News & Updates
Sonoma County Agencies Protect Nature with Leave No Trace Partnership
SANTA ROSA, CA — To celebrate the #FutureOfTravel during National Travel and Tourism Week, we’re highlighting some of Leave No Trace’s amazing tourism partnerships. Recognizing the advantages of an interagency approach, Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks have coordinated their messages to visitors and residents about how to protect natural areas —a surprisingly uncommon interagency approach to sharing Leave No Trace education.
“Sonoma County initially contacted Leave No Trace because of its practical approach to the critical challenge of changing consumer behavior,” says Claudia Vecchio, CEO, Sonoma County Tourism. “We believe the success of this program will be in the shared commitment between Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks. Leave No Trace often works with land managers and local tourism partners, but often each serves as a tangential stakeholder to the process. To have both tourism and land management entities working together in a true partnership, has been and will continue to be essential to achieving a truly responsible visitor environment.”
Sonoma’s innovative strategy of bringing tourism professionals and land managers together to protect natural areas is producing strong results. “We’re seeing so much intent to bring Leave No Trace through the lens of tourism, but that’s often without land manager allies from the outset,” says Andrew Leary, Director of Sustainable Tourism and Partnerships at Leave No Trace. “A progressive partnership like the one between Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks represents a novel approach to solving outdoor recreation impact issues that is needed for the future of regenerative tourism.”
Leary points out that in many places, visitors receive inconsistent messages about how to protect natural values. For Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks, however, their common focus on Leave No Trace provides a clear and understandable set of guidelines.
“As more people discover the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors, responsible recreation is all about learning how to minimize collective impacts on the places we love,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “This partnership allows us to amplify this important message to a wider community of visitors, empowering them to join us in protecting Sonoma County’s irreplaceable natural resources.”
Last month, Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks announced its joint Sonoma County Leave No Trace Coalition Toolkit. The toolkit, developed in collaboration with Leave No Trace, contains physical and digital assets for land managers and hospitality businesses to promote practices designed to prevent environmental impacts in parks, preserves, and other outdoor recreation locations. Additionally, Sonoma County Tourism and Sonoma County Regional Parks have released its Leave No Trace Five Year Stewardship Action Framework. The framework describes the imperatives of the initiative and outlines the activities required to achieve key priorities, along with a set of outcomes to monitor progress.
The efforts in Sonoma County are being noticed beyond the county as well. Sonoma County Tourism has extended its license with Leave No Trace to the neighboring counties of Marin and Mendocino. This new three-county group will work with Leave No Trace to address coastal trash and litter — developing shared goals and a uniform message to apply along the Northern California coastline.
Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together
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