Image by Stock Photo per Tim Kennelty

Leave No Trace is an ethical approach to visiting the outdoors. Learn more on the podcast

Episode 25: Leave No Trace

In this episode, Kelsey Jean West from CCE joins us to talk about Leave No Trace, an ethical approach to visiting public parks and conservation areas. Then Tim Kennelty features the Dogwood and Garlic Mustard (Good Plant/Bad Plant).This podcast episode concludes with a focus on the value of scarecrows (Hits and Myths with Devon Russ).

Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas

Guest: Kelsey Jean West

Production Support: Linda Aydlett and Teresa Golden


Leave No TraceLeave No Trace Leave No Trace - Home - Leave No Trace (lnt.org) ; Cornell Cooperative Extension | Siuslaw Model Forest (ccecolumbiagreene.org) ; DEC | Welcome to the Catskills; HIKE SMART NY - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation ; Mountain Weather Forecasts (mountain-forecast.com)

Dogwood and Garlic Mustard (Good Plant/Bad Plant with Tim Kennelty): Dogwood | Home & Garden Information Center (clemson.edu) ; University of Maine | Bulletin #2569, Native Trees and Shrubs for Maine Landscapes: Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia); 12 Species of Dogwood Trees and Shrubs (thespruce.com) ; Garlic Mustard (psu.edu); Cornell Cooperative Extension | Garlic Mustard ;

Scarecrows (Hits and Myths with Devon Russ): 30 Spectacular Facts About Scarecrows - The Fact Site ; Do Scarecrows Really Work? – MiracleFarmer.com


Welcome to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. Our team's goal is to present science based information about gardening and all things nature in New York's Hudson Valley. Hosts Jean and Tim, along with team members, Teresa: and Linda, are Master Gardener Volunteers for New York's Columbia and Greene counties. So if you're interested in gardening or nature or nuggets of information about what's happening outside your door, settle in, enjoy the conversation. Whatever the season, we have something to say.

Musical segue

Tim: Hi, I'm Tim Kennelty.

Jean: And I'm Jean Thomas,

Tim: And welcome to another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Jean: Today our guest is Cornell Cooperative Extension's Kelsey West. And she's here to talk about Leave No Trace.

Tim: Yeah, Leave No Trace. It's not a detective show. But it's it's about a whole ecological principles, right.

Jean: It's a set of ethical standards.

Tim: Yeah. And basically, it's about having as little impact on an area that you're going into as possible.

Jean: And this is a good time to talk about it because we are flooded with visitors to Hudson Valley. And there's all kinds of examples like staying on the trails and keeping your dogs on leashes and basically it's Mother Nature saying clean your room.

Tim: Yeah, cleaning up after your dog too, that's one thing we want people to do and take their trash out and all of those things. So it's logical, but it's really interesting to hear Kelsey talk about these principles and what you really should be doing when you're visiting these areas.

Tim: And just like cleaning your room, you gotta be reminded

Tim: You keep telling me to clean my room. And I'm doing another episode of Good plant, bad plant whether you like it or not fine.

Jean: And you're talking about dog woods.


I am, I'm talking about the good planets, dog woods, and most people think of flowering dogwood but there is a beautiful small tree called pagoda dogwood. And there's lots of dogwood shrubs. And you know what, I love that dog woods? There's one for every condition, whether it's sun or different soil, and there are great wildlife plants and they are usually multi season plants. That's a really good thing.


There's 50 species, so there will be one that fits


Exactly. And the bad plants is one that's really, really bad.

Jean: It's an allelopath.

Tim: It is an allelopath. That means that it inhibits the growth of other plants.

Jean: That's right.

Tim: It's garlic mustard. It's garlic mustard, we hate garlic mustard,

Jean: And wild animals won't even eat it.

Tim: Nobody eats it. And this year, it seemed like it was everywhere. So we're going to talk about how to deal with it, how to manage it and how to identify it.

