustard and spotted knapweed) in the treads of, or on the
laces of their hiking boots or hidden in camping gear to the Manitou Islands.
Do your part on your next Sleeping Bear visit:
Wipe your feet!


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