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May 13, 2015

Smith Rock State Park, Oregon: Last summer the National Park Service banned the use of drones (unmanned aircraft) in all of their 84 million acres which include: parks, monuments, historic sites, and seashores Drone use has been banned due to safety, noise, and impacts to wildlife. For the most part drones are allowed in municipal spaces as long as they fly below 400 feet, stay away from populated areas, and don’t interfere with aircraft (cnn.com, 2014). Individual state parks and entire state park systems have adopted this ban as well due to concerns within their own parks. As of now, drone use is only temporarily banned in National Parks until a more comprehensive plan can be developed for their use. Leave No Trace does not have a specific stance on drone use, but does recommended following the rules and regulations of the land management agency. Leave No Trace as an organization encourage people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly without impacting wildlife or other visitors.

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Below is a short list of drone related impacts found in parks that had contributed to the ban:

·      In Zion National Park a drone hovered closely to a heard of bighorn sheep. The noise and presence of this drone scattered the baby sheep from their mothers.

o   A fine of up to 5,000 dollars and six months in jail is the penalty for flying a drone in Zion National Park.

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·      Drones flying overhead at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California can easily disturb seabirds, seals, shorebirds, and sea otters.

·      Nesting peregrine falcons in Yosemite National Park are affected by the presence of drones flying too close.

·      A climber was buzzed by while climbing at the Fisher Towers in Utah. While climbing can be a spectator sport at times in busy areas, typically climbers are able to escape the crowds by climbing higher and higher, yet with a drone there are limited chances for peace and quiet.

·      Despite the fact that drones are banned in Yosemite National Park, drones still continue to buzz the walls while climbers and wildlife utilize and survive on the cliffs.

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Drones will continue to become more common over time as they become more popular and affordable. Until management plans can be created to effectively handle the impacts that they can have on wildlife and other visitors, a ban seems likely to stay in place for a the time being.

Thanks for reading and remember to be like the Center’s mascot Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.

Pat and TJ

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley 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.

http://climbing.about.com/od/staysafeclimbing/fl/Drones-Banned-in-National-State-and-Local-Parks.htm

http://www.cnet.com/news/as-national-parks-issue-drone-bans-some-states-fall-in-line/

May 11, 2015

Vandalism continues to be a major problem in parks.  Which of the Seven Principles does this issue conflict with?  Read the full article here.  

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May 07, 2015

Smith Rock State Park, Oregon: This past weekend the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers attended the 23rd annual Spring Thing trail cleaning/building day at Smith Rock State Park near Terrebonne, Oregon. Smith Rock is a climbers dream area; tall cliffs dotted with cracks and sport routes in an ideal desert setting with snowy peaks in the background make this a fantastic place to climb. Due to Smith’s ideal temperature in the spring, winter, and fall; the perfect rock, the quantity of routes, and the close proximity to major urban areas like Bend, Eugene, and Portland, Smith sees a lot of visitors throughout the year.  Over 700,000 visitors come to the park each year with a total of 19,000 campers using the bivouac campsite throughout the year. The park is a mere 758 acres, but hosts climbers, birders, hikers, trail runners, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and paddlers. Due to all of the amount of people, the popularity of the park, and the small acreage, impacts are accumulating at a significant rate.

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Impacts at Smith Rock State Park include; unprepared visitors needing assistance due to a lack of proper equipment and poorly researched trip planning, undesignated trails forming and plants/living biological soil crusts being trampled, impacts to wildlife, dog owners not controlling or cleaning up after their dogs, poor trail etiquette, and noisy groups.

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The Leave No Trace education department is working with the park staff at Smith Rock to develop recommendations to help educate visitors to mitigate the impacts found there.  A set of 5 principles specific to Smith Rock State Park for all visitors and recreational activities will be implemented. Once the principles are finalized, they will be publicized several different ways

·      Leave No Trace Social Media

·      Signs at Kiosks

·      Rotating Single Principle Signs in Key Locations

·      The Oregon State Park website and The Smith Rock State Park website

·      Website Posting

·      Local Media

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A document focused on recommendations for large organized climbing groups is in the development stages. It will be very detailed and is not a climbing management plan.

If you know any parks or land management agencies in your area that would benefit from Leave No Trace specific considerations developed for them please contact info@LNT.org.

Thanks for reading and remember to be like the Center’s mascot Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.

Pat and TJ

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley 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.

May 01, 2015

San Francisco's Dolores Park is currently facing some challenges concerning trash and visitors.  In order to take on these challenges San Francisco's Parks Department has contracted Leave No Trace to consult this "culture problem".  Check out this article featuring the Center's Education Director, Ben Lawhon!  

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