Recreating Responsibly: Sustainability and Leave No Trace Principles

“Even though we love the mountains, the mountains don’t always love us,” CWRAG owner Josh Baruch says to me over coffee in his North Boulder home. As a person who has a deep love for the outdoors, I take a sip of my coffee and pretend I don’t feel like someone just broke my heart. Why don’t the mountains love us back? Well, one reason for this autonomous relationship is the negative impacts humans have on natural spaces. According to a new report from the State Demography office, Colorado’s population is growing by 60,000 to 75,000 people per year. The reasons for this are vast, but many moved here to enjoy the close proximity to natural spaces. With the significant increase of people here in Colorado, we must ask ourselves: “how we can be good stewards to the land?” One way to ensure the natural spaces we love so much are being respected and preserved, is by following the Leave No Trace principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoors Ethics website (https://lnt.org/) is an excellent source for detailed educational information. The work they are doing to preserve natural spaces, and even provide research and resources for ongoing education and ways to get involved. According to their website, “9 out of 10 people in the outdoors are uninformed about their impacts.” Their mission is to spread information to people so everyone can be an outdoors advocate. Many of us have heard of these principles before, but as a guide with Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, I often see good-intentioned people make mistakes. Common LNT mistakes I see include: orange peels left on the trail, toilet paper tucked behind trees, dog feces bags left on the trail, and trails being widened on muddy days. Besides having the knowledge on how to leave no trace when you’re outside, getting involved in your community is another way to be a good steward to our beloved land. Stewardship Classes and Events are frequently held at REI Co-op, check out their event schedule here: https://www.rei.com/events/a/stewardship.

Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides staff are ambassadors and partners for more than 17 federal, state and local land managers, and we promote long term preservation and stewardship for these places. Although the mountains may never love us the way we love them, we can do our best to help preserve and protect them for future generations to come.

  • Written by Jessica Bailey. Adventurer and Guide for Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides.