Hot Spot

Grand Teton National Park

Teton County, WY

In the last four years, Grand Teton National Park has had a 23% increase in visitation with a record breaking 4.8 million visitors in 2016 alone. One of the most popular areas in the park is the 100-acre String Lake. It is often recommended by park staff and local retailers because of the easy lake access as well as access to trails for day hikers and backpackers alike. The String Lake area within Grand Teton National Park was selected as the focal point of this 2017 Hot Spot because of major impacts including the improper storage of food that leads to problem-bears that all too often have to be euthanized, proliferating social trails, shoreline erosion and the ecological and social impacts associated with overcrowding.

During this Hot Spot, we picked up 1,284 pieces of micro-trash, reached 30,000 visitors through educational contacts, and facilitated 7.5 volunteer hours.

Solution

While on site, the Traveling Trainers teamed up with park staff to educate String Lake visitors on a busy summer weekend. They spoke with thousands of visitors about the importance of using the bear lockers provided by the park, as well as the negative impacts associated with traveling off established trails. leave No Trace also worked directly with Grand Teton National Park’s volunteer group known as the String Lakers. This group is dedicated to protecting String Lake through visitor education and engagement. The team gave the volunteers an in-depth overview of leave No Trace and taught participants how to educate visitors about the issues that are negatively impacting String Lake and practices that prevent those impacts. There is interest in having this education be included in their mandatory training at the start of each season.

leave No Trace staff also spent time touring the Jackson area, talking with various retailers, the chamber of commerce, and hotels/lodges. The Traveling Trainers provided these businesses with information about the visitor created impacts at String Lake. They also addressed how to help visitors plan ahead and prepare for their trip to the park as a way of reducing future impacts. During their week on-site, the Traveling Trainers partnered with the Teton Science School for a Leave No Trace workshop that coincided with a clean-up at String Lake, during which the group picked up over 1,200 pieces of micro-trash around the lake.

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