Jean: And Devon Russ is back and she's here to talk about scarecrows,

Tim: Scarecrow scare me, what do you think? Why do people put up scarecrow scare away the birds right?

Jean: They think they do. I think it's to scare away other people because the birds aren't usually very impressed.

Tim: Right, the myth is if it is a myth is how long do they really last kind of warding off the birds right Devin talks about ways that you can make a scarecrow more effective, right?

Jean: Yep, it's by using your scarecrows like Barbie dolls.You keep changing their clothes and moving them around.

Tim: You would like that. You would like that. And having moving objects and things like that. Right? So it's so it's not necessarily a myth. It's just how effective can you make your scarecrow?

Jean: Yeah, it takes a whole lot more work than you would expect.

Tim: I think we're gonna have to listen to find out about scarecrow.

Jean: I need to know.

Musical segue

Tim: We're talking today with Kelsey West, Program Coordinator at CCE Columbia Greene, and the topic is the principles of Leave No Trace. Welcome, Kelsey. Let's start with a question. What is Leave No Trace? I'm sure it has to do with being good citizens of the outdoors. But there must be more to it, right? Let's hear about that.

Kelsey: Sure. Well, thanks for having me today. Leave No Trace is basically a set of outdoor ethics which promote environmental stewardship and conservation in the outdoors. So today, it relies on seven principles that provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting or recreating outside. This framework allows folks to recreate safely and responsibly. I'm sure we've all noticed that the Hudson Valley and the Catskills have been experiencing an influx of visitors and rec creators within the last few years. And this is a great thing that outdoors in nature should be for everyone. But I think it's also important to touch upon these concepts and empower people with enough information to be good environmental stewards and also avoid degrading these special places.

Jean: So is the program devised by the federal agencies affected by the increase in use of national parks and then assisted by participation of outdoor recreation retailers or wholesalers? Is that an accurate description?

Kelsey: So Leave No Trace has a really kind of deep, rich history and the exact origins are a little tricky to pinpoint. But I think it's first important to note that many concepts for outdoor stewardship were taught and embodied by native and indigenous peoples prior to the popularization of Leave No Trace as a program. But the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace as we know them began as a result of increased wilderness visitation to national parks and public land. This was especially happening in the backcountry and definitely kind of in the Western United States, parks were being described as loved to death during this time, and many areas saw significant ecological degradation. This includes issues with soil compaction and erosion, water quality, general litter related issues, and also visitors would interfere with wildlife causing harm in general. And this really reached its peak in the 1960s 1970s. There are a few reasons for this occurring. But one correlation is that recreation equipment was beginning to become more available to the public during that time. So it became apparent that there was a need for increased education in addition to the increased regulation that the land management agencies started implementing at that time. So all sorts of groups, including rangers and land management agencies, also folks like the Boy Scouts of America, and even those outdoor retailers, the independently distributing messages about minimizing outdoor impacts and also good environmental stewardship. The problem was that these messages weren't always consistent, so they weren't as effective or marketable, and they're just a little more difficult to spread to the general public. But fast forwarding to 1987, the US Forest Service National Park Service and the Bureau of Land, land management formed a No Trace program and distributed a pamphlet that was titled Leave No Trace Land Ethics, this condensed kind of all of those ideas into the seven principles that we know today, the National Outdoor Leadership School joined this effort in 1990. And then in 1994, and independently, No Trace Organization was formed following an outdoor recreation summit with all sorts of land management agencies. So this formed into an organization that is, it's a not for profit, it's now known as the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. And this group is affiliated with the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. Also the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and more recently, the National Association of State Park directors, which is the governing organization for state parks in the United States.

Tim: You know, I think a lot of people maybe think about this in their local parks, the Feds had a need to educate the public on how to make minimal impact while serving national parks. But tell me if I'm wrong, is this also expanded to state parks, town parks, public conservation areas, recreation areas, is that right?

