Imagine a world where there is no fall leaves that crunch under your boots, no shady spot to lay in on a hot day, or piles of leaves for your dogs to jump in. These are just a few of the ways we find pleasure with trees, but what if there wasn’t any form of forest management? What would happen to our forests?
In all honesty, our forests technically wouldn’t need our management if it weren’t for our own reliance on forests as a resource. Forests have covered this Earth for hundreds of millions of years, long before humans even existed. Back then, forests were able to manage themselves. The trees grew and provided resources like oxygen, shelter, food, and more to the animals that lived in their forests. When the trees died, they continued to provide for the animals of the forest, just in a new way. Animals could live in their hollowed trunks, use their branches to build homes, and benefit from the nutrients as the tree decomposed. In life and death, the tree provides.
Today, trees still are a great resource for wildlife and humans alike. They provide us with the lumber we use to build our homes, the paper we need to do our jobs, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. The only difference is that now we need to properly manage our harvesting so future generations can also utilize this resource.
Forest management was created to save the trees from depletion so we could learn how to properly manage and harvest trees. There are a variety of careers that focus on maintaining our forests such as…..
While these are just a few of the many careers in forestry. Whether you’re a federal employee, state employee or a landowner, your role in forest management is vital to protecting our forests. Although these are very different roles, they each play a large part in keeping these lands safe and healthy. At the end of the day, we’re all working towards the same goal, and that’s sustainable management of our forests.
For more on careers in forestry, join the Into the Outdoors Adventure Team members Charlie and Lucas as they head on a “special mission” to explore the diverse career opportunities and pathways for young people interested in natural resources.
Year after year, the question of purchasing a real versus artificial tree enters the homes of many. So which is the more sustainable option? The answer may surprise you!
At first glance, artificial trees seem like a sustainable choice. They are reusable and don’t require cutting down a living tree, but there are hidden factors that make artificial trees less sustainable than you’d think.
While artificial trees do have their pros — like cost efficiency, reusability and convenience — they actually have a high environmental impact. Environmental impact refers to the direct effects that activities and natural events have on the environment.
Other countries make most artificial trees and ship them to the United States. Because of this, the impact from transportation increases the environmental impact of artificial trees.
On the bright side, artificial trees can be used every year, so the longer you use your tree the more you offset its environmental impact! Unfortunately, they usually only last about 6 to 10 years, so they often end up in landfills before they can be considered sustainable.
So the question becomes, which is worse: cutting down a tree every year or throwing out a plastic tree every 6 to 10 years? Well, there’s a bit more to this story than that.
Would you believe us if we told you that cutting down a tree can actually be done sustainably? Well, believe it! Most holiday trees are harvested from tree farms where trees are grown for the sake of being cut down, kind of like a cornfield.
Real trees help the environment by cleaning the air, stabilizing the soil and providing a habitat for wildlife. Using this land for growing trees also prevents the land from being turned into a parking lot or shopping mall, while still giving back to the community and environment.
Tree farms plant at least one tree for each one sold, so you can be sure that the tree you take home is being replaced by a new one on the farm. These farms protect wild forests from unsustainable harvesting where there isn’t a guarantee that a new tree will be planted to replace a cut one.
Believe it or not, most national forests allow citizens to sustainably harvest trees from the forest. As long as citizens have a permit and follow the proper procedures and regulations, it’s totally sustainable!
The US Forest Service works with other organizations to properly reforest our national forests for future generations to enjoy. For more information on tree harvesting in national forests, go to the US Department of Agriculture website.
These are both great options to ensure the tree you are bringing into your home was grown and harvested sustainably!
So what do you do when it’s time to take down the decorations? Just like there are ways to harvest sustainably, there are plenty of ways to dispose of real trees sustainably too!
Since trees are biodegradable, meaning they naturally break down back into the environment, they can be recycled in many ways. Cut your tree into firewood or small coasters to be used at home, or have them recycled into the community.
Check to see if you live in an area that offers a free curbside pickup tree recycling service. Oftentimes cities and communities use the trees as mulch for public parks and other spaces. This fresh mulch helps enrich the soil and prevent erosion.
Some cities recycle trees back into the environment by laying them on the beach to help prevent erosion. They also might sink them into lakes and ponds to create fish habitats.
Unfortunately, once artificial trees end up in landfills they stay there forever because they aren’t biodegradable. Artificial trees are made with a material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can contain lead and other harmful toxins. This material is not recyclable in most areas.
