When you think of the Berkshires, fall foliage is probably at the top of most lists. That also means that it's time to bust out the flannels or Champion sweatshirts and get to raking those countless leaves in your yards.

At least, that's what we thought we were supposed to do.

Officials from the National Wildlife Federation are urging people to not rake their leaves this year. Besides creating piles for horseplay, which I still love to dive into at 35-years-old, the NWF states seven reasons why you shouldn't rake those bad boys up.

1. It's Unnatural

According to the National Wildlife Federation, leaving leaves where they fall is actually it's own mini ecosystem.

2. Wildlife Habitat

"Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food and other habitat, including salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, many insects species," according to the NWF.

3. Fallen Leaves Create a 'Double Benefit'

Leaves form a natural mulch -- which can help eliminate weeds -- and at the same time, they can fertilize the soil.

"Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own," asks the National Wildlife Federation

4. Reduce Waste

NWF officials say that if you must rake your leaves, don't throw them in the trash. Compost or recycle those colorful, crunchy leaves for potential later use.

"They can be turned into compost that you and other members of your community can use in the spring. Some communities even offer curb side pick up of leaves specifically for municipal composting operations."

5. Nature -- More Specifically, Butterflies and Birds

Many species of moths and butterflies use the larvae attached to fallen leaves. If you rake and throw away the leaves, you'll be throwing away these insects as well.

"Remember, butterfly and moth caterpillars are a critically important food source for birds in the spring when they are feeding their babies. If you remove of all the pupae with your leaves in the fall, there will be fewer of these insects in and around your yard in in spring," says the NWF.

6. Reduce Pollution

The NWF is urging folks to stay away from leaf blowers this fall to reduce air and noise pollution. If you want to tidy up your yard, rake the leaves off the lawn and in your planting beds for that natural mulch look.

7. Enjoy the Fall

If you have to rake the leaves, that's time out of your day that you can't enjoy the fall weather -- whenever it consistently wants to come our way, I'll be ready.

There you have it. Wildlife officials are telling you not to rake your leaves this fall. Your move Berkshire County.


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