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October 22, 2017
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

I awoke to our first frost of the season this morning. The forecast for the remainder of the week was back to above average temps for mid-October, but this frost was firm enough that I may see some reaction to it in the flowers around the house.

I hope I experience some frost action with the pirate bugs (Indians called them no see-ums). These warm afternoons have at times been miserable with the biting of these little critters. I have found that wearing dark colored clothing helps as they seem to be attracted to light colors. I can't do anything about my skin color though.

The absence of pirate bugs will be the deciding factor in getting out into the tree stands. Hanging them in September was a pain with the bugs so I purposed to wait until cooler temps to use them. There was a time when the October 1 start date for bow season would see me out. I wouldn't miss it. Those days (and younger age) are gone.

I expect to see the foliage in the understory plants diminish with this and coming frosts which helps, as well. But when the plants begin to droop, I know from past experience that I'll see something else "off in the weeds" at our parks. That being trash.

What do an old blanket, a tennis shoe, and plastic bottles and cans have in common? These are all things that get left in the un-mowed areas near campsites and hiking trails.

In years past, I have picked up discarded refuse from clothing to tents, broken folding chairs to frisbees, and assorted items of plastic food packaging and plastic bags. And there are some items that I can't talk about in this column. All that was found in spite of park staff regularly cleaning up the areas. Those couple of twelve packs of empty beer cans left at a site in July invariably had several more that were tossed off into the darkness that will finally show up with the dying back of fall vegetation.

Especially discouraging (but not surprising) is the old problem of fishing line left behind by anglers. Some of it was snagged high up in trees where retrieving it is difficult, but most was just strewn along the shore. Some still have hooks and weights attached.

Unsightly trash is a problem, but discarded fishing line is deadly stuff for wildlife. Birds try to incorporate it into their nests and get tangled in it. I have cut several free from such traps over the years, but countless others are never rescued. I have seen everything from robins to geese tangled in the stuff. Discarded fish line is bad for people, too. Our staff spends considerable time unwinding old line that is tightly wrapped around the spindle shaft on a mower. It will eventually cut into the grease seals and force expensive repairs when the bearings are destroyed.

So, my message here to anglers, picnickers, hikers and campers, please pick up after yourselves. Take home the bait containers, cans, bottles, shoes, line, wrappers and other debris you bring on your outdoor adventures. And a BIG thanks to the more thoughtful among you who typically take home more than you brought with you as we try to keep our precious parks and lakes clean, safe and attractive.



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