Jasper, AR--There are two schools of thought about choosing your career, or the work you do: 1. It defines who you are; it is what you live for. 2. It offers you a means to do the things you want to do or have the things you want to have? For many people the latter is becoming the case more and more as we see a shift from days spent in a corporate world to nights spent in WV Vanagons traveling the country in search of the next great adventure. Regardless of how you view the work you do, we can all agree on one thing, everybody is working for the weekend. Whether you like to camp, hike, horseback ride, float, climb, or relax in style in a home away from home, we have found a place for you: Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. This 500+ acre ranch has it all, from wildlife to wild activities. It is no wonder that thousands of weekend warriors come to visit this haven in the Ozark Mountains all year round. But it seems that even this place has not been able to escape the litterbug’s vengeance.
Leave No Trace is focused on changing peoples’ behavior when it comes to how we interact with the outdoors. Often the change can take place with a little well placed education and awareness. This education includes how to dig a cat-hole and how to remain on durable surfaces; but there is another arm of the education encouraging recreationists to examine the mindset with which they enter a place, to explore their ethic and bring it to the forefront of their minds. We, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers East Central Team, had a chance last week to thank the owner of Horseshoe Canyon for sharing their spectacular property with us and the public. Naturally, the topic of Leave No Trace arose. We began discussing the aftermath of the near 120 visitors that visited Horseshoe Canyon the weekend before: “It’s a bit different here. It is all pay to play, so people pay to come here, to climb and camp...meaning they should be cleaned up after.”
It can be easy to fall into this mindset, and we understand that this mindset can stem from our experiences with the service industry, but we want to challenge it. If we use the idea, paying to be here means we should be waited on, our outdoor recreation would never lend any attention to environmental stewardship. While we may not pay directly to recreate in some national/state parks, national forests, or other public land, we are always contributing through taxes, donations, and in some cases, volunteer hours. If payment were an excuse to trash a place then soon all of our wild lands would be degraded beyond the point of healing.
Whether we are on private land or public land it is paramount to take care of our environment and we can use our ethics as a guideline to help us make appropriate decisions, develop healthy habits, and become good stewards of our environment. Each person’s ethics will be different because we develop our personal ethics from our own experiences in life and no two people are just alike. It is important to always view our ethics as an evolution, and to question the choices we make. Through this examination we can begin to change a mind set that may have been influenced by our past experiences, but may no longer be the best practice for us. Leaving no trace does not happen overnight, it can take form in baby steps, baby thoughts, micro trash or the Bigfoot Challenge, but ultimately it is our goal to see that Weekend Warrior and Outdoor Steward are synonymous as environmentally conscious recreationists, so that we can keep the litterbugs at bay. From your backyard to the backcountry—it is all connected.
Leaving your mark is overrated.
--Katelyn and Blake
Leave No Trace’s Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson are part of the 2015 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, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.