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Dec 17, 2014

Regarding the soon to be required Master Educator Online Refresher Course. Per the Center's National Training Guidelines, none of the levels of Leave No Trace training currently (Master Educator, Trainer or Awareness) offer certification. From the Training Guidelines:

"Leave No Trace courses do not teach basic travel, camping or other outdoor skills, nor do they provide outdoor instructor certification."

While there are some benefits to not having to go through some sort of "recertification" program, there are also some drawbacks. Perhaps the single biggest drawback is that Master Educators are often uninformed about current Leave No Trace programmatic elements, changes to the training structure, and lastly, have a lack of understanding of the administrative procedures that pertain to Trainer Courses. 

Though some Master Educators and Trainers take the initiative to stay abreast of programmatic changes, many remain uninformed. The Center has employed a variety of outreach strategies to keep Leave No Trace educators up-to-date on changes, additions, etc. but has struggled for consistency. The Center has routinely found over the past decade that though the broader Leave No Trace program is generally consistent, there are sometimes changes from one year to the next. Such changes definitely affect the training structure, and include (but aren't limited to):

•   New techniques

•   New science/research results

•   Revised administrative procedures

•   Changes in course reporting

•   Development of additional resources for instructors and students

•   New Leave No Trace curriculum

•   Enhanced or new grant opportunities

Through a comprehensive and multi-year scoping process, the Center determined that the primary focus should be ensuring that Master Educators are as current in their knowledge as possible since they're on the front lines running Trainer Courses and to a lesser extent Awareness Workshops. Furthermore, a Master Educator refresher course was resoundingly recommended as the best mechanism for keeping Master Educators up to speed. As such, the Center released the course in early 2014 and has had many Master Educators take the refresher thus far. Generally, the FREE online course takes 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. To put this time commitment into perspective, the recertification for a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) takes 3 days and costs between $250-$360 per person. 

The Master Educator Refresher will be required starting in January 1, 2015 for any Master Educator (regardless of whether they are the lead instructor or the co-instructor for Trainer Courses) who intends to offer Leave No Trace Trainer Courses. If a Master Educator only offers Awareness Workshops or other Leave No Trace training or outreach that does not involve the 16-hour Trainer Course, then the refresher is not required at any time though it will be strongly recommended for all Master Educators. Master Educators who complete the online refresher will be updated in our system with their refresher date. Additionally, all submitted Trainer Course rosters will be crosschecked to ensure that the Master Educators (both the lead instructor and the co-instructor) who facilitated the course are current in our system. If they are not, the Trainer Course participants will not, unfortunately, receive certificates from us. 

The refresher will be required once every two years only for Master Educators offering Trainer Courses, and the following stipulations apply: 

·      All Master Educators who took their Master Educator Course prior to January 1, 2013, and wish to offer Leave No Trace Trainer Courses are required to take the online refresher before offering any Trainer Courses in 2015. 

·      All Master Educators who took their Master Educator Course after January 1, 2013, and wish to offer Leave No Trace Trainer Courses are required to take the online refresher within two years of the date they completed their original Master Educator Course. 

The Center's overarching goal is to have well-informed and knowledgeable Master Educators facilitating Leave No Trace Trainer Courses. Based on the high number of inquiries received on a daily basis from Master Educators seeking information on running Trainer Courses, the Center feels that the refresher will help keep those Master Educators informed, knowledgeable and connected to both the Center and broader Leave No Trace efforts. This is in no way intended to be a burden; rather it is a tremendous continuing education opportunity to ensure the highest quality Master Educators possible. 

To take the refresher, please visit:


Dec 17, 2014


The Importance of Partnership 


1.    Why Leave No Trace?  Why is it important to your organization?

Winter Wildlands Alliance values and promotes human-powered winter recreation and works to protect our wild winter landscapes.  We believe we have a responsibility to protect the places where we play so that future generations can enjoy the same opportunities we do today.  By following and promoting the 7 Leave No Trace principles, backcountry skiers and snowshoers can minimize our impact and help keep the backcountry wild. 

2.    What is the best part of being a partner?

We are excited to work with Leave No Trace to adapt the 7 principles for winter backcountry travelers.  Partnering with Leave No Trace will help spread the message of minimum-impact winter travel across our community and beyond.  

3.    Describe in 10 words your community without Leave No Trace.

Out of balance in terms of protecting the places we enjoy.

4.    Best example of Leave No Trace at work from your organization?

Passing the message of low impact winter travel on to more than 28,000 grade school students each winter through our national SnowSchool program. 

5.    Who your organization serves and where?

We work with human-powered winter recreationists across the country.

6.    Why do you work where you work?

Backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are activities that can be enjoyed anywhere with enough snow (and preferably a hill or two).  We see ourselves as a resource for the backcountry community and have expanded our geographic focus as more and more partners seek us out.

7.    Describe a perfect day outside.

A powder day in the mountains with good friends. 

8.    Can’t go outside without my…

Favorite hat.

9.    Favorite outdoor place?

The Wasatch Range

10. Top accomplishment of your organization?

Last April Winter Wildlands Alliance won a historic victory when a Federal Court agreed with our claim that the Forest Service has an obligation to manage snowmobiles under the same guidelines used for all other off-road vehicles in other seasons. The court directed the Agency to develop a new rule outlining the process under which each national forest will create a winter travel plan to complement their existing summer travel management plans. This new Over-Snow Vehicle Travel Rule is a huge opportunity to protect winter ecosystems and bring balance to the backcountry.

11. Most forgotten Leave No Trace principle?

Snow is an ever-changing medium, so the principle of traveling and camping on durable surfaces takes on new meaning but keeping the 7 principles in mind helps keep protecting the resource at the forefront.

12. How does practicing Leave No Trace add to your well-being?

The 7 principles provide a conscious reminder of how I can reduce my personal impact on the world around me and live in accordance with my values. 


Answers by: Winter Wildlands Alliance Executive Director, Mark Menlove

Dec 16, 2014

Winter is a wonderful time to experience the outdoors. Many find that winter offers solitude, scenic beauty, and a chance to hone outdoor skills. But, with winter use on the rise, users and land managers are beginning to witness more winter recreation-related impacts such as user conflicts, inappropriate human waste disposal, vegetation damage and significant impacts on wildlife. As a growing number of skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and telemarkers venture out in winter for day or overnight trips, the need to practice Leave No Trace winter techniques is now greater than ever.

Fortunately, for the recreationist, many of the usual concerns about the impacts of three-season backcountry use are of little concern in winter. Although growing, the visitor numbers are lower than those of other seasons, and soil and vegetation are often covered under a thick layer of snow, which greatly helps to minimize impacts.

Below are 5 tips to minimizing your impact when exploring these beautiful winter opportunities.

1.) Dress in layers.  In winter, more so than any other season, dressing appropriately could mean the difference between comfort and despair.  Dressing in layers allows you to take off clothing as your body heat increases.  If you cross the threshold into sweating, when you stop moving or the sun goes down, that wet clothing will not be good.

2.) Stay on deep snow whenever possible.  Snow deeper than 6 inches adequately protects underlying vegetation from trampling.  Thus, nearly any surface covered by enough snow is considered “durable”.

3.) Use the area’s natural topography.  When recreating in snow-covered areas, it’s often challenging to find exposed, soft ground to site and dig a cat-hole.  For this reason, packing out solid waste is always the best recommendation.  However, this isn’t always possible.  In this case, it’s appropriate to dig a snow cat-hole, but be aware that come spring, when the snow melts, that waste will end up resting directly on the surface of the ground.  With a topographical map, we can ensure our snow cat-holes aren’t dug in drainages, near water sources, trails, or other areas of concern. 

4.) Snow makes a great natural toilet paper alternative.

5.) Winter is an especially vulnerable time for wildlife and it’s important more so now than any other time to respect an animals space, properly secure your food and trash, and observe area closures.

By following the Leave No Trace winter use principles and the simple tips outlined above, outdoor enthusiasts can help to ensure protection of resources and the quality of winter experiences.

Jason Grubb - Education Programs Coordinator

Dec 16, 2014


What if Leave No Trace Was Present in Every Park?

The goal—Leave No Trace education for everyone who loves the outdoors—is enormous. What if everyone who stepped into the natural world was imbued with an outdoor ethic? We have asked ourselves if we could we really pull it off. What might it actually mean for the health and longevity of the lands we all love? What if all children learned just a few Leave No Trace skills to carry them into adulthood? The collective impact would be earth-changing, literally.

The fastest way to get there, we believe, is to focus on the source—the lands themselves. We decided to ramp up our work on public lands, concentrating on a new, multi-year initiative: Leave No Trace in Every Park. The campaign will focus on public lands: local to national parks, forests and protected areas.

Our new, multi-year initiative will incorporate Leave No Trace programs and educational opportunities across the country. Leave No Trace in Every Park will take many forms from interpretive materials, staff and volunteer training, public education initiatives, onsite signs, junior ranger programs, Leave No Trace Hot Spots, Demonstration Sites and more.

A first step was to open up the nominations process for 2015 Hot Spots. You responded, and the Center received 73 nominations for Hot Spots. We will be announcing the slate of 12 sites in January. Volunteers will engage in citizen science in your parks, and the Center will engage with partners and friends groups around the nation to begin activating Leave No Trace in communities far and wide.

Stay tuned for your call to action to engage. We plan to change the world, one person, one forest, one park at a time.

Enjoy Your World. Leave No Trace. 

Susy Alkaitis - Deputy Director