Rock stacking can harm nature

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Did you know that stacking stones affects the ground, plants and wildlife?

Stone men have traditionally served as trail markers, but have recently become fashionable on social media. What’s the harm in stacking a few bricks for fun? Indeed, this seemingly harmless act often has a critical impact on the delicate balance of nature.

Piles of stones, also known as rock graffiti, damage the ecosystem in a number of ways. This is especially true when the rocks are taken from a body of water.

Stacking stones is harmful because:

  1. Stacking rocks in Austin’s streams, rivers, and lakes can disrupt the macroinvertebrates that call these rocks home. This can have a cascading effect on the wellbeing of other animals in the ecosystem as the macroinvertebrates are an important part of the food chain.

  1. Many land creatures also use rocks as habitats. Birds often build nests in rocks, plants breed in the crevices and insects live underneath. If you move the stones that they call home, they can die and this can cause a chain reaction within the food web.

  1. Rock movements loosen the soil and disrupt natural habitats, which can affect plants and animals, including endangered species. A Watershed Protection biologist found a dead salamander on the bottom of a boulder in Barton Creek.

  1. Stacking stones can throw hikers off the trail and lead to people who rely on piles of stones for orientation to be lost.

If you love nature, leave no trace (LNT). There are seven LNT principles. The fourth principle relates specifically to behavior such as stacking stones.

Leaving no trace Principle 4: Leave what you find behind

  • Leave stones, plants and other natural objects as you find them.

  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

  • Preserve the past: examine cultural or historical structures and artifacts, but don’t touch them.

Learn more and get the word out about Leave No Trace at AustinTexas.gov/LeaveNoTrace.

#ATXParks #ATXParkRangers #LNT #LeaveWhatYouFind


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