Desert Messenger

March 20, 2019

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March 20, 2019 31 Busting popular Leave No Trace myths MYTH: ORANGE PEELS (OR SEED SHELLS, BANANA PEELS, FRUIT PITS, ETC.) DECOMPOSE AND ARE NATURAL, SO I DON'T NEED TO PACK THEM OUT. Actually, depending on the environ- ment, it can take an orange peel up to six months to decompose. For a banana peel, it could take up to two years. The thing is, even though these things decompose more quickly than materials like plastic or glass, they still stick around for a while. And in a popular area that sees dozens of visitors per day, even a handful of people leaving behind food waste can add up to a big pile of decomposing garbage. MYTH: TOILET PAPER DECOM- POSES QUICKLY, SO I CAN JUST LEAVE IT UNDER A ROCK. According to this horsepacking group, it takes toilet paper any- where from two to fi ve months to dissolve. Not quite as quick as you'd think. Besides, regardless of wheth- er toilet paper decomposes quickly or not, leaving it around is just plain gross. No one wants to turn over a rock and fi nd used toilet paper. So, just like for everything else—pack it in, pack it out. MYTH: I DON'T NEED TO PICK UP MY DOG'S POOP—IT'S THE SAME AS OTHER WILDLIFE. This myth surprised us—that dog poop is actually different than that of other animals. Here's what the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website has to say about that: "Dog feces contains high levels of nitrogen not found in wildlife feces because dog food is chemically-en- gineered." Depending on where you are, many plants thrive in low-ni- trogen soil, and the presence of a lot of dog feces could in fact affect the area's soil composition—and the ability of native plants to thrive. MYTH: GOING OFF-TRAIL ISN'T A BIG DEAL. Sure, it's no big deal if just one person goes off trail. Shortcuts are tempting, especially when you're tired. Or if there's a stunning wild- fl ower that you want to photograph. But trails are built to concentrate impact and manage erosion, among other purposes, and going off trail counteracts those goals. Plus, see- ing your footprints or trampled grass for those who follow can send the signal that it's ok to leave the trail and lead to even more people following your new path. So, be the leader we know you are, and stick to the trail, even if it's muddy! National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) • Birth • Obituary • Anniversary P lace it FREE in the : Desert Messenger! 928-916-4235 Got something to share? Tax Season Tips to Avoid Scammers and Robocalls (StatePoint) It's tax season. The time of year when phone scammers get particularly aggressive trying to trick you out of your hard-earned money. And scam calls and robo- calls are a growing problem for ev- eryone. Here are a few tricks to help you dodge scammers and give you peace of mind. Know the Signs Scam call technology is always changing, so it's important to stay vigilant against scammers' at- tempts to get you to answer your phone. Every year, they make mil- lions off innocent victims with new techniques. Their latest method, known as number-spoofi ng tech- nology, could fool even the savvi- est consumers into answering the phone. Number-spoofi ng makes a scammer's number appear as either a familiar number with a local area code or even come up on Caller ID as the "IRS." If you don't answer, they may also leave "urgent" call- back voicemails via robocalls. Rec- ognizing these tactics can help you stay safe. If you suspect a call (or a voicemail) is a scam, hang up. If you want to be sure, don't call back the number provided but instead, look up your local IRS Customer Service number on the Internet and call the IRS directly. Use Protection Tools Check out what technology your wireless company offers that can protect you from scam and spoof calls. For example, T-Mobile offers free scam and spoofi ng protection for customers with Scam ID and Scam Block. These tools are made available to all postpaid customers and live on the T-Mobile network, so no app is required. As soon as a call reaches the network, it's analyzed and if it's scam, the incoming call is tagged as Scam Likely. If customers want to stop scam calls completely, Tax season tips they can turn on Scam Block. With these tools in place, in the last two years, T-Mobile has alerted custom- ers to over 10 billion Scam Likely calls. And in 2019, T-Mobile reports warning customers of 225 million Scam Likely calls each week. Oth- ers wireless providers usually also offer customers app solutions to help identify scam calls for a small monthly fee. Check with your pro- vider to see what is available. New standards from the Federal Communications Commission, called STIR/SHAKEN, are also helping protect consumers. T- Mobile's implementation of STIR/ SHAKEN, Caller Verifi ed, lets you know when a call made on the T- Mobile network is authentic and not intercepted by scammers and spam- mers. Once other wireless providers implement STIR/SHAKEN, Caller Verifi ed will work on calls made across networks. Know Your Rights While scam-blocking technology can help you fi lter out scam and spoof calls, it's also important to know your rights. Many of these calls use intimidation tactics to scare con- sumers into divulging sensitive in- formation over the phone. The IRS website notes that they will always make attempts to reach you via postal mail fi rst and they will never ask you for a specifi c form of pay- ment. You should know that you al- ways have the right to formally con- test the amount owed, and the IRS will not make threats against you or your family regarding arrest or de- portation. If you have any elderly or susceptible family members, talk to them about how to avoid such scams and consider setting them up with the latest technology to help them stay safe. This tax season, be wary about the calls that you receive. With up-to- date information and new technolo- gy, you can protect your pocketbook from scammers. Read Desert MESSENGER E-edition online @

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