Richard Louv writes online about how to end "nature deficit disorder," a syndrome he describes in two books, "Last Child in the Woods" and "The Nature Principle." He insists human beings, especially children, actually suffer symptoms from disassociation with nature. He cites evidence linking NDD to attention disorders, depression and obesity, and worries that if children have less contact with nature now, fewer people will care about the health and well-being of the earth in the future.

George Farnsworth, a friend of mine who shares Louv's concern, recently sent me a link to Louv's blog on his idea for a nature stimulus package. Louv offered several simple ideas to treat the NDD epidemic.

Louv notes families are rediscovering both cost-effectiveness of "getaways in nearby nature." Destinations include regional, state or national parks. He quotes Outside magazine, saying "near is the new far."

In what may be sacrilege on Christmas Day, he points to toys found in nature, such as sticks. They're free or inexpensive and encourage imagination and creativity. Green exercise, such as working in a garden or hiking, also is free, and may be better at improving overall physical health for the same investment of energy as working out in a gym.

Planting trees and preserving open space improves energy efficiency, reduces the carbon footprint and helps property values. Backyard and community gardens improve nutrition and reduce shipping costs.

Some countries require kids to spend time outside at school everyday. The result is fewer colds and flu cases, Louv said.

Playing outside brings families, neighborhoods and communities closer together.

Louv sees progress. He cites more than 90 regional and statewide campaigns to get kids outside since his first book was published in 2005.

"Future generations should have the right to a walk in the woods, and so should we. The investment in the children and nature movement won't put our grandkids in debt. And, especially in a recession, the dividends will be priceless," Louv wrote.

With New Year's Day one week away, the timing is good to make a resolution to do your part to stem nature deficit disorder. What are your plans for 2012?

Hunting permits

Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only deer county permits and for the Chronic Wasting Disease management Deer Season are available over the counter through DNR direct license and permit vendors. The seven-day Late-Winter and CWD deer seasons are Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 and Jan. 13 to 15. Get information sheets, including a list of open counties and public land open sites, at www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/Late-WinterSHAHuntingPermitInformation.pdf and www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Documents/LateWinterSitesOpen.pdf.

Scott Richardson is Pantagraph outdoor editor. Contact him at 309-820-3227 or email srichardson@pantagraph.com. Share stories and read past outdoor and fishing columns at www.pantagraph.com/blogs.

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