What if Leave No Trace were present in every park, in every forest? What if even basic Leave No Trace concepts were alive within the minds of our children?
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 that very “what if” lately. 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 sources—the lands themselves, as well as youth. We decided to introduce two new campaigns. The first would ramp up our work on public lands, concentrating on a new, multi-year initiative: Leave No Trace in Every Park. The campaign focuses on public lands: local, state, and 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, on-site 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 announced the slate of 12 sites in January. Volunteers will engage in citizen-based Leave No Trace monitoring in your parks, and the Center will engage partners and friends’ groups around the nation to begin activating Leave No Trace in communities far and wide.
With a multi-year grant from a private foundation, Leave No Trace for Every Kid, the Center’s second campaign, will first develop and implement relevant curriculum and certification for youth and camp programs. Camps and youth programs are often the diving board into a long-term love of the outdoors. By focusing on settings where they are already actively experiencing their natural world, Leave No Trace hopes to introduce basic Leave No Trace concepts while kids are forming their personal ethic framework.
We plan to change the world; one child, one forest, one park at a time. We hope you join us, support this work, lend your ideas and volunteer. Enjoy Your World. Leave No Trace.
Susy Alkaitis, Leave No Trace Deputy Director