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Fort Pierce, FL: The Indian River Lagoon region has over 7 million visitors every year. The blue waters, and sunny skies make it easy to see why one would love to paddle and visit these waterways. However, with each person visiting this unique ecosystem, impacts are becoming more and more prominent. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers visited the preserves during the first 2017 Leave No Trace Hot Spot.
After spending some time exploring the area with the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves land managers and volunteers with the Friends of the Spoil Islands; we became witness to some very serious recreationally based impacts, particularly on the spoil islands.
These islands require some planning. They offer no fresh water, facilities, or downed wood. People going out on these islands must bring their own supplies. Including a way to pack out human waste.
W.A.G. bags offer a great solution to a big problem. Not only is human waste unsanitary for visitors but also has the potential to pollute waterways. The spoil islands do not have enough organic soil or secluded areas far enough from water to effectively dig a cat hole. Therefore, the local land ethic is for all visitors to pack out their waste using a W.A.G. bag.
If ever you plan a trip to these beautiful islands, bring all of the supplies you will need, including a stock of W.A.G. bags for all of your bathroom needs. With a little bit of planning we can all do our part to help protect the spoil islands of the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves. Let's keep exploring this beautiful place, while doing our best not to love it to death.
Enjoy your world & Leave No Trace
Steph and Andy – Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Team East
*Special thanks to James Seybert for aerial video footage.
Leave No Trace’s Steph 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, Fjall Raven, ENO, Deuter, Thule, and SmartWool.