Courier August/September Courier - Page 16

BUSINESS BY SUSAN ALKAITIS, LEAVE NO TRACE CENTER FOR OUTDOOR ETHICS Hiking in Colorado’s White River National Forest 12 August/September 2018 DESPITE THE LONG, steep hike to reach it, Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado’s White River National Forest had over 6,000 visitors last year. But due to its popularity, this high alpine area’s delicate tundra ecosystem began facing serious impacts: Bears trolled the area for food, human waste lay exposed, plants were trampled and user conflicts were on the rise. Also, 11,200-foot Conundrum Hot Springs had gained a reputation as a beautiful outdoor place to party. The overcrowding, alcohol abuse, illegal fires, litter and out-of-bounds camping were taking a toll on the area, leading the U.S. Forest Service to enlist the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for help. Leave No Trace is an international movement, nonprofit organization and education program dedicated to protect- ing the outdoors by teaching people to enjoy it responsibly. The organization delivers cutting-edge education and research to millions of people across the country every year. Through one of its key programs, Hot Spots, the center is able to provide a spectrum of Leave No Trace solutions for troubled natural areas across the country. The Hot Spots program identifies areas that are suffering from the severe impacts of outdoor activities but can thrive again by following Leave No Trace solutions. Each location receives a unique blend of education programs, service projects and follow-up activities. With site-specific Leave No Trace tools in place, these areas can get on the road to a healthy and sustainable recovery. To date, the Leave No Trace Center has conducted more than 60 Hot Spots programs around the country. The areas range from national to city parks and are chosen from hundreds of nomi- nees. Last year, the center supported 20 areas with 163 educational sessions and related events, removing 2.5 tons of trash and enlisting 1,800 volunteers to support the work. Innovative work helps struggling natural areas