If your tree is still in good condition, donate it to a local church, library, business or school. If your tree has seen better days, use it in a craft such as a homemade wreath or garland. There are lots of sustainable options for continuing to reuse artificial trees.
When it comes down to naming the greener holiday tree, choosing a real versus artificial tree shines as the more eco-friendly option in the eyes of most experts when done properly. But remember, whichever tree you choose, there are ways to make it sustainable.
If you choose an artificial tree, buy American-made to reduce transportation impacts. And if you already have an artificial tree, keep using it for as long as you can! If you keep it long enough, you can lower the environmental impact to less than that of a natural tree.
If you’re picking out a real tree, harvest it sustainably from tree farms or through the US Forest Service. Don’t go out and cut down a tree without a proper permit.
And get creative with your recycling options! Happy holidays!
You’ve probably heard of spincasters and maybe even trolling rods, but have you ever heard of a cane pole? Cane poles are traditionally a large stalk of bamboo with a line and bait at the end. Cane poles have proven themselves to be a successful fishing tool dating back many generations. The modern version of the cane pole is made from fiberglass or graphite, and can collapse like a telescope for ease of storage. If you’re brand new to fishing, cane poles are a simple way to learn the basics!
Cane poles are different than your stereotypical fishing rod, but they’re easy to use! They are usually recommended at lengths between 10 and 15 feet, and the line should match the length of your rod or extend a little longer. Use the pole to drop your bait into ‘fishy’ spots where fish like to hang out, such as by submerged logs or in the reeds. When you feel a bite, gently pull up on your pole and set the hook, this secures the hook in the fish’s mouth so it doesn’t just eat your bait and swim away. Then slowly raise the rod into a vertical position until the fish is close enough to you that you’re able to flip it up on shore or into your boat. For a safer landing, and less jolting to the fish, scoop the fish into a net and be sure not to lose it! Make sure when you release the fish not to throw it back into the water, instead hold it in the water until it swims away on its own.
Cane poles are a fun and affordable way to get started fishing. Given the simplistic and traditional design, all you need is your pole, hook, line and bait, and you’re ready to catch some fish! This type of rod is great for catching small panfish like bluegill, perch and crappie, but you might get lucky and find a smallmouth bass on your line! Plus, the length of these poles helps you drop your bait exactly where you want it, and the reel-free set up makes tangled messes a thing of the past. The old-school bamboo rods are very durable and may even be tougher than regular fishing rods, so say goodbye to broken poles. Not to mention the modern telescopic cane poles are great for easy storage and travel.
Like all good things, nothing is ever perfect. There are a lot of benefits to using cane poles, but there are some downsides too depending on what type of fishing experience you are looking for. If you’re looking to catch some big fish like walleye and largemouth bass, the cane pole might not be the best choice. Cane poles are also limited in how deep they reach since the line can’t be reeled in or released, and with bigger fish it can be harder to fight them as they come out of the water.
Cane poles are a great option to try at least once, especially if you are looking for an inexpensive and easy way to get started fishing. It’s always a good idea to do your research and make sure you are using the proper equipment, for the safety of the fish and your own enjoyment, before you start fishing. If you don’t, make sure you have someone along to mentor you! Maybe you’ll be able to mentor someone in fishing someday!
For more tips and tricks, join Into the Outdoors Adventure Team member Ben and his friends on this latest episode as they try out cane pole fishing at their favorite local fishing spot! Learn alongside Ashten, Lucy and Antonio as Ben teaches them the fishing basics like bait types, safety tips and the best spots to drop your bait!
What’s your favorite animal? It’s hard to pick just one right? There are millions of different animal species on Earth, and thousands of breeds have been domesticated from those species. When it comes to the vast variety of animal species on our planet and our relationships with them, we cannot expect one person to learn all there is to know about caring for each and every one of them. That’s why there are multiple careers and pathways that specialize in helping different types of animals, all working together to help the animals that live on this planet.
The most well-known animal care provider is the veterinarian, but even this term is very ambiguous. While the term veterinarian informs that this is a person who is trained in caring for animals, there are many types of veterinarians, just like there are many types of animals! One thing most veterinarians have in common is that they only work with domesticated animals. Some common subgroups of veterinarians are: companion animal vets (primarily treat cats and dogs), exotic animal vets (primarily treat reptiles and amphibians) and livestock or large animal vets (primarily treat horses, cows, pigs, etc.).
