Saturday, December 02, 2017

A Destructive Trend

In recent months as I hike well-trod trails through the Ozarks, I have noticed an increase in the practice of rock stacking. Historically, this was likely done to blaze a trail or to mark water sources. Today, with increasing hiking pressure in our natural places, visible trails don't necessarily require rock stacking to lead the path. In wilderness, small stacks of rocks to create stream crossings may be necessary for the less hardy wilderness user. However, the repeated trend of creating large -sometimes 6 ft. tall- towers of rocks is resulting in much damage to our geologic sites and impacting public safety on trails.

I first encountered the destructive practice of rock flipping when I moved here; wildlife collectors routinely find glades in particular to flip rocks and remove snakes, tarantulas, collared lizards. In some glades on publicly owned land, every rock has been flipped which has led to local extirpation of collared lizards and coachwhips. So, that's clearly irresponsible and reckless. Once the seal between rock and soil is broken, habitat is altered, even if the rock is carefully replaced. In the outfit I engage with, this is called disturbing wildlife.

The repeated rock stacking-similar to rock flipping- in highly public and well-traveled places has resulted in injuries as the towers collapse; it has resulted in shattered ancient geologic features; it has morphed into serious vandalism. Have hikers become so far removed from the concepts of Leave No Trace that they feel compelled to "leave a mark?" Is the world not altered enough? Hiking a trail and discovering stacked rocks certainly removes the sense of remoteness and solitude that so many hikers seek in our natural places. While this human value set may not be important to some, it is to many. And that's aside from the destruction of habitat. In some publicly owned land, removing or disturbing rocks, minerals, soil, plants and wildlife violates state statutes. Our state's precious geology should rest where it exists so that future generations can witness the development of geologic time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I so totally agree, people don't be afraid to voice opinions to fellow hikers when found doing such things.