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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Report highlights importance of leaving autumn leaves for wildlife

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Wednesday, October 11, 2023   

While it might feel natural to rake the leaves in your yard this fall, the leaves might play a more natural role in your garden or lawn.

A new survey from the National Wildlife Federation revealed most people know leaf layers provide a home to butterflies, moths and insects which birds need to survive, and yet they continue to bag them up and send them to a landfill.

Peter Grimaldi, vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville, said leaving the leaves for a couple extra months over the winter can benefit wildlife and plants as well.

"I think you can still leave the leaves on your lawn or just mulch them up with a lawn mower," Grimaldi explained. "Then if you're kind of collecting leaves, or just simply allowing them to linger a bit in your beds, maybe wait until next spring or summer to kind of clean them out and mulch them back up."

The "Leave the Leaves" survey found more than 70% of people know fallen leaves and leaf layers are beneficial to wildlife, soil health and biodiversity. But only one in four keeps their leaves on the lawn.

Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum and has an historic mansion at the center of the campus. The front lawn of the mansion is usually leaf-free. But in other areas of the estate, the leaves are not touched or raked, so they help enhance biodiversity.

"We also have a 14-acre woodland sculpture trail, which is by far the most naturalized area on the property," Grimaldi emphasized. "We don't remove a single leaf from the sculpture trail. We just let it hit the forest floor and enter the circle of life."

David Mizejewski, naturalist for the National Wildlife Federation, said the lawn still needs to breathe, so leaving it totally covered with a few inches of leaves is too much. It is better to chop them up, and he added putting leaves in bags for disposal is not a good idea.

"Bagging them up and sending them to the landfill actually is a really bad thing," Mizejewski stressed. "It really contributes some really nasty greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that are a piece of climate change."

The survey noted around 14% of people toss 10 or more bags of leaves into the trash per year. He urged Tennesseans to share their space with a wealth of wildlife species by leaving some leaves and giving them some habitat.

Disclosure: The National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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