The Environmental Impact of Cairn Making

The word”cairn” comes from the Scottish Gaelic meaning stone man. It can conjure images of purpose, faith, and the spiritual journey. Cairn building is a popular activity in the backcountry. It’s not difficult to see why people are drawn by these small piles of flat stones that are balanced as if they were blocks for children. A hiker who is suffering from aching shoulders and black flies buzzing around her ears will attempt to choose a rock that is the perfect combination of flatness, tilt, width and depth. After a few near-misses (one too bulgy, one too small), a purist will select the stone that is perfectly positioned. The second layer of the Cairn is now complete.

Many people don’t realize that cairn building can cause environmental harm particularly when it is done near water sources. When rock is removed from the edges of a pond, river or lake, it dishevels the ecosystem and destroys the habitat of microorganisms that feed the food chain. In addition these rocks can be transported by erosion to places where they could inflict harm on humans or wildlife.

In light hop over to this website of this, the practice of constructing cairns should be discouraged in areas with endangered or rare reptiles, amphibians, or mammals or plants and flowers that need moisture that is held in the rocks. And if you build the cairn on private property, it may violate state and federal regulations protecting the land’s natural resources and may result in fines or even arrest.

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