Here in the education department, we love playing scat detective while leading field trips on the trails. However, nobody is ever excited to discover dog poop while exploring the park. It is smelly, unsightly, and sometimes our less coordinated students step in it.
Even though doody is natural and biodegradable, the extra excrement is not only a nuisance, but it also puts a lot of pressure on our local watershed. Feces, leaf litter, rotten fruit, and dead animals all get broken down very slowly by decomposers in the soil. If 1 in 4 people in the U.S. has a dog, takes their dog to the park and doesn’t pick up the poop, then at 3 million visits a year that might be 750,000 extra poops or about 562,500 pounds of poop that those decomposers need to break down. And they just can’t handle it that fast. You could also think about it as 125 dogs per square mile; which a forest just can’t sustain. Instead, all those extra nutrients and potential diseases are washed into Floyds Fork where algae will happily eat up all that food, creating an algal bloom. While the poor fox and otter that drink from the creek contract worms because the poop wasn’t sterilized by decomposition.
To help keep our creek and trails clean, the park is happy to provide free dog poop bags at trailheads and kiosks. So next time you come out to The Parklands to get some fresh air and soak up some sunshine with the pup, grab a couple of bags before you head out on the trail. You never know when nature might call.
About the Author
Erin Kinnetz joined The Parklands as a Summer Science Camp Counselor in the summer of 2017. As the camp season ended, she transitioned to the role of Interpretive Ranger, supporting Outdoor Classroom programs. In February 2018, Erin was promoted to Education Specialist. In this position she is the main teacher for Wednesday Wonders, in-school outreach and field trips. She is also in charge of developing curricula for these programs and making sure they meet current Kentucky science standards, while also encouraging stewardship of natural places. Erin received her undergraduate degree in Scientific Illustration and furthered her education by pursuing a Masters of Science in Biology with a special emphasis on Ecology. Before joining The Parklands, Erin spent a number of years in community mental health care on a crisis stabilization unit, helping kids work through difficult times. She has loved working with children ever since. In her free time, she teaches yoga and experiments with arts and materials.