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Public access to woods brings responsibility

EDITORIAL

This week we have a story about the Finger Lakes Land Trust making an effort to conserve the lands surrounding the southern end of Skaneateles Lake.

The benefits of keeping this area green are clear: keeping the lake water clean, protecting local nature and keeping the woods and shore clear of excess clutter and noise.

Some of this conservation effort is through easements and promoting agriculture, but there are also a few nature preserves open for public use.

Since there aren’t many state or county parks in the area, places like Ripley Hill Nature Preserve or the High Vista Preserve offer people the ability to go for a quiet hike in the woods, enjoy nature and get some scenic views of the lake.

These preserves are a public asset, but it wouldn’t be hard for people to misuse the privilege of having access to this land.

One of the biggest problems any type of nature trail or park will encounter is litter. No matter where you are, it is never okay to litter, but nonetheless it happens. When out in the woods, it is always a good idea to a carry a zip-close bag with you. This bag can be used to carry out litter that others have already left behind or any wrappers or trash you may create.

Another issue that could come into play for nature preserves is misuse of the trails. Government owned parks have police or park rangers to enforce posted rules, but nature preserves likely don’t have this luxury. While it may be fun, riding ATVs or dirt bikes on nature trails will tear up the ground, create mud and generate a lot of noise and pollution.

People could also wander away from the trails and onto other people’s property or near dangerous cliffs or ravines.

These publicly-available lands should be considered a blessing to the community, but the people who use them should also remember that they are lucky to have that privilege and they have a responsibility to keep the lands pristine for everyone to enjoy.

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