Tread Lightly! Continues to Encourage Good Stewardship as 25th Anniversary Approaches
When riding with me down a national forest road the other day, my 7-year-old son looked out the window and said, "Mommy, look at all of that trash on the side of the road. It's selfish and lazy to litter, isn't it?"
Pleased that he'd paid attention to past converstations we'd had about littering, I responded, "It sure is, Baby."
As we drove along, we continued to pass discarded plastic cups, soda cans and fast food bags. I wondered why the people who tossed those items out of their car windows just couldn't wait until they could toss them in to a garbage can instead.
If you are a hunter, then you understand the importance of good stewardship when it comes to our natural resources, but what about those people who don't understand how important it is to take care of our recreational land, water and wildlife?
I had the opportunity to sit down with Lori McCullough, Tread Lightly!'s executive director, during the 2015 SHOT Show last month. She summed it all up with one simple sentence, You abuse it, we all lose it."
It's quite simple, really. It's up to everyone to protect the future of the outdoor sports we love, as a few people can ruin it for everyone.
So, how can we help ensure that everyone does their part?
Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting outdoor ethics and good stewardship, promotes education as the key.
Most academics agree that the majority of negative impact comes from uninformed people as opposed to those who purposefully set out to do harm, McCullough said. For this reason, our main goal is to educate people on the importance of good stewardship.
Every outdoorsman and woman interested in preserving our natural resources and outdoor recreational opportunities should not only abide by Tread Lightly!'s principles, but teach their children to do the same.
These principles include:
- Travel responsibly on land by staying on the designated roads, trails and areas. Go over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trails. Cross streams only at designated fords. When possible, avoid wet, muddy trails. On water, stay on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.
- Respect the rights of others, including private property owners, all recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. Leave gates as you found them. Yield right of way to those passing you or going uphill. On water, respect anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and those on or near shore.
- Educate yourself prior to your trip by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies. Plan for your trip, take recreation skills classes and know how to operate your equipment safely.
- Avoid sensitive areas on land such as meadows, lake shores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage. Don't disturb historical, archeological or paleontological sites. On water, avoid operating your watercraft in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds.
- Do your part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and repairing degraded areas.
Tread Lightly! also offers a number of specific tips for various types of recreation, ranging from responsible ATV riding to hunting, to mountain bike riding, to boating and everything in between.
The organization will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in October and has just launched the www.JoinTreadLightly.org URL to encourage increased membership in support of its anniversary this year. Ninety percent of funds that Tread Lightly! raises go directly to supporting its mission of promoting responsible recreation through ethics, education and stewardship initiatives.
Check out the Tread Lightly! website for tips on good stewardship, for volunteer opportunities and for information on joining the organization.
Whether you volunteer, donate or simply spread awareness through your actions and words, every little bit counts toward preserving the future of outdoor recreational activities for ourselves and for generations to come,
In what ways do you practice good stewardship?