The Environmental Impact of Cairn Making

The word cairn, from the Scottish Gaelic for stone man can bring up images of faith and motive, of an enlightened journey. In the backcountry, cairn-making is a popular trend and it’s not difficult to understand why people are attracted to these adorable piles of flat rocks which are positioned like child’s building blocks. A hiker with sore shoulders and black flying flies buzzing her ears will attempt to find a stone that is the perfect combination of flatness width, tilt, and depth. After a few near-misses (one too bulgy, one too small), a purist will select the one that is perfect for the spot it’s placed. The second layer of the Cairn is complete.

Many people are unaware that cairn construction can cause environmental harm particularly when it is constructed near water sources. When rocks are removed from the edge a river, lake or pond, they alter the ecosystem and cause destruction of the habitat for microorganisms which help to support the entire food chain. The rocks could also be swept away from the edge of a river, pond or lake by erosion and end up in areas where they may harm humans or wildlife.

Cairns should not be constructed in areas that contain rare or endangered mammals, reptiles amphibians, plants, or other species or in areas where the moisture is locked under the rocks. If you build the cairn on private property it could be in can vdr software be used as an accounting software violation of the laws of the state and federal government that protect the land’s natural resources. This could result in fines or even arrest.

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