Clean Your Boots to Protect Our Natural Areas

Clean your boots! And your sneakers, sandals, and flip-flops too. Give them a quick check before and after you hike to prevent the spread of invasive weeds.

Summer is here and that means that recreationists are out in force. Many of these people are visiting the wonderful parks and recreation areas for which our region is so famous. Native plants and native wildlife definitely make our outdoor excursions especially nice. Sadly, these unique areas can be easily spoiled by careless visitors. Contamination by invasive weeds can destroy precious habitat and limit food and habitat that our native pollinators, song birds, fish, and other wildlife need to survive.

This study found an estimated annual loss of almost $83.5 million in personal income to Oregon’s economy from just 25 selected weed species. These costs are estimated to balloon to $1.8 billion if invasive weeds are left untreated. We all pay the bill for invasion of weeds species through increased food costs, higher taxes, and decreased property values.

Boot brush station at trailhead. (Photo: Marty Hudson)

Boot brush station at trailhead. (Photo: Marty Hudson)

Clean Your Boots Before and After You Hike

You can help control invasive weeds in our area by making one simple commitment — Clean your boots before and after you hike!  Remove seeds from your socks and boots (check laces and boot tread). Check your children or pets who hike with you for seeds as well. This simple step can help prevent the spread of invasive weeds into our parks and recreational areas. Share this important tip with friends, family, and fellow hikers! (Print a copy of our poster to share here – What is hitchhiking on YOUR boots? )

What Else Can I Do?

While the best way to protect our natural areas is to not introduce invasive weeds at all, the next best thing is to eliminate them just as soon as they are detected. This approach is called Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR). You can help by learning to identify new invasive weeds in our area. Take a look at this Columbia Gorge Worst Weeds of the Gorge booklet.

Should you identify one of these invasive weeds, please report your sightings to the Oregon Invasive Species hotline.

Your help in identifying and reporting locations of these invasive weeds in our community will provide early detection information to the experts working to stop the next invasion before it starts!

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