Traveling to trail races, camping adventures, or road trips are common activities during the warmer spring, summer, and fall months.
Much effort is spent planning these outings, however it’s been my personal experience that I’ve spent very little time considering how my traveling to different parts of the country for these outdoor activities impacts the nature that I am enjoying.
Luckily there are people who dedicate their days to protecting our environment from the threat of aggressive invasive species. One of them, SKORA Ambassador Erika E and supervisor of the Teton County Weed and Pest District has put together a list of ways you can do your part.
You certainly do not have to do them all, but even doing a bit here and there has a positive impact on the local environments.
Top 10 Ways to Play Clean Go!
1. Remove plants, animals, and mud from running shoes, hiking boots & gear
Invasive species like zebra mussels, emerald ash borer, and yellow star thistle can hitch rides on your footwear and outdoor gear. Some species can latch directly on to these items, some can hide out inside them, and plant parts can become wrapped around them. Making sure there are no critters or plant materials tagging along is a great way to Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks!
2. Remove seeds and mud from pets, horses and pack animals
Invasive species seeds can hide in animal fur and hooves to be dropped off somewhere down the trail, starting a new infestation! Play Clean Go by removing all seeds and mud from your pets and stock animals before and after your adventures.
3. Hit the car wash! Remove plants, animals and mud from UTV/ATVs & vehicles
Keeping your vehicles clean won’t just help keep them in good working order, but you’ll be doing your part to protect our environment as well! The mud on your vehicle and stuck underneath can carry seeds, plant parts, eggs and immature invasive species to new locations. Give it a good scrub down, including the undercarriage, before and after recreating will help Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks!
4. Clean your gear before entering & leaving the recreation site
Keeping your tent, packs, and other gear clean not only extends the life of your outdoor essentials, it helps stop invasive species from traveling around as well. Enjoying our favorite recreation sites won’t be the same if these areas are destroyed by invasive species. Keeping gear clean ensures there will be no unwanted hitchhikers on your next adventure!
5. Stay on designated trails
Concentrating our outdoor activities along already cleared trails can help to reduce the impact recreating has on native plant communities. Going off trail also creates more disturbances which can increase erosion and open up new ground, making it vulnerable to invasive plant invasion. Learn more tips from PlayCleanGo partner, Leave No Trace.
6. Plant native species in your flower bed & around your home
Unlike many nonnative plants, native plants are hardy, less susceptible to pests and diseases, and unlikely to escape and become invasive. The great variety of plants native to any region gives gardeners options that work well in any type of garden design. Because maintaining native plants requires less work, they provide excellent choices for large commercial landscapes as well as residential gardens. Of course, native plants have other benefits. They help conserve water, reduce mowing costs, provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife; protect the soil; and save money on fertilizer and pesticides. Resources for landscaping with natives can be found here.
7. Use certified weed-free hay
Uncertified hay can be a vector for many invasive plant species. When horseback riding, use certified weed free. Feed stock animals certified weed free hay at least 72 hours before traveling into remote areas. When using hay for other purposes and weed-free hay is not available, use straw because it is less likely to carry weed seeds.
8. Use certified or local firewood
Our forests are under attack by invasive species such as emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. If you need firewood for your next camping trip, buy certified, heat treated firewood, purchase local firewood, or (if permitted in your area) gather local fallen wood on site to reduce the spread of invasive species. Inspecting firewood on your own DOES NOT work. Our forests will thank you! Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks at playcleango.org or visit
PlayCleanGo partner, Don’t Move Firewood, for more information.
9. Learn about & report invasive species
It can be great fun to learn more about the environment you Play Clean Go around in! Area land and water managers have many print, online, and smartphone-ready resources that can teach you what should be thriving in your recreation area, and also what should not be! Take the initiative to make yourself, your friends, and your family more aware about what’s out there!
10. Clean, Drain, Dry your boat, trailer and fishing gear
Keeping your boat clean, drained and dry will go a LONG way to reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species such as mussels, hydrilla and rock snot. For tips on the most effective way to Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks visit PlayCleanGo partner, Wildlife Forever, for more info on the Clean Drain Dry Initiative.