BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR TICKS
The spike of infected ticks in the state has caused state health officials to declare Lyme disease an epidemic. Ticks are tiny bugs most likely found in shady, damp, brushy, wooded or grassy areas (including backyards), especially in tall grass. Ticks feed on the blood of mammals and can bite you and spread diseases such as Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are spread to humans through the bite of tiny, infected ticks (in Massachusetts, by deer ticks). Lyme disease can cause serious joint, heart or central nervous system problems if it is not recognized early in the disease process and treated appropriately.
To prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, use tick repellant every time you go outside, and perform a daily tick check. Tick-borne illness is a serious matter, and some of the diseases can have a profound impact on an individual’s health. Read more on ticks and tick bite prevention here.
PIPING PLOVERS IN PLYMOUTH
Plymouth is proud to host the rare and federally threatened piping plover in the spring and summer when it nests and raises its chicks right on the beach in the sand. Piping plovers had been nesting here for thousands of years when the Pilgrims arrived and we hope they’ll be here for thousands more. You can help by learning a little about them and following a few rules.
Piping plovers return from their wintering grounds in the Bahamas in March to set up their territories and scrape depressions in the sand that are their nests. They usually lay four eggs and these and the chicks are so well camouflaged that you could step on one and not know it. The chicks are tiny; they have been described as “cotton balls on toothpick legs.” Despite their size, the chicks must start running around and feeding themselves just a day after hatching and need safety to do so.
At about 30 days old, the chicks can fly, but they remain on our beaches, along with their parents, eating as much as they can to fatten up for their migration south. By the beginning of September, almost all of the piping plovers have left.
You can have a positive impact and can do your part to take care of piping plovers by following these simple rules:
- Respect all areas fenced or posted for protection of wildlife, so you don’t step on one or scare it away from its eggs or young. If eggs are left alone, they can overheat or chill, or be eaten by a predator.
- Watch birds from a distance to avoid disturbing them as they feed and rest.
- Remove all trash from the beach, even apple cores and dropped chips, and do not feed any birds or other wildlife. Animals that are attracted to your garbage or handouts, such as gulls, raccoons and crows, will also eat piping plovers and their eggs. Also, most human food is unhealthy for animals.
- Fly kites away from plover areas. To a plover, a large object in the sky might be a hawk or owl or crow coming to eat them or their chicks, so they go into defensive mode instead of incubating eggs or feeding.
- Keep your dog leashed while on the beach and follow all posted rules about where they may be taken. For instance, no dogs are allowed on Long Beach past Day Parking from April 1 through Sept. 30.
Most of Plymouth’s piping plovers nest on Long Beach. For a map and a list of rules and regulations, visit http://www.plymouth-ma.gov/sites/plymouthma/files/uploads/plbpamphlet2013.pdf or http://www.plymouth-ma.gov/sites/plymouthma/files/uploads/longbeach.pdf
To learn more about piping plovers, visit https://www.nps.gov/caco/learn/nature/the-piping-plover.htm
For all information about Long Beach, visit http://www.plymouth-ma.gov/marine-and-environmental-affairs/pages/long-beach-information
OFF-ROAD RIDING DISCOURAGED
Looking to ride your dirt bike in the dirt, your four-wheeler where two wheelers dare not go?
Sorry, in this region that’s not, strictly speaking, legal.
It’s also something that local environmentalists frown upon because off-road vehicles – referred to in Massachusetts as OHV (Off Highway Vehicles) – can seriously damage our fragile, sandy soils, destroying prime habitat.
We’d suggest you take a walk instead, and enjoy what is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse parts of the state.
We’d also like you to know that the organizations that have created the Explore Natural Plymouth website don’t have their heads in the sand.
We are actively working to establish new, rational policies that recognize the need for legal OHV trails.
We can and will co-exist, but, for now, please understand and abide by local regulations.
If you’d like to be part of the effort to both protect this special environment and secure legal riding trails, contact Emmanuel Owusu at 617.626.1187 or Emmanuel.Owusu@Massmail.state.ma.us.
