Nature enthusiasts will have their eyes on the ground this summer.

On April 1, officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced a new plan — the Adirondack Scat Challenge — to inspire more people to get outside and experience nature.

According to DEC Commissioner of Challenges Dirk Dingleberry, the challenge will begin this summer, which he said will forever go down as the season of excretion.

"We want what's inside — in this case, people — to exit the backdoor and become one with the outdoors," Dingleberry said. "There's a world of wonder just waiting beneath your shoes."

A scat chart is essential in the Adirondack Scat Challenge.

A scat chart is essential in the Adirondack Scat Challenge.

Dingleberry is responsible for a bevy of Adirondack challenges, including the Adirondack Lean-to Challenge, the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge, the Adirondack Bear Bait Challenge, and the Adirondack Thin Ice Challenge. He said the challenges challenge those who need to be challenged in a challenging way that challenges nature-challenged New Yorkers who otherwise wouldn't be challenged.

"It's challenging to develop so many challenges," Dingleberry said.

Those who wish to participate in the Scat Challenge can order a scat finder kit off of the DEC's website. The kit includes a full-color scat reference guide, a scat checklist, and scat sample bags that look like diapers. To earn the Adirondack Feces Finder patch, simply fill out the checklist and mail it, along with samples of each scat pile, to the DEC.

The Adirondack Scat Challenge promises to be an exciting endeavor for anyone who gets involved.

The Adirondack Scat Challenge promises to be an exciting endeavor for anyone who gets involved.

To sweeten the contest, the DEC has also hidden the key to a brand new minivan in a scat pile that's located somewhere in the mountains. A series of riddles on the DEC website will yield clues to the pile's whereabouts.

If the summer challenge goes well, Dingleberry said a Winter Scat Challenge will be announced this fall.

Sledge Ramone, a scatologist with the Adirondack Mountain Club, praised the new challenge, saying it will get people to appreciate an oft-ignored and much-maligned aspect of the wilderness. Hopefully, he added, it will also make his profession seem more appealing to the opposite sex.

"It gets lonely out there, crawling around on the ground looking at piles of dung," Ramone said. "At the end of the day, it takes everything I've got not to dump my workload on someone else and pick another profession."

Fifty species are represented on the bloated checklist, including black fly, moose, vegan, hobo, and yeti.

Vegan scat is characterized by an abundance of granola, berries, and nuts.

Vegan scat is characterized by an abundance of granola, berries, and nuts.

"Some of these will be easy to find if you know where to look, while others require a much keener eye," Ramone said. "I'd start by sniffing out the more common species, like black fly. Once you get a feel for scat, there's no going back. Seriously. I'm miserable."

Ramone suggested looking close to your home, and then branching out from there. Feces can turn up anywhere, he said, so the best advice for novice scat seekers is to "keep your eyes on the ground and follow your nose."

Asked if he'll be participating in the Scat Challenge, Ramone said there's nothing on this earth short of a social life that could keep him away from it.

"Every day of my life is a scat challenge," Ramone said. "You better believe I'll be out there."*


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*The preceding story is fabricated in celebration of April Fools day, popular for the commission of good-humored practical jokes of varying sophistication.

01
Apr
2016
Author: Shaun Kittle
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