Don't Bust the Crust - How You Can Protect The Desert Ground

Moab, UT: Biological soil crust, also known as cryptobiotic soil, is the foundation of desert plant life. This black, knobby crust is made up of many different living organisms and plays a vital role in maintaining the desert eco-system. However, this sensitive soil is extremely fragile and can take decades to grow. Even a footstep can damage the crust for decades, having lasting impacts on the desert environment. 

So next time you're out exploring the Southwest, please stick to trails, especially if you on a bike or OHV. If traveling overland while hiking or canyoneering, use a route that follows washes and slick rock. As a last resort, walk through sensitive areas single file in order to minimize the impact of your foot steps. Take the time to teach your friends and other visitors about the importance of this incredible ground cover. Together, we can help protect our desert eco-systems for generations to come! 

Have fun.  Be Safe.  Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace’s Alex Roberts and Emy Gelb are part of the 2016 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Fjall Raven, ENO, Deuter, Thule, Taxa Outdoors and SmartWool.