What is a Leave No Trace Spotlight?

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The Leave No Trace Spotlight program brings together our shared love for the outdoors with a dedication to preserving its well-being and beauty.

Spotlights are designed to energize local Leave No Trace efforts by rallying the community, connecting partners, and inspiring continued action. This free program provides opportunities for Leave No Trace training, community outreach, and volunteer stewardship.

Selected spaces range from National Parks and Forests, to state or municipal sites, to local non-profits and organizations. 

How It Works

  1. Sites nominate themselves for the program.  
  2. We hand-select nominated outdoor spaces that need our community’s care and attention. 
  3. Our Subaru/Leave No Trace team(s) travel to Spotlight locations to host free educational workshops, community cleanups, restoration projects, and more!
  4. You attend the Spotlight to support conservation efforts in your community.
  5. These Spotlight locations benefit from Leave No Trace education, awareness, and community engagement, leading to a better-than-we-found-it outdoors where preservation and conservation are in full force.

Spotlights take place across the country at every type of natural area. Each location receives three days of Leave No Trace education and fun for the whole community!

So mark your calendars, spread the word, and get ready to roll up your sleeves for some conservation work. We will see you out there!

Spotlights in Action

Wheat Ridge, CO

The Wheat Ridge Spotlight directly educated 213 members of the community with 48 volunteers planting wildflowers, 72 youth campers learning Leave No Trace, 45 community members participating in a trivia night, and 54 people reached in other outreach programs.

Red Rock Canyon NCA, NV

The Red Rock Canyon Spotlight had 33 volunteers work to repair fences and rehabilitate social trails. 24 staff and partners received Leave No Trace training. The coverage of the program by NPR reached over 4,000 community members. Red Rock Canyon NCA is now working toward Gold Standard Site designation.

Biscayne Bay, FL

Four local organizations came together in a joint effort for the Spotlight with 19 stakeholders trained in Leave No Trace, 45 community members participating in Leave No Trace Trivia Night, and 55 volunteers removing litter and handing out trash bags to boaters. 

On the Ground Impact

Since the program launched in January 2023, Spotlights have:

Get Involved

Nominate a Spotlight

Are you a land manager, outdoor educator, or part of a non-profit or group that could benefit from free Leave No Trace educational programs?

Attend a Spotlight

Are you a Leave No Tracer, outdoor enthusiast, volunteer, or nature lover interested in getting involved?

Frequently Asked Questions

The Leave No Trace Spotlight program brings together our shared love for the outdoors with a dedication to preserving its well-being and beauty.

Spotlights are designed to energize local Leave No Trace efforts by rallying the community, connecting partners, and inspiring continued action. This free program provides opportunities for Leave No Trace training, community outreach, and volunteer stewardship. Selected areas receive up to 3 days of Leave No Trace on-the-ground programs for staff, partners, and the local community. 

Before nominating a Spotlight, be sure you can meet the host responsibilities.

  • Land Managers: Those who work within a park or protected area
  • Local Organizations: Friends Groups, non-profits, etc., so long as these groups have support from the land manager for the site and can meet all host responsibilities.
    • It is important to have the full support of the land managers and stakeholders associated with the site before going through with a nomination. If you are a concerned citizen looking to nominate your favorite park, we recommend reaching out directly to the site leadership or local group and making them aware of the opportunity to become a Leave No Trace Spotlight instead of submitting the nomination on a site’s behalf.
  • Spotlights entail up to 3 days of on-site programs with one or two programs per day. The planning process for the Spotlight takes place over the 3-4 months leading up to the activation and involves working closely with Leave No Trace staff and attending multiple virtual planning meetings.

The focus of the Spotlight is to build momentum for community led conservation through multiple programs including 1 or 2 from each of the following categories:

  • Stewardship Project(s) that is open to the general public – e.g., cleanup, trailwork, revegetation, campsite restoration, etc.
  • Educational Workshops – this can include staff and volunteer training, Effective Communication of Leave No Trace, a Youth Educator Workshop, an Introduction to Leave No Trace Workshop, or a youth program
  • Community Outreach – This can include boothing at an existing festival, a Leave No Trace Trivia Night, trailhead outreach, pop-up education at a local business, etc.

Yes! Although there is no fee to participate in the Spotlight program, it is important for the host organization/agency to understand the roles, responsibilities, and the time commitment required for a successful Spotlight activation.

Yes. While one person can take the lead on planning the Spotlight, a co-host is required to ensure there is a backup contact should something change during the planning process. Your co-host can be a member of the same orgnization, a separate organization, or an active volunteer.

Nominations are reviewed by a panel and selections are based on a number of criteria including but not limited to:

  • On-the-ground staffing resources for a successful activation
  • Potential for engaging new or large audiences with Leave No Trace
  • Geographic location – we are looking to engage sites all across the country and also from different types of settings and agencies i.e. municipal parks in urban areas, state or regional parks and open spaces, federally managed parks, etc. 
  • Alignment of timing with Leave No Trace staff capacity and strategic goals

Leave No Trace staff will notify all sites of their acceptance status by October 2024. Depending on the number of nominations, a second nomination period may be opened later in the year for additional Spotlight sites.

Spotlights from this nomination period will take place in 2025, starting in January and going until November. Dates will depend on the hosts’ preferred dates as well as availability of the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Teams and other factors (e.g. weather conditions in a chosen site). We suggest holding a 3 day Spotlight activation from Thursday-Saturday to allow both weekday and weekend events.

No, Spotlights are their own unique program. Hot Spots have a more internal focus with multiple stakeholder meetings, intensive information gathering, and a detailed analysis with recommendations on future program implementation and adjustments. Spotlights are more focused on the community with opportunities for outward facing programs to build momentum and inspire local action and involvement. You can find out more about the Hot Spot program here.

At Leave No Trace, we believe communities are the solution to conservation issues. We identified a need to create more opportunities for communities, and the individuals that make them up, to be that solution. We want to connect more Leave No Trace champions to local conservation efforts, and provide more communities with support as they tackle challenges facing their outdoor areas. Leave No Trace created the Spotlight program to meet this need.