Kelsey: So yeah, that's absolutely correct. The Leave No Trace program had its roots in those more backcountry settings, but the principles have actually been adapted so that they can be applied anywhere. So from those remote wilderness areas to what people often refer to as the front country, which includes just your average day hike, or local and state parks, and even on your own property or woodland that you might own. And these principles also apply to almost every recreational activity, some different activities, some different pastimes have their own set of rules. For example, there's a Tread Lightly program, which addresses impacts from off road vehicles, and also rules of the trail which is developed for mountain bikers. But each of these programs definitely has those originally no trace principles at their core. So we've minimal impacts on on the environments that there are recreating.

Tim: So how do I know that if I'm going to a public park, or if I'm going to a public conservation area or a town park? How would I know that these principles are in place at that particular public entity? And if that public entity wants to follow those seven principles, you're going to tell us about is there a signage usually are there brochures, how would I know this?

Kelsey: So I think it can be implied that leave no trace principles are in place anytime you step foot in an outdoor setting. So even if a park or a preserve or conservation area that you visit doesn't have those rules, you should still be implementing these things in order to be a good environmental steward. That being said, one of the principles is actually to plan ahead and prepare. So part of that is checking out resources ahead of time and visiting websites or talking to folks so that you can better understand the rules and regulations of any place that you're visiting.

Jean: Okay, so what are the seven principles?

Kelsey: So in no particular order, the seven principles are first plan ahead and prepare. The second is travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. So those are all pretty simple at their core. But there's actually a lot to unpack in each of them, and I think I'll probably address them with more of a front country perspective, as I think in the northeast, especially, that's probably where most folks are going to be visiting and implementing those principles.

Tim: Remind us again, what the difference between back country and front country would be before you answer the principles.

Kelsey: Sure. So foreign country is typically kind of for more easily accessible area for most folks. It covers everything from day hikes to just a visit and your local state park or local conservation area. Whereas back country is more a remote wilderness area. Oftentimes, you're accessing those areas by backpacking or yeah, that's, that's, that's it. Okay, great. That's really helpful.

Kelsey: So just jumping back into those seven principles. The first is to plan ahead and prepare. And as I was just saying, you know, we used to have a coworker at CCE who would say something like accidents happen when you don't consider and plan for all the risks. And he usually said this when we were doing chainsaw work, he was coaching me through some things, but I think it translates well into hiking in general recreation, you need to be prepared to have a plan for wherever you go. And that starts with familiarizing yourself with the area you plan to visit using books, online resources, or even talking to people that you know, that have maybe visited that place before so that you know what to expect. And also seek out those rules and regulations for wherever you're visiting. Definitely if you are able to check out a map and bring it with you if you know how to use it. And I know there are some great apps and tools for navigation that you can access on your phone. But in certain places, you can't always rely on technology because it might die or it might not function in low service areas. So I'm just having a general understanding of the area you're meant to visit. It's just going to make it more of an enjoyable experience for you and prevent accidents or dangerous situations. And besides planning you need to be prepared. Not everything outdoors always goes according to plan. And depending on what kind of recreation you're participating in, you want to be prepared with different gear. Some critical things to have with you for most outdoor adventures include extra moisture wicking layers, extra food and water, a first aid kit, a multi tool, a headlamp, a lighter, a space blanket and a way to navigate. So it seems pretty intense for just a picnic in the park. But it is nice to have. Be prepared for anything that can go wrong. Also, keep in mind that conditions if you're doing something a little more intense, like going on a hike trying to reach a mountain summit, conditions on a mountain summit often vary from the start of your hike. One great website that I use personally really frequently is called Mountain-forecast.com. And it gives the projected forecast for most mountain summit so you can get an idea of what to expect when you're up there.

Kelsey: So the next principle travel in camp on durable surfaces. A really important piece of this principle is really just staying on designated trails. This protects potentially sensitive vegetation and also prevents soil compaction, erosion and other potential issues. It also prevents folks from wandering onto private property, for example. And so for camping, it's recommended to only stay on existing or designated campsites to avoid damaging vegetation. And I would also recommend, as I touched upon earlier, checking out DEC's website to understand where camping is permitted in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. Also at your campsite, if it's already designated campsite, don't dig trenches or build structures or do anything that's going to impact that designated site long term.

