How does a boot brush station work?
The signs encourage users to use the brush portion of the station to remove mud, dirt and seed (potentially invasive) debris from their boot treads before entering trail areas. As hikers walk the trails, their shoes can pick up the seeds of invasive species which often line the edges of trails. If shoes are not properly cleaned before and after each hike, they have the potential to transport invasive species to new areas, and start new infestations. Boot brush stations give hikers a reminder and an opportunity to remove “hitchhikers from their boots, minimizing the opportunity for the spread of invasive species to other areas.
Do boot brush stations actually prevent new infestations of invasive species?
While it can’t be proven that they are 100% effective against the spread of invasive species, seeds found around boot brush stations can give an idea of the species being carried on boot treads. A research project done in southern Illinois sampled the dirt mounds created around the boot brush stations and found 39 different species, 14 of which were exotic plant species. Visit PlayCleanGo’s website for more information on that research.
Knobstone Trail Boot Brush Stations
In 2021, the Clark County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) received a grant from the Indiana Native Plant Society (INPS), to establish five boot brush stations along the Knobstone Trail. CCHIRP was given the responsibility of completing the project with guidance from the SWCD. The Knobstone Trail was chosen because, due to its ruggedness, many people use it to prepare for hiking the Appalachian Trail. Therefore, the trail receives a lot of traffic from a diverse group of people.
Below are pictures of three of our boot brush stations after installation, and the hard-working DNR personnel that installed them!
Our signs, installed at five of the Knobstone Trail trailheads, are intended to educate trail users about invasive species and their effects, and encourage them to prevent the movement and spread of invasive species along trails and into sensitive areas.
The Knobstone Trail (KT) is Indiana’s longest footpath – a 60-mile backcountry-hiking trail, which passes through the 24,000 acres of Clark State Forest in Clark County, Indiana. The trail has a southern terminus about 15 miles north of Louisville, KY, in the Deam Lake State Recreation Area; its northern end is at Delaney Creek Park near Salem, IN. The initial 32-mile segment of the trail was opened in 1980.
The trail traverses land with extreme relief distinguished by narrow, relatively flat-topped ridges typical of the Knobstone Escarpment – one of southern Indiana’s natural land regions. The Knobstone Escarpment is one of Indiana’s most scenic areas, rising more than 300 feet above low-lying farmland in some areas. A central upland, mixed hardwood forest dominates much of the escarpment. “Knobstone” shale, which is actually a combination of weathered brown shale, sandstone and siltstone, is common in the area and gives the escarpment its name.
Because the trail follows the Knobstone Escarpment, there are many steep climbs and descents. It can be regarded as a rugged, difficult trail to hike. Because of this, many people use the trail to prepare for hiking the Appalachian Trail. It is managed and maintained at backcountry standards, and structures are limited to primitive steps and waterbars.
The Knobstone Trail passes primarily through state forests, which are managed for multiple uses including recreation, timber and wildlife production, and watershed protection. The areas are open to the public for hunting during season, and are managed actively to increase the fish and wildlife population. Timber management and harvesting also provide diverse cover and food necessary for the perpetuation of many game and non-game animal species, and helps ensure that forest resources will be available for future generations.
The trail was developed through a cooperative effort between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Forestry and Outdoor Recreation; the Nature Conservancy has helped acquire land necessary to complete the trail corridor. Construction and maintenance of the trail relies on the efforts of volunteers.