• Canoeists paddle by tree lined shores

    Saint Croix

    National Scenic Riverway WI,MN

Keep it Clean

September 06, 2012 Posted by: Caroline Stedman

No matter how hard the little snapping turtle tried, he couldn't swim away from me. His four short legs beat the water frantically. Clear line was holding him to the log stuck in the muck in a foot of water. He had swallowed a hook, and was now tied to the log with a death sentence. I cut the line close to his mouth and watched him swim away to wherever he chose to spend his last days.

Minutes later, I came across two Great Blue Herons. Normally skittish birds, the one flew to the opposite shore immediately. The other watched me warily as I inched closer in my boat. It watched me pass by, within six feet, where I could see a bright Rapala lure jammed through its foot.

Accidents happen, and not every snag can be recovered while fishing. Right before my encounter with the turtle I had spent my morning cleaning up bait fish left all over the shore at Osceola Landing, broken bottles, a fire outside of a fire ring, tangled fishing line, and hooks left out in the sand. Cleaning up after yourself isn't a new concept, and most people do it really well. Others struggle.

The seven principles of Leave No Trace (copyright: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics) are widely used by National Parks and other federal land agencies.

 Plan Ahead and Prepare

 Travel and Camp on durable surfaces

          Dispose of waste properly

         Leave what you find

         Minimize campfire impacts

        Respect wildlife

        Be considerate of other visitors

The Riverway's "Pack in, pack out" regulation means you should take your waste home with you - all of it. Broken glass and fishing hooks do not mix well with bare feet on the beach. On the lower river we ask people to bring in their own portable toilets because it is difficult to find Park Service land along the lower river above the flood plain. When the river floods, everything you just buried, comes right back up.

Thousands of people come here, all seeking something different. Some fish, some watch birds, some just want to go swimming. Pack in, pack out means being considerate of other people and the wild things living here. This is a place everyone has the opportunity to enjoy. If you brought it here, take it home, too.

Two days earlier, we responded to a call about an immature Bald Eagle wrapped in fishing line with a damaged wing. He is now at the Raptor Center. How the Heron is doing, one can only guess.


1 Comments Comments Icon

  1. Elsa
    September 13, 2012 at 08:26

    Yes! Eloquently written Ranger Caroline!

 

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Did You Know?

What looks like a striped fish with several tails is actually the opening of the mussel shell which is hard to see.

Mussels rely on fish to carry their young around until they are old enough to drop to the river bottom. To attract the fish and attach their young, mussels put on displays that make fish think they are fish or other food. The mussel shell, which is all we normally see, is now barely visible.