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We would like to wish all of our readers a happy New Year! This is the time of year when many people resolve to make changes in themselves. Some may choose to eat healthier or spend more time with family, all in the name of starting fresh at the dawn of the new year. We hope that we can inspire some of you to make resolutions that will also help our local ecosystems. Here are a few simple changes that you can make this year to help wild animals and plants in your area:

1. Properly dispose of trash. On a recent hike through Malibu Creek State Park, it was astounding to see how much garbage there was. Candy wrappers, soda cans, even a whole plastic bag filled with garbage, all left there by humans to pollute the homes of our wild neighbors. It is important to always make sure your trash ends up in a garbage bin. Animals can be attracted to the scent of leftover food, and sometimes cannot tell the difference between what is safe to eat, and what may cause them harm. Curious animals in the wild could choke or poison themselves if they come in contact with human trash. Please remember when you go exploring in the wilderness, it is smart to pack a lunch or a snack, but it is also smart to take the wrappers and trash with you when you leave.

2. Recycle. Recycling is much simpler than most people think. Many things that we use every day like paper, plastic water bottles, aluminum cans, and grocery bags can be recycled, or used again. It can be as simple as throwing your recyclables into a separate bin. To view a list of recyclable materials, and how to dispose of them, go to http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/recycle/ . Another important part of recycling is buying products made from recycled materials. Did you know you could buy a toothbrush made from recycled yogurt cups? Or a bicycle made from recycled soda cans? When you buy items made from these materials, your money encourages the manufacturers to keep making those items, and keep recycling!

3. Go exploring. Some of us don’t realize it, but we live right in the middle of some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. You probably don’t have to travel far to find a local park, hiking trail, beach or forest. All of these are ecosystems that we can visit and learn to appreciate. The only resolution you need to make is to go outside. Go outside and look around. What do you see? How many animals can you count? What kind of tree is that? When we explore the world around us, we gain appreciation for the plants and animals with which we share a home. Just remember, when you go exploring, always be safe. You can find some tips on how to stay safe and responsible at http://www.hikesafe.com/ .

We hope that you will make resolutions this year that will help promote healthy and balanced ecosystems around you. These tips are small changes that can make a big difference. Let your friends and neighbors know what you are doing this year to change the world around you.

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