So you might be wondering, if veterinarians only treat domesticated animals, then who takes care of injured or sick wildlife? Well, that would be the wildlife rehabilitators! Wildlife rehabilitators tend to be passionate volunteers, but they are professionally licensed in rehabilitation. They have the skills to nurse wildlife back to health, but they are not licensed to perform surgeries of any kind of wildlife, that’s where teamwork with veterinarians comes in. Many states actually require new wildlife rehabilitators to provide a letter of support from a veterinarian stating they will provide surgical help when needed in order to receive their certification.
Veterinarians are allowed to perform necessary surgeries on wild species, but they aren’t allowed to nurture the wildlife post-surgery. For example, a veterinarian might perform surgery on the broken leg of an injured bird, but once the surgery is done, the wildlife rehabilitators are responsible for feeding and caring for the bird until it is ready to be released back into the wild. If veterinarians want to participate in this rehabilitating work with wildlife, they would have to receive the same training and certification to work as rehabilitators.
Even with these certain certifications, there are different types of wildlife rehabilitators that specialize in helping different species of wildlife. Some wildlife rehabilitators specialize in prey species, such as rabbits, birds, squirrels and more, while others may specialize in predatory birds like hawks, eagles and owls. There are also specialists who work with larger animals such as deer, beavers and foxes. Wildlife hospitals work together to ensure animals that are brought to them by caring civilians find their way to the proper specialists.
Overall, the biggest difference between veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators is the type of animals they have certification to treat. While they may not be working with the same species of animals, their love and respect for animals makes the world a better place.
Curious and want to know more about wildlife rehabilitation? Check out our Into the Outdoors episode “Into Wildlife Rehabilitation: First Responders” to join Zach and Sophie as they learn what they can do to help injured wildlife!
It might be easy to mistake an elk for a deer or maybe even a moose, but elk are in fact a separate species, despite being part of the deer family. Elk are one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and are known for the bull’s bugle call that can carry for more than a mile. They can live in meadows, rainforests, hardwood forests and even deserts making them very versatile.
Historically, elk roamed the United States and Canada at numbers around 10 million, but due to overhunting, habitat loss and urbanization their numbers had declined to a staggering 100,000 in the early 1900s. During this time, all elk east of the Mississippi River had completely disappeared, and for 130 years elk were eliminated in the state of Wisconsin. It wasn’t until 1995 that 25 elk were reintroduced into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Clam Lake and elk once again roamed in Wisconsin. But why is the return of the elk so important?
When elk were eliminated in the state of Wisconsin, their absence was felt heavily within the native tribes of the area, namely the Ojibwe Nation. The Ojibwe Nation is the most populous tribe in North America and they occupy land around the Great Lakes region. Restoring elk populations is important to the Ojibwe tribes because it is reviving a piece of their culture. Bringing elk back into Wisconsin was a major team effort by the Ojibwe tribes, the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. If you haven’t already, check out our episode “Into Bringing Back Wisconsin’s Elk” for more information on the importance of elk in the Ojibwe culture as well as the role the tribes had in bringing them back.
While the elks’ absence was felt culturally, it was also felt within the natural environment. In some locations, like Yellowstone National Park, elk are considered a keystone species. A keystone species is a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, in a way that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically. While Wisconsin’s elk aren’t considered keystone, they are currently listed as a protected species in the state of Wisconsin — not classified as endangered or threatened. The goal of the elk reintroduction is to restore the elk populations within the areas where they lived historically and to reinstate their connections within the natural ecosystem. Elk are important for managing and maintaining plant communities through their grazing and browsing, and they also provide a source of food for predators like wolves and bears. The proper management of the elk population can help promote biodiversity and ecosystem functions. While reintroducing elk into this ecosystem will take time, restoring elk populations is like piecing together the web of life, putting something back in place that had been missing.
As the elk numbers in Wisconsin continue to slowly grow, many efforts have been put in place to protect the fragile elk populations until their numbers are more established. One of the highest causes of elk fatality, unrelated to the natural ecosystem processes, is car accidents. To prevent these accidents, the DNR has implemented precautionary measures that give the radio tracking collars — fitted onto elk to gather information on their movements and preferred habitats — another purpose. The collars are given a reflective blaze orange color so they are more easily seen by drivers traveling during twilight hours. The DNR has also implemented an elk crossing warning system in high risk areas up in northern Wisconsin, where the Clam Lake elk herd lives. This system relies on the radio collars to trigger the flashing warning lights on the cautionary signs whenever elk were within a mile of these high risk areas, alerting drivers to slow down and watch the edges of the road. Taking measures to stop these preventable deaths helps manage the growth and survival of the elk herds in Wisconsin to ensure the success of their reintroduction.
