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Homeowners rejoice! Put away those rakes, don’t worry about blisters, and save your backs — DO NOT rake your leaves. Seriously. And, this advice comes straight from experts.

“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,” the NWF said on its website.

But if you must rake up those leaves, don’t throw them in the trash, the NWF said. “Compost them or drop them off at a municipal recycling center so they can be turned into compost that you and other members of your community can use in the spring.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyleaves and other yard debris account for more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste—a whopping 33 million tons a year.

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