Courier August/September Courier - Page 17

“The real strength of the program is that it isn’t a one-and-done cleanup project,” according to Dana Watts, Leave No Trace’s executive director. “Our researchers and expert education teams, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, are very responsive to the specific issues each area is dealing with. They construct a Leave No Trace pro- gram that directly addresses the struggles of the area, and they monitor implemen- tation to ensure recovery is in play.” At Conundrum Hot Springs, an area that in 10 years has seen a 285 percent increase in visitation, a Leave No Trace education team worked on solutions with U.S. Forest Service personnel, the public and the Forest Conservancy, a large volunteer group that supports White River National Forest. For a week last year, Leave No Trace trainers led not only workshops and trail maintenance efforts but also helped develop new mes- saging for the area. They devised custom programs for the public as well as man- agement techniques that were designed to support the health of the area while preserving the visitor experience. After the initial week of on-the- ground work, the Leave No Trace Center continued to consult with the U.S. Forest Service and will provide another session at Conundrum late this summer. Last year, the Leave No Trace Center supported 20 areas with 163 educational sessions and related events, removing 2.5 tons of trash and enlisting 1,800 volunteers … Making this work easier to accom- plish are the Leave No Trace Center’s longstanding partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, all of the major federal land management agencies, the state park system and others. In fact, the Leave No Trace Center just forged a ground- breaking partnership with the Colorado Tourism Office to work with them on imbuing Leave No Trace basic skills dur- ing trip-planning stages of the outdoor experience. The center’s staff plans to replicate the Colorado Tourism partner- ship in additional states. With 11 billion visits to public lands in the United States each year, and with nine out of 10 of people uninformed about how to conduct themselves to pro- tect the environment, Leave No Trace still has much work to do. For now, focusing on Hot Spots is a great way to make a lasting difference. Yet having more people who take it upon them- selves to learn and practice Leave No Trace skills will be the game changer for our beloved natural world. Susan Alkaitis is the deputy director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. To learn more and get involved, visit LNT.org. NTAonline.com 13