Thanks to the work of restoration programs and conservation groups, wild elk populations are at an estimated one million living in the western United States and Canada. As these numbers continue to rise, elk are successfully reclaiming their role in the ecosystem.
With each step, a thousand years fall behind me, and I plunge deeper into the past. The ground beneath my feet exhales with every heavy footfall, swirling red dust engulfs my boots and stains them orange. My feet move on their own down the narrow switchbacks, rhythmic in the way they hit the ground, eyes glued to the laces making sure they wouldn’t wander. After hours of descent, the steps level and the cliff to my left fades away.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the familiar pink of a prickly pear. My gaze slowly lifts from my boots to the path ahead of me, either side overflowing with cacti and shrubbery, a natural garden in the middle of a canyon. Up to the sky, the canyon walls reach thousands of feet. Layers upon layers of multicolor strata from the eras stacked like pages of history tell the tales of the last 1.8 billion years.
In the distance a condor — Did I have you there? That scene was from four miles deep within the Grand Canyon, just one of the many natural wonders on our beautiful planet. Many of today’s youth are experiencing the world through their phone screens rather than setting it aside and taking in scenes like this for themselves. Here at Into the Outdoors, we’ve decided that the most efficient way to switch up the narrative is to take the problem and turn it into the solution.
Into the Outdoors is a youth environmental education television series that strives to inspire kids to put down their electronics and find adventure in the great outdoors. Our brand is built upon the very foundation that we have been competing against: digital media. Ironic, we know, but with good reason. Today’s youth have grown up with their hands wrapped around electronics rather than around tree limbs. By utilizing platforms like television, streaming and social media, we hope to get in front of the younger generations that are heavily ladened by the digital world and engage them in the science and excitement of the natural world.
Here at Into the Outdoors, we produce episodes that cover themes spanning a wide range of environmental topics such as wildlife, outdoor recreation, aquatic science, conservation, sustainable energy, ecosystem science, agriculture and more. We have grown to live on broadcast and PBS as well as on a variety of other streaming platforms such as Hulu, Roku, Vizio, Apple TV, Sling, Chromecast and FireTV, just to name a few. Our Facebook and Instagram followings are growing every day, and we’re looking to branch into more platforms as they inevitably arise. As the youth migrate to new platforms, we plan to meet them where they are, and even if just one life is changed thanks to our efforts, it’ll have been worth it.
While we do our best to hit the hard questions during our episodes, there is a lot of information to cover in a short period of time. This blog gives us the opportunity to dive deeper into specific questions and topics that have sparked interest in our viewers.
For example, after watching our episode on Into National Marine Sanctuaries, you may find yourself interested in learning more about how plastic in the ocean impacts marine life, or maybe how invasive species can affect an ecosystem. Your first stop on your search for answers should be right here to see what
resources we have for you in addition to our episodes. We will occasionally share project and activity ideas that can be done at home or in the classroom, so that this blog may serve as a resource for parents and educators looking to keep the lesson going! Our goal is to foster and nurture this curiosity and help it grow into a passion for the outdoors.
Now that I’ve introduced Into the Outdoors and our new blog, let me pull away the curtain and introduce myself. My name is Kylie Compe, and I am a Digital Content Specialist on the Into the Outdoors team, meaning I specialize in the creative ideation and logistical marketing implementation of our social campaigns. I have enjoyed co-founding projects like our Into the Outdoors Mini series on IGTV as well as creating fun, educational posts on topics that I am passionate about.
As a child, I spent most of my waking hours outside swimming in rivers and climbing trees. Not much has changed since then, whether it’s canoeing the Kickapoo, hiking the Grand Canyon or camping in the Black Hills, I still spend most of my free time in nature. My love for the outdoors has grown from a pastime into a passion for helping the environment. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Environmental Studies, so educating others on how our world works and our role in that process has become a goal very near to my heart.
It is a pleasure to be a part of a brand that is helping educate our youth on how to be the environmental stewards the world needs. That being said, the first step to environmental stewardship is getting kids excited about the
outdoors! We know it’s not always easy to get kids off their electronics, and sometimes that decision to unplug needs to be made themselves. If you’re looking for a way to coax your young learner in the right direction, slip some engaging educational content into your child’s social scrolling by having them follow Into the Outdoors on Instagram at @intotheoutdoorstv or download our app to stream all of our episodes in one easy place!
We’re always posting age-appropriate educational content to our social platforms to ensure a fun, kid-friendly experience that’s meant to inspire them to put down their phones and head Into the Outdoors. Join us on our adventures with our upcoming episodes, and keep an eye out for the next blog! See you out there!