Pack it in. Pack it out.
If we want to continue to have beautiful trails like the A.T. to hike on, we need to take care of them. Leaving an energy bar wrapper behind is unsightly to be sure. But it can also be hazardous—and, because some litter isn't biodegradable, it can remain a hazard for decades to come.
A bottle or can can become a death trap for a lizard. Broken glass can cut the feet or end up in the stomach of an animal. Food scraps aren’t helping wildlife, either. Deer may love to graze on grain products, but they can form gummy masses and interfere with digestion. Not to mention that animals that become accustomed to free handouts can be unprepared to hunt for themselves when handouts aren't available.
Not trashing our trails is the first step toward protecting them. Take the next step by picking up litter you see on the trail. You can take the #LeaveNoTrash pledge October 26-November 1, 2020—and help spread the word. Here's what the Leave No Trace folks are asking us to do:
"Get outside, pick up some trash and post your efforts to social media, making sure to use the hashtag #LeaveNoTrash. Plus, take our pledge to participate and tell us how much trash you plan to pick up."
While the Round Hill AT nonprofit focuses on putting on our eco-festival, we stay busy year round promoting environmental stewardship—like spreading the word about the incredible value of native plants. One of our recent projects, in conjunction with Round Hill Outdoors was installing a demonstration native plant garden here in town.
Why plant “native”?
Do you like birds? Then you’ll want a host of caterpillars hanging around your house. Do you like to grow veggies? Then you’ll need a few bees in your neighborhood. Here in the U.S., we have a long history of importing plants from distant lands. Some to eat. Some for their looks. The problem is that these exotic plants and our vast expanses of lawn don’t support our bees, birds or other wildlife.
Even worse, some introduced plants are invasive in our environment. When a plant has few or no insects feeding on them or plants that can’t compete with them, they crowd out native plants. Think garlic mustard, multi-flora rose, barberry, Japanese stilt grass. Add to that all land going under development as shopping centers and housing developments, and we’ve lost a great deal of native habitat.
So, what can we do? Plant native. Birds and butterflies depend on native plants for food, shelter and reproduction. Our gardens can become sanctuaries for these critters. And that’s not the only benefit of going native. Plants that are naturally adapted to our local soils and climate, will need less fertilizer, water and pesticides–so they’re easier to maintain as they help reduce the chemicals introduced to our habitats.
Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of our natural ecosystems. And it’s not hard to “go native.” Groups like Plant NoVa Natives and Audubon at Home offer abundant advice. Plus, many nurseries carry a selection of Virginia native plants, and some specialize in natives, like Watermark Woods in Hamilton, VA.
Check out some of the beautiful native plants we're enjoying in our new garden:
Round Hill AT: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.