Tim: So Kelsey, when you say stay on trails, not compacting the soil as a part of this,also being aware of what might be on your boots from where you were just walking. And you might want to take a brush or something like that, because I know in a lot of public conservation areas, you start seeing invasive plants like stilt grass along the trails, but not anywhere else. So is that part of Leave No Trace as well

Kelsey: Leave No Trace, the goal is to leave things how you found it or better. So going off trail and picking up things on your boots can potentially introduce invasive species to other areas. But also before you set out, you want to make sure that you're not introducing anything to the space you're visiting. So brushing off or cleaning off your boots prior to visiting in areas are really effective way to make sure you're not dropping seeds or other plant materials that could spread and impact the environment.

Kelsey: So the next principle is to dispose of waste properly. And this really includes packing out any waste that you produce. Many outdoor spaces have a carry in carry out policy, so if you brought it in, it should come back with you. And this even includes things like food waste, like peels and cores that you might eat. And to this point, I usually bring a small plastic bag with me so if I see other garbage laying around, I can pack that out too. So like I just mentioned, it's not just about degrading a certain place, you want to leave it better than you found it if possible. And so for human waste, which is often an issue, even just on a day hike, if they're available, use bathrooms or outhouses. But if not, it's a good practice to bury human waste in a small hole, which folks refer to as a cat hole. And you also want to make sure that you're traveling at least 150 feet from the trail or any sources of water to kind of take care of this business.

Kelsey: The next principle leave what you find is actually pretty self explanatory. Leave plants, rocks, historical items, anything you find in the woods as you found them so that other people can enjoy them as well. And then altering what you find applies to this principle as well. So for example, carving, hacking or peeling plants will actually kill them in some instances or impacted their health. So really just enjoy things how you found them, don't take them, don't alter them.

Jean: So much of this just sounds like common courtesy to the outdoors.

Kelsey: It really is, once you sit down and think about it all these practices are pretty self explanatory, and really just helped make your outdoor experience more enjoyable and helps other people enjoy them as well. So the next principle is minimizing campfire impacts. So this is more for like a camping situation. Or if you just want to have a campfire, make sure it's permitted in the area where you are. And it's also safe. Even if it's permitted, it might be a dry season. So make sure you're checking on that before you plan to have a fire. Use only existing fire rings. This protects the ground from the heat and keeps it contained. But you want to keep your fire small anyway to contain it and make sure that you're burning all the wood to ash and that it's completely out or cold before you leave.

Kelsey: So another consideration is that the movement of firewood is regulated by New York State. This prevents the spread of forests, pests and diseases. So make sure that you check out DEC's website to understand these regulations. A rule of thumb is that you can't transport untreated firewood for more than 50 miles. And if you purchase it, it's a good practice just keep the receipt to identify where you sourced your firewood from.

Tim: And it's not all about the spread of emerald ash borer, or is it other insect pest as well?

Kelsey: All sorts of insect pests. So emerald ash borer, yeah, that's a really big one. You know, we're also seeing this issue with spotted lantern fly, it's creeping in. And that's at a real early detection, rapid response level too. So the last year moving firewood last chance that you're moving these these insects with you. Asian Longhorn beetles, another one, all sorts of forest pests and pathogens. And it's not just insects, either. It can also be on different fungal pathogens. So that's really part of where that practice came from.

Kelsey: The next principle is respecting wildlife. Also pretty self explanatory, you want to observe wildlife from a distance, and don't approach them, don't feed them, don't follow them around. And speaking of feeding them, human food can be unhealthy for wildlife. And feeding them also just starts really bad habits. You don't want to habitualize, animals to having that source of food. And if you're camping makes sure that you're securely storing your meals and trash to prevent animals from from feeding on those as well.

