Throughout the Waitakere Ranges Regional Parks you’ll see a variety of shoe cleaning stations.
Some are reasonably simple set ups with a few scrubbing brushes and spray bottles filled with disinfectant and others (usually at the beginning of popular/major tracks) have large drums of disinfectant and cleaning pits built into the ground.
Regardless of the size or complexity of the set up, all of the stations have been placed throughout the forest to combat (or contain) the Kauri Dieback Disease.
The spores which carry the disease (which has no cure and will end up killing the infected tree) are easily spread by walking near infected Kauri and then moving that contaminated soil in the tread of your shoes to unaffected areas of the park so these stations ensure that the soil from one area of the park is not carried into another, which is why they are located at various sites throughout the forest (not just the entry points).
SO you can imagine my frustration when I see trail runners continuing directly past the stations – because you know, the speed that you can run a loop is so much more important than a few trees .. *eye roll*
Do you know what happens when we do things like that?
The powers that be close the tracks and then where would those people that ignored the cleaning stations plan on trail running? And perhaps more importantly, where will our kids go to see the mighty Kauri’s that they read about in school if we kill them all off due to the fact we couldn’t stop in the middle of our run/hike/walk?
How about we ALL take the time for the three S’s, actually scrap that I’m going to make it the four S’s when we come across a shoe cleaning station.
- STOP at every shoe cleaning station
- Scrub your shoes
- Spray disinfectant
- Stay on the tracks
I found this really informative Kauri Dieback Resource book which was written for schools that has a tonne of information on the disease and what we can do to help protect our trees. Please make the time to give it a read.
I’m planning on doing some of the projects outlined in it with my kids, they’ll love it just as much as cleaning their shoes at the stations AND hugging the trees.
Till next time
PS – If you don’t want to read an entire book here is a handy fact sheet(pdf file) on the Kauri Dieback