Dear RockHounders –
In an effort to educate and promote the #Responsible Recreation coalition, all my blogs have much the same post this week, and this is pretty much the same.
Many of our public land visitors today are new to the outdoor recreation experience. They have not experienced the risks and rewards of recreating outdoors and thus put themselves and our first responders at risk.
Trash dots the trails, restrooms are strewn with paper, and what was packed in was not packed out. There have been several forest fires where campers have failed to put out the camp fires and heavy winds have pushed them into nearby woods.
A group of like-minded outdoor recreation enthusiasts began talking about the need to educate and encourage #responsible recreation in our local, state and federal parks, trails, and lakes. This includes the thousands of acres of lands we rock hound.
The Coalition began in Washington State, where the pandemic started. During an online Summit this past week between the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, REI and the Utah State Parks Department, as well as other individual groups and businesses, and myself, it became clear that it’s time to bring back an education program to remind visitors we must all be good stewards of public lands.
We’d like to see everyone #recreate responsibly by following these guidelines:
- Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a plan B.
- Plan Ahead: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
- Stay Close to Home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.
- Practice Physical Distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
- Play It Safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
- Leave No Trace: Respect public lands and communities .
These six guidelines will go a long way to reducing risks and increasing the quality of your experience.
“No matter how you like to recreate, we are all united by the love we share for our public lands and waters,” said Adam Cramer, executive director of Outdoor Alliance. “We have a shared responsibility to not only care for these places but to care for our fellow citizens, and these guidelines help show the way.”
There was a good discussion about safety and educating users on how to use the trails. REI representatives indicated they are working on teaching users that they should be respecting the elderly, moving over by 6 feet when passing oncoming hikers, and yield to uphill traffic.
The focus for the educational campaign this next week is for outdoor enthusiasts to sign the pledge to practice #Responsible Recreation and support efforts to get people outdoors. In doing so you’ll follow state and Federal guidelines and share your adventure in a respectful way on social outlets.
Joining REI and Utah State Parks, we’ll post a reminder each day and hope you’ll take the pledge and follow the guidelines.
About the Responsible Recreation Coalition
The Recreate Responsibly Coalition is a newly formed partnership of nonprofits, outdoor businesses and land managers developing and sharing best practices to protect each other and our natural landscapes. We are a diverse community brought together by our love of the outdoors and a desire to help everyone experience the benefits of nature safely during this public health crisis.
Building off the work of the Washington state coalition, which formed to provide guidance to the public as Washington’s public lands were slowly reopening, the national coalition is a working group that looks to unify and amplify common-sense guidance about getting outside during COVID-19.
The national group includes partner organizations representing a diverse community of outdoor groups and advocates committed to helping all Americans navigate new norms and experience the benefits of nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, visit recreateresponsibly.org.