Keys to Responsible
Recreation in the BackCountry
by: Chuck Fitzgerald
Having a good time is pretty high on everyone’s to do list, especially
when surrounded by awesome views and super-awesome friends. We hike, bike,
climb, camp, raft, fish, hunt, four-wheel, sleep and eat – among other
things – in the backcountry. If not done properly, that’s a lot of wear
and tear on our natural resources. Responsible recreation ensures future
outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as you have.
Without a recreation code of ethics, our backcountry would become a thing
of the past. Here are some universally agreed upon keys for having a good
time – the right way.
-Take only pictures, leave only footprints. If you carry it in, carry
it out. This will eliminate litter.
-Protect water sources from contamination. Use bio-degradable soap, or
try hot water soap-less dishwashing, bathing and clothes washing. When
using soap (even bio-degradable) and toothpaste, dispose of the wastewater
at least 100 feet away from natural water sources, well or faucet water
-Be a good neighbor - control your noise and your pets. Always keep
your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and away from public swimming
areas. Barking and not cleaning up after pets leads to many complaints
from other outdoor enthusiasts. Do not leave pets unattended.
-Be respectful of the natural environment – keep the trees and shrubs
alive and growing. Nails and wires should not be used on trees because
they can cause serious damage to trees. Burn damage will permanently scar
or kill a tree.
-When hiking or biking, stay on designated trails. This keeps damage to
vegetation and erosion in one place.
-Before leaving your campsite, clean your fire pit and your campsite.
Make it as clean as you would want it if you were arriving that day. The
next user will appreciate it.
Leave-No-Trace, www.lnt.org, offers the following Principles for
Outdoor Ethics: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable
Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize
Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife and Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Here is the Tread Lightly!, www.treadlightly.org, pledge: Travel and
recreate with minimum impact, Respect the environment and the rights of
others, Educate yourself – plan and prepare before you go, Allow for
future use of the outdoors – leave it better than you found it and
Discover the rewards of responsible recreation.
Responsible recreation means having the common sense and the courtesy
to enjoy the backcountry without spoiling someone else’s experience. Most
outdoor enthusiasts understand this very well and spend a good deal of
their time restoring, enhancing and conserving our backcountry. Have a
good time when you’re outdoors, share these keys with your friends and use
this information to Get It Right The First Time.
Chuck Fitzgerald ©2004. All Rights Reserved.