"Your hiking boots can unwittingly transport invasive plants and disease organisms to wherever you're hiking."
Barry Rice, invasive species specialist with The Nature Conservancy
By Barry Rice
Keep your boots clean — that's my tip.
Your hiking boots can unwittingly transport invasive plants and disease organisms to wherever you're hiking. So some years ago, I started cleaning my boots the night before I was to head out into the field. I would pick off all the seeds and clean any mud out of the treads. This practice decreased the chance that I might accidentally introduce non-native seeds to my study areas.
I also sprayed the shoes (and especially the soles) with a 10 percent bleach solution. Doing so helps kill any disease organisms that might be hitching a ride on my boots, too.
Now my wife and I do this to our boots during any trip to natural areas. We don't just do this when travelling out of the state or country — we do this between each watershed, even within our state. I don't want to help transmit diseases like sudden oak death syndrome, Port Orford cedar root disease, and other forest ailments!
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.