NOTHING BARREN ABOUT THE PINE BARRENS
Where is the Massachusetts Coastal Pine Barrens? If you’re visiting us in Plymouth County chances are you’re standing in it. Whether you are sailing, swimming, hiking, biking or birding during your visit, you are most likely enjoying yourself in the Pine Barrens.
Sand is the common denominator: There’s more of it in the woods than on the beach. Rare plants and species abound here, from the Pine Barrens Moth, to the Red Bellied Cooter, to the Plymouth Gentian and the New England Boneset. Just as rare are the communities on which these species depend: 48 natural communities including coastal plain ponds, sand plain grasslands and pitch pine/scrub oak forests – a fire-dependent community.
This is the second largest coastal pine barrens in the world! We could say so much more. Instead, we’ll just say, welcome.
INFORMATION FOR KITEBOARDERS
In Plymouth, except for Long Beach, kite boarders may set up, launch and kite from any public beach as long as they remain outside designated swim areas.
POISON IVY IS PERVASIVE
Poison Ivy is a plant that can cause allergic contact dermatitis – a red, itchy rash, hives or blisters. It is pervasive in New England. According to the Poison Ivy Guy:
“It grows pretty much anywhere and can be a free-standing shrub, a ropelike vine growing up a tree or a trailing shrub along the ground. It has three leaflets attached to the same smooth stem. They are sometimes a glossy, bright green but may be dull, and sometimes be colors other than green.” Avoid contact with all parts of the plant, or anything that may have rubbed against the plant, such as a dog, clothing, hose, etc
MOSQUITOES – MORE THAN A NUISANCE
Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance; they can be carriers of viruses that cause illness. West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE or “Triple E”) are viruses that can cause illness ranging from a mild fever to more serious disease like encephalitis or meningitis. They are spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. There are no specific treatments for either virus, but steps can be taken to protect yourself from illness, including:
- Using insect repellents
- Wearing long-sleeved clothing
- Scheduling outdoor activities to avoid the hours around dawn and dusk
- Repairing damaged window screens
- Removing standing water from the areas around your home
TAKE A HIKE-SAFELY
Plymouth and Plymouth County have miles and miles of walking and hiking trails. Be prepared to carry-in/carry-out all your belongings and trash. The terrain ranges from flat to rolling drumlins, and hikers should always be prepared and follow the Hiker’s Responsibility Code: You are responsible for yourself, so be prepared:
- With knowledge and gear. Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.
- To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.
- To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.
- To turn back. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike.
- For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.
- To share the hiker code with others.
STAY SAFE AROUND THE WATER
In addition to the Atlantic Ocean, Plymouth alone has more than 300 ponds, and Plymouth County has more than 75 additional pond and lakes to enjoy.
Taking safety precautions as either a swimmer or boater is important. The Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services has great information on drowning, keeping children safe in and around water, and boating safety. Here are some basic precautions to take:
- Make sure you know how to swim. If you can’t swim, keep to shallow areas or use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. For a list of places offering swim lessons, go to www.mass.gov/dph/swimsafety.
- Swim with a buddy, never alone, even if you are a very good swimmer.
- Swim in designated areas, with a lifeguard present
- Swim sober: Avoid drugs and alcohol to stay alert in the water
- Do not dive or jump into water that is not at least 12 feet deep. Enter the water feet first, never dive head first into a river, lake or pond. You could severely injure your head and neck, and drown.
- Do not swim during a storm or when there is lightning.
- Don’t swim in an area with strong moving currents in the water. Depth, currents, underwater debris and water temperature change constantly in rivers, lakes and ponds. Yesterday’s safe swimming spot might have hidden dangers today.
- Keep a cellphone handy and know where you are in case you need to call for help
- When in a boat, wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
WE’RE FRIENDLY TOWARD DOGS
Dogs in Plymouth are to be leashed at all times when out in public with their owner/guardian. With a few exceptions, most outdoor venues allow dogs that are leashed, although it is recommended to call or email the venue before you arrive to confirm. For additional information on dog-friendly destinations, please see the following websites: