Forces of Nature

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Stewards of natural resources and nature, the Natural Lands Trust in Pennsylvania owns 40 properties with 21,000 acres as well as conservation easements on more than 19,000 acres. How do they save land, steward natural resources, and connect with nature? They manage it through volunteers in their Force of Nature program and high quality professional staff, of course. This weekend, the Leave No Trace e-tour team stopped in for two different training sessions with these groups to talk about the principles of Leave No Trace, how to apply them in frontcountry settings, and the ways to approach outdoor users to help inform them and improve their behavior using the technique known as the Authority of the Resource. These knowledgeable individuals incorporate Leave No Trace into their interactions with visitors, signage, and have detailed information on their website for individuals so they can Know Before they Go check out some sweet preserves in their area!

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While visiting these preserves, many users have encountered issues with pet-use by their fellow outdoor visitors. Whether it’s people not cleaning up dog poop, leaving bags of dog poop in the middle of trails, or allowing their dogs off-leash in designated leash areas; dog-related issues cropped up throughout both of our sessions. When the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics adapted our original seven principles for Frontcountry Recreation, we recognized the difficulty of pet-related impacts and mentioned them in two principles – Trash Your Trash & Pick Up Poop as well as Share Our Trails & Manage Your Pet (relating to Dispose of Waste Properly and Be Considerate of Other Visitors respectively). Even with signage and education in place, people at these preserves still run into these issues.


While many of us enjoy spending time in the outdoors with our pooches, these animals are visitors to the outdoors just like people.  While you may trust your dog off-leash, other visitors do not know the animal and may be apprehensive about being approached by strange and unknown canines. Additionally, your dog may know how to respond to situations at the local dog park but not be able to control him or herself if encountering a deer, moose, or raccoon. Think about the impact to other visitors as well as wildlife in the area. Furthermore, leaving dog poop on the ground, either in a bag or not, is both unsightly and unhealthy for ecosystems. This issue can be one of the biggest cumulative impacts to outdoor spaces. Next time you and Fido are out for a stroll, Plan Ahead & Prepare with a leash and some bags!


Quinn & Frank