Leave No Trace In The News

KANAB, UTAH-- The Joes started the year in Southern Utah, which seemed like another planet compared to our Midwestern roots. Slot canyons are wild, y’all! 

Buckskin Gulch

Immediately after hiking part of Buckskin Gulch, we stopped at a Kanab coffeeshop, picked up a copy of The Southern Utah Independent, and saw a story that caught our eyes. Local land managers had imposed fees on a similar slot canyon just 50 miles northwest. Why? Human waste!

According to the SU Independent, Kanarra Falls Canyon has seen a significant uptick in users with an equivalent increase in impacts, especially human waste and trailside debris. With more than 40,000 visitors a year, incremental effects at Kanarra Falls threatened not just the regional water supply, but the canyon’s fragile ecosystem too.

Daily user fees are a small price to protect our public lands. Funds install pit toilets at the trailhead and increase educational outreach to trail visitors, which can prevent further impacts and avoid future rescue operations. Most of these effects, though, could be avoided through Leave No Trace.

Keep a few things in mind next time you’re hiking a slot canyon, especially if there aren’t user fees in place.

Buckskin Gulch 2.JPGPlan ahead and prepare: Read up on the area and avoid flash flood conditions.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Minimize your impact on the canyon by staying on the trail.

Dispose of waste properly: Check to see if dogs are allowed, and be sure to remove all human and animal waste (digging a cathole 200 feet from the trail is all but impossible in a canyon setting).

Enjoy your world! Don’t let a fee keep you from exploring Southern Utah, but know that it’s a team effort to keep these places spectacular.

Click here to read the original story from Southern Utah Independent.
Click here to visit Kanarra Falls Canyon.

Leave No Trace's Joe Besl and Joe Creaghead are part of the 2018 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, and Klean Kanteen.

Boulder, Colorado: Citizen science is a popular movement that allows people from all walks of life to help advance scientific research by collecting and sharing data. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recently announced a new citizen science pilot project, scheduled for this summer. A grant from the U.S. Forest Service will help fund the project in Colorado’s White River National Forest.

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The Conundrum Hot Springs area, near Aspen, Colorado, will be one of the focus areas for Leave No Trace's citizen science monitoring pilot project this summer.  

“I’m very excited about expanding Leave No Trace’s citizen science program,” said Dana Watts, the Center’s executive director. “There is huge potential to take the experience we gain this summer and create a platform that will allow communities across the country to play an active role in monitoring the health of all kinds of natural areas.”

Lauren Atkinson, a graduate student in the Masters of Environmental Management program at Western State Colorado University, will lead the pilot project fieldwork. Atkinson has educated thousands of visitors and engaged hundreds of students in science learning, working in places like the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Corridor in the White Mountain National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, Arches National Park and as a mountain bike guide in Moab, Utah. She helped launch the Appalachian Mountain Club’s citizen science program, Mountain Watch.

Atkinson will work closely with Katy Nelson, Wilderness and Trails Program Coordinator in the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, to design a monitoring program that provides relevant information for the agency’s staff, and engages people in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley to participate in the effort.

“Monitoring natural areas through citizen science gives individuals and communities the opportunity to expand their stewardship of places that they care about deeply,” said Watts. “Our program will engage people of all ages, including school-aged kids, scouting groups and the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. The Center has strong connections with the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, summer camps and many other institutions that will be eager to dig into this exciting field.”

Citizen science also offers opportunities for the Center to support the goals of STEM and STEAM education. Partners like the National Environmental Education Foundation and Student Conservation Association and others have expressed strong interest in future involvement with Leave No Trace’s citizen science monitoring program. 

Throughout the summer-long pilot project, the Center will consult with an advisory panel to help plan the next stages and the broad expansion of its citizen science efforts. Advisory panel members include:

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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share one of our staff’s best “Leave No Trace Cringe Date” stories — enjoy!

“Just prior to our first date, she texts to say she is running late. Thirty minutes later, she arrives for dinner and launches into a lengthy apology, explaining she was out hiking with friends and their dogs were off leash. They were ticketed by a ranger, and the ranger would not stop explaining why the dogs were not allowed off leash in that area. Thus it was the ranger’s fault she was late.

Without missing a beat, she then continued “… so what do you do for work?” WOOPS!

