News & Updates

What Are the Prevalent Outdoor Impacts During Coronavirus?

Leave No Trace - April 9, 2020

It has been weeks since the country descended into various forms of coronavirus pandemic quarantine. In some of the hardest hit areas, this has meant shelter at home orders with little ability to be outdoors, and other places where getting outside for exercise is still permitted to varying degrees. People’s appreciation for the relief and solace their local outdoor spaces offer more is being felt more than ever. What has this meant for neighborhood parks, forests and trails?

Trash

From areas in Bountiful, Utah to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, reports are coming in from across the nation of trashed natural areas, vandalism and a disregard for physical distancing. With fewer park staff and more people desperate for a touch of nature, it’s essential that everyone pack out all trash to keep ourselves and our parks safe and healthy. Review the Leave No Trace Recommendations for Getting Outside During Covid-19 for more information.

Distancing

Another mounting concern is ensuring adequate physical distancing, when it’s okay to step off the trail and what you can do to practice Leave No Trace while still adhering to the CDC’s recommended six-foot distance.  As you plan your outing, even if just to your neighborhood park, consider if the path you are choosing will allow you to pass someone with six-foot of distance while both remaining on the trail. If not, consider a different route, or stick to sidewalks for the time being. If your family members or quarantine group are out together, make sure you walk single file when passing to allow people as much distance as possible. Many areas have maps highlighting wider trails and those which are less heavily visited, such as this one on Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. Ultimately, if you do need to step off trail to allow someone a safe 6ft space to pass, try to step to the side on somewhere durable, such as rocks, sand or gravel.

Dog Waste

Again there are reports from areas across the country that people are not picking up after their dogs since the Covid-19 crisis began. Whether the reason is difficulty opening poop bags, a reluctance to open wildlife-proof trash cans (thus touching a potentially infected surface), or just a sense of bigger issues to worry about—picking up after your dog is still important.

If you are concerned, plan to take your dog’s waste all the way to your own trash can. Since we are all sticking a little closer to home right now anyway it shouldn’t be too far to go.

As the situation continues to evolve, Leave No Trace is here as a resource that can be adapted to our altered outdoor recreation. As always, follow local, state and federal guidelines at usa.gov/state-health–stay safe and protect the outdoors for future adventures.

For more information visit coronavirus.gov.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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