By Jonathan Schetcher of Earth’s Almanac
Reprinted by permission
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!
Tags: boot brush, invasive hitchhikers, invasive species, national park, national park book scraper, national park boot brush, national park boot scraper, sleeping bear dunes boot brush, sleeping bear dunes boot scraper, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore