The three waterfalls that make up Hungarian Falls are managed by two different entities; the Keweenaw Land Trust manages the upper falls and the middle and lower falls are managed by Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources. The area is well loved by locals and tourists alike, seeing up to 18,000 visitors annually. Visitors to the area include ATVers, hikers, bikers, equestrians, as well as skiers and snowshoers in the winter months. The three falls and the small 10 acres that surrounded them are threatened by impacts including social trails, off-trail ATV use, illegal fires, and a past history as a community dumping ground. Soil erosion from the proliferation of social trails has taken the brunt of these impacts.
The Hot Spot efforts were among the land managers’ first pushes for publicity and education surrounding these impacts. The Leave No Trace team worked with local teachers and environmental educators to exemplify how they could teach their students avout the importance of leave No Trace through engaging activites. The educators were passionate about sharing Leave No Trace with students and incorporating the new content into their current techniques. While on-site Leave No Trace also hosted several guided hikes in which they were able to show attendees direct examples of impacts at the falls and explain how practicing Leave No Trace teqhniques could prevent these damages. The Traveling Trainers worked with local community members on a volunteer project in which 1,400 pounds of trash, graffiti, and two campfire rings were removed. They also worked to naturalize some of the area’s undesignated trails. All in all, Leave No Trace was able to reach 500 people with Leave No Trace education during the week at Hungarian Falls.
Moving forward, the Keweenaw Land Trust plans to hold a Leave No Trace Trainer Course to increase the presence and knowledge of Leave No Trace in the community. There is also a plan to expand Leave No Trace messaging throughout the area and to include the educational “why” behind the Seven Principles on signage. These “why” concepts will help visitors better understand how their behaviours can negatively impact the falls and how Leave No Trace practices can prevent those impacts
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