The Environmental Impact of Cairn Making

Cairn, which is the Scottish Gaelic for stone man can invoke images of faith and motivation, of the spiritual journey. In the backcountry, cairn making is a popular pastime and it’s easy to see why people are drawn to these sweet little stacks of flat rocks that are shaped like children’s building blocks. A hiker with aching shoulders and black insects buzzing around her ears will try to select a stone that has the here are some interesting facts about cairns right mix of flatness wide, tilt, width, and depth. After a few missed opportunities (one too large, another too small) A true skeptic will select the stone which is perfect to fit. The second layer of the Cairn is complete.

Many people are unaware that cairns can create negative environmental impacts particularly when it is done near water sources. When rocks are removed from the shore of a pond or lake, it disturbs the ecosystem and destroys the habitat for microorganisms which support the entire food chain. These rocks may be removed from the edges of a pond, river or lake by erosion and end up in places where they may harm wildlife or humans.

In light of this, the practice of building cairns should be discouraged in areas where there are rare or endangered reptiles, amphibians, or mammals or plants and flowers that require water that is trapped under the rocks. And if you build your cairn in private land, it may violate federal and state regulations that protect the land’s natural resources. This may result in fines or even a detention.

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