Mystery Map: Revealed!

Alas!  The North Woods Stewards are excited to unveil the true meaning of this week’s mystery map.  The mystery map represents…

0, 3, 6, and 9 represent the amount of dog excrement found on the Green Trail and portions of the Red and Blue Trails.

Dog doo!

So what’s so bad about dog doo on the trails?  The Stewards love to see dog walkers enjoying the North Woods with their leashed friends.  However, we ask dog owners to pick up after their dogs because canine excrement affects the vegetation of the woods.  Seeds and nutrients are contained within dog feces.  When dog owners do not clean up after their pets, the nutrients and seeds may be spread along the the trailside, thereby damaging current vegetation and affecting the kinds of vegetation that would normally grow there.

The map shows that some portions of the trails contain more dog feces than others.  This pattern is indicative of the fact that dog owners make up a substantial portion of the users of the North Woods.  Dogs are always welcome in the North Woods (on leashes), however, when a lot of people are remiss in cleaning up after their pets, the ecosystem becomes degraded.

This problem relates to Garrett Hardin’s thesis, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”  In essence, Hardin affirms that when multiple users use a community resource (in our case, the North Woods), the impact of each individual user results in the degradation of that resource.  After Judge Henry Hilton’s (the owner of the land containing the present day North Woods) death in the early part of the twentieth century, the North Woods has been a community space.   Hence, the North Woods has always been, and will remain, a resource for the community to share.  In order to prevent the long-term degradation of the North Woods, we all should do our part by following the College’s rules of appropriate use of the Woods and cleaning up after our dogs.

Questions or concerns?  Please feel free to contact Skidmore’s Sustainability Coordinator, Riley Neugebauer, at 518-580-5865 or 


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