— Kurt Achtenhagen, Chief Financial Officer




We’re excited to be recognized as Nonprofit of the Year, alongside many other incredible people and organizations, at the Outdoor Inspiration Awards. READ MORE




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Are you suffering from undiagnosed Fear of Packing Out, or FOPO? Watch this video to find out some possible cures and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips & tricks. WATCH VIDEO




How will Leave No Trace evolve to include social media guidance? Read more to find out and let us know what you think! READ MORE



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The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers are conducting events in almost every state of the nation this year. Below are a few of their workshops in the next months.

Boulder, CO: Sure, 2017 may be remembered as the year that “fake news” entered the popular vocabulary, but journalism isn’t dead yet. The five news items below surely rank among the feel-good Leave No Trace stories of the year. 


Illustration by Michael Byers for 5280 magazine. 

Are We Loving Colorado's Wild Places to Death?
Published by 5280 magazine, this feature story includes great illustrations, photography and an in-depth look at Leave No Trace's efforts in Colorado's high country—including the Center's 2017 Hot Spots work at Conundrum Hot Springs. 

A Tranquil Swimming Hole is Overwhelmed by Its Own Internet Fame 
The Old Grey Lady (New York Times) offered this account of the Traveling Trainers and a successful Hot Spots campaign in the Catskills region of Upstate New York. 

Is Instagram Ruining the Great Outdoors? 
This story, published by Outside magazine, addresses the issue of social media popularizing outdoor areas, sometimes in irresponsible ways. It also points out the need for educating people about Leave No Trace and quotes the Center's staff. 

Colorado Tourism Office Cements Partnership with Sustainability Group 
Denver Business Journal covered the Center's first-of-its-kind partnership with the Colorado Tourism Office to help build a statewide Leave No Trace program for visitors and residents who take advantage of Colorado’s rich recreational resources.

Does Your Phone Help, or Hurt Your Relationship, with Nature?  
Continuing the theme of social media affecting how we interact with the natural world, this story appeared in a supplement to USA Today, helping spread the Leave No Trace message to millions of readers. 

Aurora, CO (Oct. 16, 2017) ─ In a joint news conference this week with Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics announced an innovative partnership aimed at encouraging the state’s 82 million visitors to travel like locals and be active stewards of Colorado’s precious natural resources.

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Image: The Colorado Tourism Office's Cathy Ritter (left) and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Executive Director Dana Watts. 

The event inspired coverage in the Colorado Business Journal and other regional news outlets. 

The state partnership is a first for the national the Leave No Trace Center, which counts the primary federal public land agencies as well as Subaru and many major U.S. outdoor retailer among its strategic partners.

“This is a significant step forward in our state’s quest to identify and then address threats to what makes Colorado such an extraordinary place to live, visit and work,” said Lynne, who joined representatives of the CTO and the Leave No Trace Center at a news conference and then a volunteer cleanup of Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora. Cherry Creek’s 2 million-plus visitors a year makes it both the most-visited and most-impacted of Colorado’s 41 state parks.

The CTO and Leave No Trace have outlined their new relationship in a six-page memorandum of understanding intended as a model for other states as well. An accompanying task agreement describes plans for collaborations with at least three tourism industry sectors to create best practices for travelers. The two organizations also will collaborate on messaging, research and a statewide public lands cleanup project in the coming year.

“This new relationship, at its core, is a response to the heartfelt concerns many Coloradans express about the impacts of visitation on the places they love,” said CTO Director Cathy Ritter. “By sharing the Leave No Trace Seven Principles in compelling ways, we can inspire and empower visitors and locals to leave our state better than they found it.”

Dana Watts, executive director of the nonprofit Leave No Trace Center, said her board of directors sees much potential for expanding the reach of its iconic messaging through new state partnerships.

“Since our founding in 1994, we’ve magnified our message primarily through strategic alliances with organizations that share our passion and commitment,” Watts said. “This new partnership with the CTO holds huge potential for influencing many millions of people. Safeguarding natural resources is extremely important in a state like Colorado, where 37 percent of lands are federally owned and another 5 percent are in state hands.”

The partnership is the latest initiative to come from the Colorado Tourism Roadmap, a three- to five-year strategic plan to build the Colorado tourism industry’s competitive advantage. Early thinking about the partnership stemmed from concerns expressed by tourism stakeholders, elected leaders and residents in 20-plus listening sessions around the state.

“The outdoor recreation industry for years has desired a deeper connection with the tourism industry,” said Luis Benitez, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. “This new relationship between CTO and Leave No Trace clearly shows the commitment of Colorado tourism toward protecting the natural resources that drive our state’s $23 billion outdoor recreation economy. Once again, Colorado is leading the way through an innovative approach to creating partnerships across industry sectors.”

