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The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recently designated Florida’s Little Talbot Island State Park its first 2014 Leave No Trace Hot Spot as part of the nonprofit organization’s campaign to put Leave No Trace into action on public lands across the country. Leave No Trace Hot Spot events took place on June 5-8 at Little Talbot Island State Park.
Located 17 miles from Jacksonville, the popular 2,500-acre state park is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in northeast Florida. The heavily used Little Talbot Island State Park has experienced visitor-created impacts in recent years. Trash, damage to vegetation and trees, fishing waste such as lines and hooks, water trails from kayaks and canoe pull outs in undesignated areas as well as trail erosion, and user conflicts have damaged the park. All these factors have led to the Little Talbot Island’s designation as the Leave No Trace Hot Spot for 2014.
In its fourth year, the Leave No Trace Hot Spot programs raise awareness about natural areas around the country facing the threat of irreversible environmental damage. As part of the initiative, The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, a national organization that protects outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly, works with volunteers, nonprofit organizations, friends groups and governmental agencies to reduce the impact of recreational activities in the selected endangered area. This goal is achieved through community outreach, education, training, signage, educational materials and local collaboration.
Many of the areas where we love to spend time outdoors are impacted by recreational use, some more severely than others. Generally, it is a result of a lack of awareness or skills that lead to these impacts, the most common being:
Litter, dog waste, invasive species, habituated wildlife, trail and campsite erosion, contamination of water sources, names carved in trees, cigarette butts along a trail, damaged cultural and historic sites, toilet paper “flowers” around campsites and pets chasing wildlife.
High use weekend at the San Gabriel River, just an hour from Los Angeles, CA.
These impacted areas, or Leave No Trace Hot Spots, can benefit from increased awareness about how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. If we know the consequences of our actions and the ways to minimize our individual and cumulative impacts, we can all go a long way towards protecting the places we cherish for future generations.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics actively seeks to make a difference across the country for the Leave No Trace Hot Spots program. Through outreach, education, training, signage, educational materials, consulting and local collaboration, the Center aims to work with motivated individuals, groups, non-profits and governmental agencies to effectively use the Leave No Trace program to reduce impacts on lands used by the public for recreation.