News & Updates

Hot Spot Visit Earns Praise from Land Manager, Attention from New York Times

Mark Eller - August 31, 2017

Denning, NY: Earlier this summer, the acclaimed Hot Spot program visited New York’s Catskills region, targeting an area called Peekamoose Blue Hole. This once-tranquil swimming spot has recently seen an explosion in popularity, leading to overcrowding, litter and other challenges. This situation is exactly what the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Hot Spot program was created to address, with intensive, week-long visits that focus on educating visitors about how to minimize their impacts, as well as working in partnership with land managers to formulate lasting solutions. 

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Image: Crowded conditions at New York's Peekamoose Blue Hole. 

The Traveling Trainers “Team East” duo of Stephanie Whatton and Andy Mossey led the Hot Spots effort at Peekamoose Blue Hole. Their work caught the eye of the New York Times, which ran a story titled A Tranquil Swimming Hole Is Overwhelmed by Its Own Internet Fame.

While national media attention is always welcome, it was even more rewarding to receive words of praise from one of the key land managing partners for this visit. Bill Rudge is the Natural Resources Supervisor for Region 3 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Rudge wrote:

I’m writing to express the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s utmost appreciation for this year’s Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Hot Spot Crew at the Peekamoose Blue Hole. I must admit that while we have always viewed education as an important, if not critical element in the stewardship of our lands, there was a level of skepticism that many of the users of the Blue Hole would be receptive to a Leave No Trace program. However, the dynamic team of Stephanie and Andy more than alleviated any concerns we may have had and in fact really proved to us that an educational element is essential if we are to keep this area open to recreational use.

They proved to us that educating the public about Leave No Trace at the entrance to the Blue Hole is effective in showing that we, the land managers, care about the area, and that we need them (the users) to help us take care of the area so that they can continue to enjoy it. I must also say that Stephanie and Andy are outstanding educators who excelled at capturing the public’s attention and conveying the Leave No Trace message. In addition, we had several partners that complimented their efforts including the Adirondack Mountain Club, the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and of course our staff of Foresters, Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers that together contributed to a highly successful week.

While we have much yet to do to ensure a sustainable level of use that minimizes resource impacts and staff resources at the Blue Hole, the Leave No Trace Hot Spot program has demonstrated the value of education and the power of a team effort to address this situation. Thanks for the outstanding contribution that Stephanie and Andy and the Leave No Trace program has made.

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Image: Traveling Trainer Andy Mossey engages visitors at a trailhead. 

Rudge’s words of praise were warmly received at the Center. The Hot Spots program is continuing through 2017, with 13 of 16 stops completed to date. A calendar of 2018 Hot Spots is being finalized and will be released in upcoming months. You can support this kind of high-impact work and help protect natural areas. Stay informed about Hot Spots and other programs by signing up for free, monthly e-newsletters and other communications. 


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