New Paltz, NY: The Peekamoose Blue Hole has become an Internet celebrity. Now selected, as a 2017 Leave No Trace Hot Spot, the Blue Hole needs a new type of fame, one that recognizes its fragile ecology. This geologic formation is wild in nature and unfortunately; its fame has exponentially increased the number of visitors and the impacts, which follow them.

With anywhere from 600-2000 visitors in a weekend the ¾ acre footprint of the Blue Hole has seen its fair share of impacts. Soil erosion, trampled vegetation (including small plants, flowers, and primarily mosses), litter, food waste, human waste, pet waste, loud music, social trails, and wildlife impacts (bears), make up the primary impacts of concern for this area.

You can help protect wild gems like the Blue Hole by getting involved with Hot Spot efforts near you, participating in community cleanups, and educating yourself about Leave No Trace practices. Together, we can work hard to protect the places we love all across the country.

Take a look at more great information about the Peekamoose Blue Hole Hot Spot. If you would like to learn more about the Hot Spot program and to see if one is coming to your area in 2018, follow this link.

Enjoy your world & Leave No Trace,


Steph & Andy

Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Team East

Leave No Trace's Stephanie Whatton and Andy Mossey are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Klean Kanteen, Smartwool, and Taxa Outdoors.

Boulder, Colorado: Are you ready for the 2017 Solar Eclipse Across America? Check out our video and blog below for tips on preparing for this historic event! 

1. Know before you go: With over seven million people traveling to see the eclipse, you're sure to find lots of traffic, and little to no cell phone service, food, or other supplies available in the path of totality. Make sure you bring everything you'll need for a five to six day trip, since most agencies anticipate that roads in and out of the eclipse zone will be gridlocked at least two days before and after the eclipse. Bring all the information you'll need in a reliable (paper) format. 

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2. Water: You need this to survive, and there's no guarantee that you'll have a safe supply when you get to where you're going.

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3. Food: Most stores will sell out of staples before the eclipse occurs, and with traffic backed up, there's no telling when they'll get a resupply.

4. Stove and fuel: Much of the eclipse path is through high-risk fire areas, and there are campfire bans in effect in many states. A camp stove and extra fuel will keep you well fed and help protect the area you're visiting. 

5. Clothes for all weather: It's likely that you'll see hot sun, rain, and cold nights during your stay, so remember to pack for all possibilities. 

6. Shelter: Many eclipse viewers are planning to camp; bring a reliable tent, and make sure that you set up on a durable surface in a designated campground.

7. Trash bags: Don't add your litter to the pile. Plan to bring your trash and recycling home with you. You can reduce your trash by repackaging your food at home before you hit the road. 

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8. Human waste bags: There probably won't be enough portable bathrooms for everyone, so it's not a bad idea to bring some of these along. Remember to pack out your waste. 


9. First aid and extra medicine: Don't be an unnecessary burden to local EMS and hospitals - have the meds and first aid supplies you'll need with you before you leave for the eclipse. 

10. Solar viewing glasses: If you want to view the next eclipse in North America, in the year 2024, you'll need your sight, so make sure to view the eclipse from behind solar viewing glasses. 

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Have a safe and enjoyable solar eclipse!

Enjoy Your World. Leave No Trace.

Jessie and Matt, Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers Team West

Leave No Trace's Jessie Johnson and Matt Schneider are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and Smartwool.




Boulder, Colorado: From its chiseled, thru-hiking calves to its swollen rock-climbing forearms, the U.S. outdoor industry has been flexing its muscles lately. According to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), a trade organization in Boulder, Colorado, American consumers now spend more on outdoor recreation ($887 billion) than they do on gasoline and fuels ($304 billion), motor vehicles and parts ($465 billion) or pharmaceuticals ($466 billion).

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OIA’s definition of “outdoor recreation” is broad, including everything from archery to scuba diving. But even the most traditional outdoor activities have become powerful economic drivers. Americans spent more on trail sports gear ($20 billion) than they did on home entertainment ($18 billion) last year, according to the OIA data.

The newfound brawniness of the outdoor economy also carries political implications. This summer, media outlets like the New York Times and Associated Press closely covered the move of the Outdoor Retailer trade show—one of the outdoor industry’s biggest events—from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Denver, Colorado. Many industry leaders pinned their support for the move on the perception that Colorado’s public lands policies are more focused on conservation and recreation than in Utah, where extraction and development are sometimes favored.

