How to Keep Yourself and Nature Safe When You Explore

Research has proven that getting outside into nature helps reduce stress…and right now we all have a lot of stress. The trails at Wehr are still open at this time for you to use to explore and relax. And judging by the number of cars in the parking lot, many people are indeed using Wehr’s trails. As always, our first concern is the health and well-being of our visitors, volunteers, staff, as well as the health of the land we all love to explore. 

Keeping Yourself Safe

With so many people using the trails it is important to practice effective physical distancing (a more precise term than social distancing since we all need to stay socially connected). CDC guidelines still apply when you are outdoors! Please review the important points in this infographic from Milwaukee County Parks. 

Keep these points in mind: Always leave a six-foot distance between yourself and people who are not in your quarantine group, even when passing on the trails and stopping at popular birding spots. Be aware of your surroundings and give others a wide berth. You should be prepared to choose a different, less traveled route if you arrive at Wehr and the park is busy. Scientists have shown that the coronavirus can survive for many hours or days on surfaces. This includes natural surfaces such as rock and wood, as well as our benches and handrails. To be safe, treat every surface as a source of infection and carry hand sanitizer with you on your hikes. If you are ill or have have been exposed to someone who is ill, please do not visit until you have undergone a 14-day quarantine.

Keeping Nature Safe

While it is wonderful to see so many people out exploring nature, it is important to remember the choices we make have an impact on the land. Follow these rules to be a good neighbor to Wehr’s plants and wildlife:  

Please stay on the trails. We maintain well marked trails for your safety and for the safety of nature. Stepping off paths crushes plants and spreads invasive plants. This is especially important in spring when delicate, hard to see ephemeral wildflowers are at their most vulnerable stage. These flowers are the first foods for bees and other pollinators coming out of hibernation. They in turn become a food source for our returning songbirds. Mother Nature’s food chain in action. Please stay on the trail so the chain is not broken.

Practice Leave No Trace. Please be prepared to take whatever trash you create with you. We do not have staff onsite to empty trash cans and trash should not be left on the trails or in our parking lot. Likewise, plan to have no access to restrooms. The call of nature is natural but leaving it behind in a public place is illegal and a health hazard! 

Leave your dog and bike at home. Bikes create ruts in the trails especially in spring and increase erosion. With spring officially here the migratory birds are returning. Ground nesters are looking for safe places to build their nests and dogs drive them away from their important nesting habitats at Wehr. Dogs represent danger to them…birds don’t know you are keeping your dog on a leash and couldn’t come and destroy their nest and/or eat their babies.  People benefit as well. No one wants to walk through dog “poop”.

Thank you for helping to care for Wehr’s wonderful land resources. Stay safe!