I am writing to express a concern. While the growing influx of tourists here is welcome, it seems that many still do not understand the delicate ecological balance that makes this place what it is - beautiful, pristine, wild and clean. I would like to clarify a few things in hopes that we can all learn to be better stewards.

While the amount of garbage at Siskiyou Lake this year has been appalling (last week I took my visiting mother there only to find a beach site littered with used diapers), my focus on this letter is Castle Lake.

The past few years have seen increasing numbers of people visiting Castle Lake, and unfortunately, this has also meant an increasing amount of garbage and litter left there. Additionally, many of our visitors have been feeding bread and snack foods to the wild birds who make Castle Lake their summer home.

Bread, Cheetos, cheese puffs, etc, are not good for any bird, especially ducks. It harms their livers, creates an unhealthy type of fat in their bodies and means that they will not receive the adequate and natural nutrition they really require to survive. Wild ducks eat snails, worms and mollusks, small fish and fish eggs, grass and aquatic vegetation.

Additionally, feeding these snacks to wild animals makes them become reliant on them and also turns them into “picnic pests.” While it can be wonderful to watch a small flock of wild ducks float by or to have wild birds visit your picnic site, continuing this practice of feeding them or of leaving garbage behind that they may potentially ingest, will mean that eventually, they may die a horrible death and will no longer be there.

Again, we welcome all those who come to enjoy the beautiful place we call home. We simply ask that you respect and help take care of it so that all of us, your children and ours, and all future generations, can enjoy the beauty that makes this place so special. Please clean up after your pets, take your garbage with you when you leave (maybe even take a look around and see if someone else left something behind and take that too), and please don't feed the wild animals. Have a wonderful year and we’ll see you again next summer.

Dori Mondon

Mount Shasta