In both economic and political terms, outdoor recreation is no shrinking violet. Even more growth seems inevitable—American national parks broke the previous year’s visitation record in 2016, hosting 331 million visits, while state parks hosted more than double that number with at least 730 million annual visits.

Outdoor enthusiasts are sometimes tempted to blame the degradation of natural resources solely on industrial pollution or large-scale land development, but in truth the collective impacts of human recreation are substantial. As the OIA data reveals, the outdoor industry has become a major economic driver—and there’s no such thing as an industry worth $887 billion that does not impact that natural world. Some of that impact derives from manufacturing and shipping recreation equipment, but it also comes from the activities themselves, which often occur in pristine and sensitive environments.

The non-profit Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is firmly in favor of expanding opportunities for people to experience natural areas and enjoy recreational opportunities. For nearly two decades, the organization’s mission has been to protect the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly.
Dana Watts, the Center’s Executive Director, says “Most people want to be low-impact, but they don’t always have the skills they need. When recreational visitors are exposed to Leave No Trace they see how easy it is to help protect our shared recreational resources.” Watts adds that Leave No Trace is not an all-or-nothing proposition. “Even a simple thing, like teaching people why it's important to pack out their orange peels and other food waste instead of tossing them into the woods, can have a big effect over time.”

Last year, the Center reached more than 15.5 million people, helping them understand how to take simple steps that lessen their impacts. As the size and force of the outdoor economy grows—with annual participation now measured in the hundreds of millions—so does the need to expand efforts to protect the natural environments that support its growth. Leave No Trace is poised to play a key role in this effort. 

— Mark Eller is the Foundations Director at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. 

Boulder, CO: Rita Hussman vividly recalls the day she received a call from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics letting her know that she had been chosen to be the new Minnesota State Advocate — she was in the middle of teaching a Leave No Trace workshop to children at Metropolitan State University. It's that kind of constant dedication that helped her recently earn the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

“I don’t think of what I do as volunteering because it's so critical,” Rita said of her Leave No Trace volunteer experience. “There is no question that, now more than ever before, all people need to be aware of the impact we have on our environment.”
The award, “recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role model Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers.” Hussman received a gold-level honor, which means she has volunteered over 500 hours of her time in the past year. It's the highest honor in this category other than the Lifetime Achievement award.
Hussman has volunteered with Leave No Trace since 2006, working for more than a decade to promote outdoor ethics as State Advocate and leader of the Minnesota Chapter of Leave No Trace. She plans to continue her efforts to teach Leave No Trace and contribute to the state's thriving recreation scene. 

Boulder, CO:  The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics protects the outdoors by teaching people to enjoy it responsibly. It is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands. Through targeted education, research and outreach, the Center ensures the long-term health of our natural world.

One way we reach the public is through the creative freedom of our Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer program consists of four teams of two educators that travel across the country in Subarus teaching people how to protect and enjoy the outdoors responsibly. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers offer programs to the general public, volunteers, youth, nonprofit organizations, friend groups, governmental agencies, and more on Leave No Trace skills and techniques intended to reduce the impact of outdoor activities in communities around the United States. The Traveling Trainers do all of this while traveling and living out of their Subaru, camping over 250 nights a year! In 2015 alone, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers will reach 15 million Americans.

This video was written, produced and directed by Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers Team East Central 2016/17.


If you want to sing along or share the Leave No Trace Seven Principles in a rap here are the lyrics:

Pack it in, Pack it Out. No Need to shout.

We got 7 principles to talk about.

The first when you care, is Plan and Prepare.

When in the outdoors be safe and aware.

The second preserves our natural resources.

So travel and camp on Durable Surfaces.

The third gets ignored until it's in your face.

Please make sure to dispose of your waste. 

Number 4 is a core, for when you explore.

Just leave what you find I have to implore.

5 keeps you alive, but in this syntax.

Minimize campfire impacts.

Protect wildlife and keep your distance.

If you don't then this beauty you may not witness.

Last but not least be considerate of others.

This is Leave No Trace.

Word to your mothers. 


Travel Well,

Amanda and Greg - Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Team East Central

Leave No Trace’s Amanda Neiman and Greg Smith are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Fjall Raven, ENO, Deuter, Thule, Taxa Outdoors and SmartWool.