Felt-soled Boots Bad for Rivers
Apparently, not all footwear are created equal when it comes to their impact on the health of rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds.
Felt soles are very popular among those who engage in water recreations like fishing, or those who hike and love being in the great outdoors near a body of water. These shoes are popular because they provide traction on slippery stream beds covered by moss, algae, or any other kind of organic matter.
But Alaska, Vermont, and New Zealand have banned the felt-soled rubber boots used by fly fishermen. Why?
Because evidence shows that the felt carries noxious microorganisms from stream to stream. This increases the spread of all kinds of waterborne microorganisms, in particular, the spread of an invasive species such as "rock snot," otherwise known as Didymosphenia geminata.
Why is the spread of this organism problematic? It's a species of diatom that grows in warm and shallow water. When it overgrows, it can form large, dense mats on the bottom of lakes, rivers and streams. Although it is not poisonous to humans or pets, it adversely affects stream habitats and disrupts the sources of food for fish and makes recreational activities unpleasant.
Imagine having to wade through thick green goo to swim in a deeper part of a lake or pond, or, if you're an angler, to have to cast your rod way, way, way out there to get past the green muck where the fish you want to catch don't hang out.
Those who have riverfront or lakefront properties that are taken over by this invasive species might see a significant drop in their real estate value in a housing market that's already depressed by current economic circumstances.
Problem is, this microscopic algae can be spread by a single drop of water, which makes containment of it really challenging, to say the least.
Perhaps the shoe industry will come up with boots that have an equally functional "grip" on wet surfaces without using felt soles. But then, wouldn't just about any boot also spread the rock snot?
This might explain the picture above.
It might put a dent in enjoying the great outdoors if every pair of shoes needs to be "disinfected" before visitors leave a natural setting. But to those who want to continue to enjoy nature by preserving it, it's a necessary and responsible thing to do.