The great outdoors gives us a lot, and it’s our responsibility as humans to make sure we give back. The great thing is it doesn’t take much added effort or even money to do this, just a little more thought.
Some ways to respect our outdoor community and give back to the outdoors:
- Stay informed and be aware. Know what wildlife exists in the areas you’re visiting, and know how to protect yourself and them. We’ll never say no to a good hunt, but there’s a time and place for this, and unless you’re on a hunting trip, you’re catching your own food, or you’re in a life or death scenario, you should avoid causing harm to the wildlife around you.
- Don’t feed wildlife. The more comfortable animals become with human food, the more likely they are to become a nuisance and invade campsites, which often leads to harm. Keep your campsite clean and pick up trash and excess food.
- Try to avoid hiking at dawn or dusk. This is when wildlife is most active, so hit the trails between breakfast and dinner and allow wildlife to roam and feed freely.
- Inform a ranger of any animal encounters. If you come face-to-face with a bear, moose, mountain lion, or other potentially dangerous animal, make sure you take note of your location, leave the location as soon as it’s safe, and report it to a ranger. This will help keep other hikers and campers safe and aware.
- Inform a ranger of sick animals. If you see a sick or dead animal, especially a larger or more dangerous one, report it to a ranger as this could be a sign of infection or danger in the area. Eradicating it early on means healthier wildlife and a safer environment for all of us.
Leave no trace
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts.
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
Use caution when driving
- Obey speed limits to keep other humans and wildlife safe.
- Watch for crossing animals. Remember, they always have the right of way.
- Watch out for fallen trees. Alert a ranger of any fallen trees as they could cause more problems for other drivers and even animals.
- Stay on the road. Keep off of grass and other plants. There are plenty of people who work hard to keep plants and grass healthy throughout our parks, so respect them and you’ll be respecting nature.
Honor the 200 rule
- Stash your bear canister downwind at a minimum of 200 feet.
- Bury your body waste 200 feet from camp and any water sources.
- Keep your campsite at least 200 feet away from bodies of water.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Carefully store and refill fuel.
- Completely extinguish cigarettes, cigars, and matches before disposing of them.
- Make sure your campfire is completely extinguished before leaving a campsite or going to sleep.
Share the outdoors
- Instill a love for the outdoors in your kids at an early age, and teach them to respect the outdoors at all times.
- Hike and camp with others. This helps decrease vehicle traffic to parks and also helps instill a love and respect in others. The more people that learn to love and respect the outdoors, the better.
Don’t broadcast locations
- We have a serious problem with overcrowded national parks. More foot traffic means more trash, more traffic, and more trail damage. The best way to help prevent this is by not posting the location of your photos on social media. People see your incredible views and want to visit for themselves. Especially if you have a large following, this can be catastrophic for the area. Keep your locations hushed -- it even makes it feel like it’s your own place.
Of course, there are a million other ways to give back. Keep your campsite clean, volunteer with an outdoor organization or park, adopt a trail, organize a cleanup, donate to national parks… the list goes on. How are you giving back to the great outdoors? Let’s help each other.