Question: You’re settling into a nice lunch spot away from the trail when you notice a tiny bird flitting around, close, and chirping like crazy. What do you do?
Q. You’re settling into a nice lunch spot away from the trail when you notice a tiny bird flitting around, close, and chirping like crazy. What do you do?
A. You reflect that this bit of forest is the bird’s home. There may be a nest nearby – maybe inches from your hiking boots or right next to where you hung your hat in a bush. So you move carefully away and let the bird go about its vital spring time business: singing for mate or territory, or tending eggs or babies. Twenty four species of warbler alone, plus dozens of other kinds of songbirds, raise their families in the Northern Wilds. In fact, the Superior National Forest hosts more species of breeding birds than any other national forest. Amazingly, there may be hundreds of songbird nests per square mile of healthy forest. Some of these are high in treetops, but many are on the forest floor or in low shrubs--and vulnerable to people and pets.
Q. All that’s left after lunch are some orange peels and peanut shells. Should you leave them behind?
A. Even though these things will biodegrade, you know that in the meantime they’ll be glaringly obvious to anybody who happens by. So you pack them out to put in the nearest garbage can, along with any other trash. And cigarette butts? Oddly, some people think these aren’t litter. But a tossed butt is more than a trace – it’s a national disgrace. A recent university project estimated that Americans toss 186,000 tons annually. If that’s hard to visualize, the authors helpfully point out that this is equal to the weight of approximately 31,000 elephants! Since it can take cigarette filters a quarter of a century to biodegrade, the cumulative impact is huge. Because they are so out of place, a few butts dropped along a primitive trail or a campsite can be much more offensive than an ash tray full emptied onto a city street.