Kelsey: And lastly, and almost maybe not more importantly, but this one's a big one is just be considerate of other other visitors. So if you're passing somebody on the trail, be considerate. If you bring a pet with you, make sure it's leashed and you're controlling it so that other visitors aren't alarmed. It's also a good practice to just be a little more quiet, you're able to listen to nature that way. And also other people are able to enjoy the space and the way they want it and observe nature if that's their goal, too. So sometimes if you're out hiking, somebody will have like a loudspeaker or something I get how that can be fun and enhance your experience, but it's just courteous to others to bring in a little.

Jean: So much of this seems like a simple common sense. But for people who are not frequent visitors to the outdoors, I suppose it is helpful to be reminded.

Tim: It is common sense. It seems like it's really too bad that we have to tell people to be courteous, right. So how is CCE involved in Leave No Trace? Do you have a program that you offer to local residents in the two counties? How do people learn about it?

Kelsey: Sure. So CCE isn't affiliated with the Leave No Trace program as it stands today, a particular not for profit. But some of our staff has had some training in the program. And I've also taken some coursework about the history of outdoor recreation, some management frameworks used by federal and state agencies and also covered some basic trails and campground design and maintenance. We have discussed having some programs about safe and responsible outdoor recreation, but we don't have anything planned or really on the schedule currently, I would say if you're tracking down resources, the DEC is the reigning authority and what's permitted in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. So they're a great place to check out when you're planning any sort of outdoor recreation, especially in those areas. But locally besides CCE, the Catskill Center is also a wonderful option to learn about land stewardship and leave no trace. And if you stopped by the visitor center, you can have questions answered and get trip planning, advice and local information. They also have a seasonal stewardship program aimed to educate visitors in the Catskills. But I will note that CCE has a certain amount of involvement, we implement these principles in the Siuslaw Model Forest in order to have visitors leave minimal impacts. And this all ties back into that overarching Leave No Trace idea. So the site is not not a forest. It's a 140 acre property across from our office in Accra, that's dedicated to education, research and demonstration of sustainable forestry and agroforestry techniques. So besides hopefully checking out some of our educational signage and demonstrations, visitors have a ton of different recreation opportunities on our property, you could just go for a nice walk, fish in one of the two catch and release ponds. And there's also just a really great abundance of wildlife to sit in observe. In the winter we welcome folks to snowshoe and cross country ski on our trails as well, which I have been taking full advantage of. But the rules for the property and their complete form, really touch upon Leave No Trace. And you can find those rules on our website at CCEColombiaGreene.org. And you can also find them in a kiosk as you enter the property or stock over to the Agroforestry Resource Center to grab our brochure. But some of the rules, I can kind of tie back directly to those seven principles. One major one that we like to remind people of is that we require folks to keep dogs on leash. And I know this doesn't seem like a really big deal to people who consider their dogs to be really well trained. But there are a few reasons why this is so important. One is that off leash dogs can stray off trail, and leashing them ensures that they're not heading off trail and trampling vegetation and disturbing wildlife. We also have active demonstrations for that educational component. And sometimes they involve research. So having a four legged friend run through these sites can damage the research sites and have other negative impacts. And I can speak for our whole environmental and natural resources team and say that we all love dogs, but it's also just a courtesy to other visitors who might not or are uncomfortable around them. And that's one of the rules that we really like to highlight. For the most part, we also ask that folks follow a leave what you find rule, and we discourage people from collecting or introducing plants, mushrooms and wildlife on their own. That being said, we do have a huge variety of programs that take place in the Model Forest. And in some of them it is actually appropriate to collect materials. For example, we have an annual foraging workshop. But anybody who's interested in checking out those programs that we offer, they can do so by stopping in either Hudson or acre office or by visiting CC Columbia green.org. You can also sign up to get emails about upcoming events. With the size that we ask people to dispose of their waste properly we are carry in carry out property. So please take your garbage with you. Personally, I think the ponds are a really great spot to hang out and have a picnic of it. Just make sure that all of your garbage including food waste also leaves with you. Just of note too, we don't allow campfire, so don't worry about transporting firewood and all of that. And for the same reason as we're having dogs stay on leash, we also just ask that folks stay on designated trails. And you can find our trail map also in our brochure on the website and an office and we usually try to keep some copies on standby on the kiosk as you enter the property as well.

