The park rangers at Sequoia and Kings Canyon in California received an unusual note. It was an apology for taking a pine cone, with the pine cone taped to the note! The rangers decided to post the story on Facebook along with an a short lesson on wildlife. It quickly went viral, and a lot of parents are thankful for the chance to teach their kids about what it means to visit a national park!
Taking a pine cone or other plant life out of the forest can have lasting and damaging effects on the environment. This particular cone was from a Giant Sequoia and so was even more important! While these particular cones only spread their seeds after a large fire, other cones and seeds are just as important to the terrain.
The animals feed off of cones and other pods and eventually spread the seeds elsewhere. The cone will deteriorate, creating fertilized soil to cover the rocky terrain, and the small sprouts that would come of the spread seeds provide vegetation to keep the soil from blowing off into the wind.
It may not seem like a huge impact, but if everyone who visited the park walked out with something, the forest would slowly disappear. If you feel the need to take something, pick up any trash left behind!
Leave nothing but footprints behind.”
In most cases, returned items never get placed back inside the park, but will instead be dropped on the perimeter. The rangers have no idea what sort of contaminates may have attached to the foliage or seeds during their absence, and preventing harm to the forests and parks is their #1 concern. Returning the items does not “fix” the problem – not taking items in the first place does.
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