Friday, February 24, 2012

Beyond "Pack it In, Pack it Out"

By Sarah Gruen, Recreation Resources Intern

You likely have heard the phrase “pack it in/pack it out” or “take only pictures, leave only footprints” and maybe you have even heard the slogan “Leave No Trace.” These expressions are all related to a movement of higher consciousness for recreationists who want to enjoy a quality experience outdoors while preserving the natural resources that support their activities. Chances are, if you spend time exploring the land on foot, kayak, mountain bike, snowshoes or other mode of travel, you have noticed the often-significant social and environmental impacts of careless recreation: toilet paper flowers, trampled alpine meadows, aggressive camp jays, eroded switch backs and more.

The popularity of backcountry recreation extends human impacts into our most pristine wilderness destinations. The resulting environmental damage is not a result of malice; the perpetrators are often people who both value and enjoy natural areas but lack the knowledge and the skill set to be responsible stewards. The Mountaineers is launching a Backcountry Impacts Skill Clinics Series for our courses based on Leave No Trace curriculum to help spread awareness about how to guide low impact decision making for specific outdoor activities and environments. Our series includes curriculum specific to climbing and scrambling, winter recreation, hiking and backpacking and sea kayaking. Contact Sarah Krueger, Public Lands Programs Manager, for more information on bringing the Backcountry Impact Series to your group or course.

So what does “Leave No Trace” really mean? It refers to a set of seven principles that are the product of a partnership between national public land management agencies, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to help promote a cohesive national guidance on responsible recreation practices. It is a set of ethics that provides a structure for refining personal attitudes about what are appropriate actions in wild places.

Still not sure what “Leave No Trace” really means? What it doesn’t mean is memorizing a strict set of rules. It means taking the following principles into consideration:

Want to learn more about “Leave No Trace?” Come to our Leave No Trace Trainer Course in the foothills of Mt. Rainier on April 21 and 22. More info.

How do you practice “Leave No Trace?” We would love to hear some of your personal stories: what judgment calls have you made while recreating? What areas in Washington have been heavily affected by user impacts? What are these impacts?

1 comment:

Kim Brown said...

I visted Minotaur Lake once, and was very disappointed at what heavy use did to the shoreline there. Tree limbs hacked off trees, and in some cases, trees chopped down, presumably for firewood. The shoreline lacks vegetation. I thought perhaps it is old damage; much of it probably is, but people still camp there.

One thing I like to do is to use a bit of tyvek or plastic at the vestibule of my tent - that way, I don't grind up the vegetation with my multiple in-out routine.

Another thing I'm aware of is how sound carries. If I'm with someone, rather than shout across camp, I walk over to my partner to ask a question or make a comment. Even car-camping - no need to slam the vehicle doors - pull the door to, and just give it a nudge with the ole hip to click the door shut.

Thanks for the article Sarah - you rock.