Jean: Kelsey, I agree that the forest is a beautiful place to visit. But here's another question for you. As Master Gardener volunteers, we're certainly active in camping and forestry pastimes. But I can't help wonder if there should be a gardeners version as well. We visit each other in Botanical Gardens happily unaware of the damage we might be wreaking much is early visitors to national parks were clueless about the harm they were doing. I think we're calling this loving the parks to death. Is that fair to describe what's happening?

Kelsey: Sure, yeah, that's really the whole idea. And I think some of those principles, they do translate well to places like botanical gardens, I think it's kind of a no brainer to stay on trails and just be courteous to other visitors. And also make sure that you're either taking out your litter with you or using proper receptacles that might be available in those spaces. But I think gardening in general, as a concept is just different than other forms of outdoor recreation. But it's certainly a pastime that can be a huge part of environmental stewardship. So instead of the leave no trace principles, I think it compares better to some of the ideas of sustainable forest management. So like forestry and gardening, you want to build a plan based on a set of objectives that you would identify and your goals in both forestry and gardening could have something to do with species composition, overall health and resilience that maybe you're hoping to yield some sort of product. And maybe your goal could have something to do with supporting wildlife and other organisms. But really having a well thought out and well researched plan for your garden or your forest. And implementing and managing it, according to that plan can help you meet your objectives and also reduce the potential of introducing potentially invasive species, the surrounding environment, there's also always the risk of spreading other pests and pathogens. And so sticking to a plan that considers these impacts is a great reminder that what you're doing in your garden can really influence the environment on a regional scale, or even in some cases of global scale. We've seen that with some of our major invasive pest issues, one garden introduction can lead to a chain of ecological degradation.

Tim: So Kelsey, thanks so much for joining us. I think this is a really timely topic with so many people outdoors with COVID getting out into the outdoor spaces and public areas and things like that. This has been a really informative perspective on federal and private collaboration that actually seems to be working. We really appreciate it. We're happy that you came. We hope you'll join us for future topics.

Kelsey: Sure, I'd love to thank you so much for having me.

You're listening to Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Stay tuned for Good Plant/Bad Plant.

Tim: Welcome back to Good Plant/Bad Plant where we focus on two plants per episode, one that's ecologically valuable, and one at the other end of the spectrum that's invasive or noxious weed, thus, good plant, bad plant. I'm your host, Tim Kennelty. In this episode, we're going to explore two plants that are fairly common in the landscape. The good plant is actually a group of plants, the dogwoods of the genus cornice, and the bad plant many people just consider a common weed, but it's actually a really destructive invasive and that is garlic mustard.

