A more extensive post will appear after the semester ends in a couple of weeks and my daily schedule begins to resemble something normal again. Until then – exciting news! The National Park Foundation has teamed up with the National Park Service to bring us “National Park Week.” The purpose of the event, which runs from today until April 29th, is to raise awareness of the national park system and to also encourage people to get outside and be active. This entire week, all of the national park system units are waiving their entrance fees. So, find the closest NPS unit and go enjoy some free outdoor recreation!
Now that I have been trained in recreation ecology, I am super sensitive to people hiking off-trail . Hiking with me can be no fun; if I see so much as a boot toe slip off the designated trail and hit vegetation, you will hear some sass from my direction. However, a recent article from The Canadian Field-Naturalist has raise an interesting question about recreation impacts: Are trail impacts always negative? Can there be an ecological benefit to recreational use of trails to certain species? A pair of researchers from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (which I assume is their equivalent to the U.S. Department of Agricultue) had observed that certain native, orchid species can often be found on the edge of recreation trails. The presence of such sensitive species seems counter-intuitive. So Paul Catling and Brenda Kottiuk investigated the question of whether or not orchids could be benefiting from the presence of trails.