From John Hewlitt:
“It’s summertime and a lot of people are traveling to our wild places all around the country so let’s make this PSA go viral and let’s do our part to save our natural heritage. It’s not art. It causes very real problems for many aquatic species. Ideally, dismantling the stacks one at a time would be best, but if you feel inclined to #KickRocks then always verify nothing is present prior to doing so.”
Cairns suck, plain and simple, especially so if they are built smack in the middle of flowing creeks and streams. Traditionally, these rock piles were used to mark trails (ON LAND), and many still do this job high up on mountains and in the highlands. However, with the surge of new outdoor participants, these annoying piles are stacking up in creeks adjacent to trails all over the country. As the video above explains, by creating cairns, you are destroying in-stream habitats, not just for threatened amphibians like the Eastern Hellbender, but for trout and the smaller fish they rely upon for food. So next time you come across one of these rock stacks, just go ahead and kick it over and redistribute the rocks around the streambed. Oh, and if you find man-made rock dams built by the same cairn-builders, go ahead and dismantle those too.
If you need more convincing, check out this study regarding the damage rock cairns and dams can have on aquatic life!