Hot Spot

Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves

Fort Pierce, FL

The Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve is a beautiful camping destination for tourists and locals alike. The beautiful views, easy access for kayakers, and presence of dolphins and stingrays bring over 7.4 million visitors to the small preserve each year. Once on the islands, there is no access to fresh water, bathroom or trash facilities, or downed wood for fires. Lack of visitor preparation has caused this delicate ecosystem to be threatened by impacts including the illegal cutting of mangroves, improper disposal of human waste, litter, and campfire impacts. Visitors also often venture on to islands that are designated solely for conservation, damaging their fragile ecosystems.

During this Hot Spot, we removed 30 pounds of trash, helped facilitate 140 service hours, and hosted 11 trainings and workshops

Solution

Leave No Trace spent a week at the Preserves hosting 11 events and trainings targeted at mitigating the recreation-related issues at Indian River Lagoon. As a part of the on-site efforts, Traveling Trainers worked with 60 park stakeholders during several effective communication workshops. These workshops equipped participants with the tools to communicate Leave No Trace information in a way that will help visitors understand how their behaviours are negatively impacting the Spoil Islands and inform them of what they can do to prevent these impacts. Local classroom workshops provided a great opportunity for the team to educate and inspire local youth on how they can protect the Prerseves and their other favorite outdoor destinations. The Spoil Islands Service Day brought together the Preserves’ dedicated volunteers and local partner organizations for a litter cleanup and installation of a new WAG bag dispenser on one of the islands. The installation of the new dispenser and corresponding educational signage will help inform visitors about, and reduce the impacts from, the improper disposal of human waste.

As Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve expands their incorporation of Leave No Trace education, they plan to use direct Leave No Trace messaging on signage and have volunteers and staff participate in Leave No Trace trainings. One member of the Indian River Lagoon staff received a scholarship from the Center to participate in a 5-day Master Educator Course. This high-level course prepared her to train fellow staff members as well as volunteers and members of the local community in Leave No Trace skills and ethics.

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