Tim: So as always, let's start with the good guys, the dogwoods. Dogwoods include a large group of shrubs, and small woody trees all in the genus cornice. The genus also includes a group of what might be called sub-shrubs, fast growing plants that die down to the ground in winter, and then sprout back in the spring from buds at the base of the plant. Some of these, like bunch berry, can actually be used as ground covers. There are about 50 different species of dogwood and many are native to our area. What almost all dogwoods have in common is that they provide multi season interest with attractive spring flowers, colorful berries in mid to late summer devoured by birds and often brilliant fall color. Growing conditions for dogwoods are going to depend upon the species you're planting. Most people associate the term dogwood with a commonly named flowering dogwood or cornus, Florida. This is a small to medium sized deciduous tree often used as a specimen because of its beautiful white or pink spring flower brax colorful fruit and attractive fall foliage. This tree which can often be seen in the understory of our local woods suffers from a variety of diseases and insect pests. However, there are quite a few disease resistant cultivars. One of my favorites is Appalachian Spring, which is said to be highly resistant to anthracnose and powdery mildew. I have two in my landscape and I found them to be vigorous, beautiful and disease free. One of my favorite native Dogwood trees is Cornus alternifolia, often referred to as Pagoda Dogwood because of its lovely pyramidal habit. This is a beautiful tree that can tolerate a good deal of shade with small white flowers in spring and blue black fruit in late summer. I have a Pagoda Dogwood growing just behind my screen porch, and in July I just sit and watch the wood thrushes, catbirds, and cedar waxwings devour the berries, usually in one day. In fact, more than 35 species of birds eat the fruit of this tree. And let's not forget the shrubs like flowering and Pagoda dogwoods shrubs, such as gray dogwood, silky dogwood and red twig or red dosier. A dogwood may be a bit more wild in habit and look, but they all have great spring flowers for pollinators, attractive and nutritious fruit for the birds and many are host plants for butterflies and moss. All of these are fairly easy to grow, with best results in well drained soil and part to full sun. One way to use dogwood shrubs in the landscape is to plant a grouping of different dogwood shrub species as a wildlife hedge that will provide multi season interest for you, as well as food and shelter for the birds. So do yourself a favor and check out native Dogwood trees and shrubs, you won't be disappointed.

Tim: Unfortunately, we also have a bad plant to talk about today. And the bad planttoday is one that really drives me crazy and maybe you too. It's garlic mustard. Garlic Mustard is a non-native invasive herb that has spread through much of the Northeast and Midwest causing significant ecological damage. Garlic Mustard is native to Europe and parts of Asia and is believed to have been brought here in the 1860s as a food or medicine crop. It's a biannual, meaning that it matures in two years. The first year it appears as a short rosette and in the second year it grows a tall stalk with small white flowers that quickly produce literally 1000s of seeds before it dies in mid-summer. The plant has a distinctive garlic odor and can be forged and eaten. So why is garlic mustard so bad while like many invasive plants, it can form dead stands or monocultures pushing out beneficial native plants. Garlic Mustard is especially detrimental because it produces 1000s of seeds that can be viable in the soil for up to 10 years. It's also an alleleopath, which means it can inhibit growth of other plants and because most insects and mammals won't eat it, this plant can quickly become dominant in the landscape. One of the most effective methods especially with smaller stands of garlic mustard is hand polling. This is best done in spring when the ground is soft and before the plant is produced flowers are seed. This is really a long term process. I feel like I've been pulling Garlic Mustard in my own garden since the beginning of time, but it's well worth it. If you can gain just a bit of control with larger stands chemical controls may be considered. I'm going to include some links to help you identify and manage this noxious plant and as always, it's really best to know your foe here. So that's it for another edition of good plant bad plant and remember as a gardener you can make a difference if you want to support wildlife in your garden plant natives.

You're listening to Nature Calls; Conversations from the Hudson Valley.

Stay tuned for Hits and Myths.

Devon: Hello, this is Devin Russ. I'm a Master Gardener Volunteer from Columbia and Greene counties. And this is another episode of Hits and Myths. Today we're addressing the myth that scarecrows will scare birds away. Do scarecrows work? It's frustrating if birds come and eat your beautiful strawberries or take one bite each out of several different tomatoes. Birds can do a lot of damage in the garden and gardeners often want to keep the birds away from certain plants. So what works to prevent damage by birds?Farmers have been using scarecrows for 1000s of years. Archeologists have found scarecrows made out of wood, clay and other materials from all over the world. It's certainly fun to make the kind we know best by stuffing old clothes. Did you know that scarecrows as decorations are associated with Halloween because harvest time was when scarecrows we're most needed to protect ripening crops?

