As promised, here is the first of a two part series discussing the Tread Lightly principles… to be honest when we first starting heading out to explore the great outdoors I had never heard of the Tread Lightly principles and when I finally did hear about them I didn’t pay much attention. For the most part we tried to be conscientious when we were outdoors but some of the things we learned just from being out there. Now as more and more people are heading outside for the first time to enjoy their National Parks and backcountry there is a greater need than ever for all of us to be aware of and follow these simple guidelines so that all of us can enjoy the natural beauty and majesty of the outdoors. The Tread Lightly principles help us to minimize our impact to the environment and teach responsible outdoor etiquette. For more information please go to www.treadlightly.org to learn more tips or how you can be more involved in stewardship projects.
Travel Responsibly by staying on designated roads and trails. If possible, go over obstacles instead of going around and widening the trail. Cross streams only at designated areas and minimize splashing and stirring up sediments. When possible, avoid wet or muddy trails to reduce erosion and rutting. When on water, stay on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.
Respect the Rights of Others including private property owners, recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. While on designated trails or roads, leave gates open or closed as you found them. Yield right of way to those passing you or going uphill and understand trail sharing etiquette. When on water, respect anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and those on or near the shore.
Educate Yourself prior to your trip by obtaining maps of the area and get to know the restrictions and regulations from public agencies for where you are going. Plan for your trip by taking recreational skills classes, checking the weather forecast and familiarize yourself with your equipment and how to operate it safely.
Avoid Sensitive Areas such as meadows, lake shores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes to protect yourself and wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage. Do not disturb historical or archeological sites. When on water, avoid operating your watercraft in shallow water or near shorelines at high speeds.
Do Your Part by modeling responsible behavior by leaving the area better than you found it. You can do this by properly disposing of waste and trash, minimize the use of open fires, avoid the spread of invasive plants and animals and avoiding damage to sensitive areas.
The next part of this series will cover some specifics for applying Tread Lightly principles while camping. Thanks for reading and remember to find your adventure where ever you may wander!