Q: On a recent camping trip, I saw signs saying, “Take only memories and leave only footprints.” What exactly does that mean and why is it important?
A: Summer is a great time to travel! When we travel and spend time in nature, we start to notice all the wonderful local flora and fauna around us. While on vacation, it may be tempting to take home a beautiful flower or plant, but it is better to leave the plants where they are. One reason is that the plant may be invasive, and taking it home can inadvertently spread the plant into a new area. The plant may also harbor insects that could potentially be invasive and may inadvertently be introduced to a new area. The plant could be a protected species and it may be unlawful to remove or tamper with the plant in any way. You may, however, take plenty of pictures! Firewood poses a particular threat, as the emerald ash borer has been introduced to areas in this way, so make sure to buy firewood locally and do not to bring it home. Not only should we keep everything where it is, we should also take care to leave only footprints to ensure natural areas stay as clean and unpolluted as possible.