Devon: But will a scarecrow help keep destructive birds away from your crops? The answer is yes, but not for long. Different bird species react differently, but they all respond most to whatever is new and moving. So if you want to get the most out of your scarecrow, make changes to it frequently. You can move the whole scarecrow from one place to another or you can change the clothes on the scarecrow or you can add tools or other props. Maybe you could set little scenes for your scarecrow have the scarecrow push your wheelbarrow one day and hold the pitchfork the next. It also helps if you dress your scarecrow in bright colors. Another good way to make a scarecrow more effective is to add something that moves like streamers and ribbons. If you add something that moves in the wind and also reflects light that will become even more alarming to the birds. That's why you might see aluminum pie pans hanging in some gardens. I have a neighbor who hangs old CDs from their garden fence. When CDs move in the wind they reflect bright patterns of light and color that disturb the birds. Of course, if you can make your scarecrow actually move that's even better. And inflatable mannequin like some holiday displays that have an air blower that makes it collapse and then pop up again would make a great scarecrow. Sometimes scarecrows aren't made to look like people. But like other predators that are frightening to birds, you can buy model owls and snakes, and silhouettes of hawks and cats. These are meant to work in the same way as humans scarecrows. They should make the bird think that it's too dangerous to land nearby. And these two work best when they are new, or if you move them around. It also helps if they have reflective bits. Some model owls have very shiny eyes, and the silhouettes usually have holes for eyes so that changing sky seeing through the eyes makes them seem to move. We no longer expect to see traditional scarecrows on farms. That's because farms with tractors have fields so big that one scarecrow wouldn't have much effect. Farmers with big fields of grain would rather plant enough so that they can absorb bird damage. Farmers with more expensive crops, like fruits, use row covers or animal repellents or newer high tech devices like laser scarecrows. There are even digital devices that use electric eyes to detect the presence of birds or animals and then shoot out a beam of light or noise. Another great way to keep birds from damaging your crops is to cover your berry bushes with bird netting. But it's important to install the netting so that animals can't get injured by it. You want to keep the birds from eating your fruit. You don't want to kill them by having them tangled in the netting. So when you put out bird netting, you should make sure it covers the top of the plant so that birds can't go inside and get trapped. You should also be sure that the net does not go all the way to the ground. That way small animals like mice and snakes can move along the ground without getting caught. Be sure to use netting that has a very small mesh, you shouldn't be able to put your finger through the openings in the net. If the mesh were larger, small birds could try and pass through and get stuck.

Devon: Remember when I said that different species of birds respond differently to scarecrows? Crows in particular, are frighteningly smart for bird brains. New Caledonian crows, a relative of crows in our area, have been observed in careful experiments to use tools and plan out the solution to puzzles that require several steps. Crows can also recognize human faces and remember which ones to fear. And they pass that information on to other crows. A University of Washington scientist had some of his crew wear masks of famous faces while trapping crows on campus. Other members of the crew who strolled through the area paying no attention to the crows, or masks of different faces. Five years later, when the two groups returned to that area, the people wearing crow trapper masks were mobbed and screamed at by all of the crows, even those who weren't there five years before. The people wearing strolling in the park masks were ignored. By the way that scientists eight year old daughter got in on the "How smart are crows anyway" research by putting out french fries and two kinds of bags, plain brown bags and McDonald's bags. Crows like french fries, and they consistently went for the McDonald's bags first. The birds recognize the logo and inferred correctly that those bags were more likely to have french fries. With birds that smart you know you really have to keep working at it scare them away from your garden. Thank you for listening to another edition of Hits and Myths.

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That concludes another episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. We'd like to thank Sandra Linnell and Devin Connolly from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties for production support. And a special thank you to our listeners for joining us on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley. You can find links to any of the topics mentioned in this episode at our website at CCEcolumbiagreene.org. Comments and suggestions for future topics may be directed to us at ColumbiagreeneMGV@cornell.edu or on the CCE Master Gardener Volunteers of Columbia and Greene County's Facebook page. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties, visit our website at CCE Columbia green.org or visit us in Hudson or in Acra. Cornell Cooperative Extension provides equal programming and employment opportunities.

Last updated July 14, 2022