Everywhere we looked along the trail to Glacier Vista in Mt. Rainier we saw “Preserve Fragile Meadows. Stay On Rock-Lined Trail” signs. I just figured hikers had been walking off the path and trampling flowers. Maybe kids weren’t listening to their parents warnings and were smashing the foliage. Dek sure tries to do that often enough. Little did I know it ran even deeper than the present human population.
Last night I was doing a little research and I found this on the Mount Rainier website.
The Paradise meadows were once home to a golf course, rope tows for skiers, an auto campground, and rows of tent cabins. All of these activities damaged the meadows, as does walking off-trail. Management practices have changed over the years, and we now protect and restore our precious subalpine meadows.
Well no wonder they were so vigilant about the meadows. There is no doubt that the flowers are gorgeous and certainly deserve to be protected. I had no idea that a golf course had once been part of Paradise. I can’t even imagine how that would work! I guess if you take away the parking lot, visitors center and add in a few sand traps and hills, but why even bother. Times certainly have changed. Mother Nature was getting the chance to take back the meadow.
So how do you keep your kids from trampling mother nature?
Anyone who goes hiking through nature with toddlers knows how hard it is to get them to listen. They don’t care about boundary lines, where they can and can’t walk, and what proper park etiquette is. The word “no” (or it’s equivalent) pops up and suddenly they have gone deaf to anything coming out of your mouth.
- Think about what works at home. How do you reinforce listening and expected behavior?
- Our most effective option right now is that if Dek doesn’t listen to what we ask him to do, he has to get carried. For a 2 year old nothing is worse than not being able to walk and explore on his own. It’s a pretty good incentive for us so far.
- Draw an imaginary line- this works half the time with Dek. We tell him “this is the line, don’t cross it.” He actually listens sometimes, but it’s hard on a rough trail.
- Point out the flowers and give them a sniff. Make up a story about the flowers and how they will be sad if they get stepped on.
How can you help preserve the meadows and other endangered areas?
- Try your best to stay on the path (we slipped up a few times and couldn’t even find the path other times.) Explain to your kids why it is so important.
- Pay attention to signs. Read them aloud with your children so they know others are asking this of them, not just you.
- Pick up after yourself and remind kids not to litter
- Leave the mountain where you found it. Rocks may not seem important to a meadow but they do hold soil up and roots in place. This is especially hard for our family since Dek thinks rocks are better than food.
- Don’t bring your own plants to the park. Non-native species can be detrimental to a meadow. Invasive plants can take over and choke out native plants where they would otherwise thrive.
- Give trail guides and park rangers an extra smile and thank you. Because of them you and your family get to enjoy some of the worlds most beautiful and astounding sights.
- Enroll your kids in a Junior Ranger program. There are two levels to the program that run from ages 3-13 years old. Kids will learn more about the parks from experts who live and breathe this stuff. They may not listen to you, but they just might listen to a guy (or gal) who can give them a Junior Ranger badge. I still have mine from our trip to Maine when I was a kid.
- For more information on the Junior Ranger programs around the country, check out Trekaroo and Pitstops For Kids posts.
- Look into ways to donate to the conservation effort
- Look into volunteer programs at your local parks. Also look into volunteer vacations at national parks. They are always looking for volunteers to help maintain trails and keep areas growing.
- Check out Family On Bike‘s first hand volunteering experience at Big Bend National Park.