Leave No Trace Brings Outdoor Ethics to Buena Vista Youth

Friends of Fourmile bring Leave No Trace Center’s Hot Spot program to the Fourmile area near Buena Vista

“Friends of Fourmile”
A chapter of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association-GARNA


Primary contact: Jeanne Younghaus (Fourmile Leave No Trace coordinator) 395-3887 jlarkriver@rockymountains.net
Secondary contact: Alan Robinson (Friends Publicity) 395-3396 robinson@chaffee.net
GARNA contact: Alison Ramsey (Executive Director) 539-5106 info@garna.org


Friends of Fourmile bring Leave No Trace Center's
Hot Spot program to the Fourmile area near Buena Vista

May 9, 2012. Buena Vista, CO: Early in 2012 the 100,000 acre Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Fourmile area east of Buena Vista was designated a “Hotspot” by the national organization, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. It was nominated by the Friends of Fourmile chapter of GARNA, with support from public land managers. One of only four such areas designated nationally, Fourmile was singled out because of heavy pressures from recreational use and as an area where educating visitors in principles of Leave No Trace when camping and recreating might be effective. These principles are: 1) Plan ahead and prepare; 2) Camp and travel on durable surfaces; 3) Dispose of waste properly; 4) Leave what you find; 5) Minimize campfire impacts; 6) Respect wildlife; and 6) Be considerate of other visitors.

As part of Hotspot designation the Friends of Fourmile recently hosted Leave No Trace trainers in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management and local schools. Leave No Trace presentations were made April 27th in Jeff Keidel's 11th and 12th grade ecology classes in Buena Vista. More school programs followed April 30th and May 1st in Fourmile organized by Salida's Youth Ecology Literacy Program. This BLM/GARNA/Salida school program brought 10th and 6th graders out of the classroom to talk to BLM, Division of Parks and Wildlife, Forest Service and volunteers about Fourmile's resources and its role in recreation. One topic was the Leave No Trace principles, and each program also worked on a BLM trail-building project with the Southwest Conservation Corps.

The final Hotspot event was an Awareness Workshop. The goals were first to review those Leave No Trace principles; secondly, participants wanted training how to communicate these principles when making contact with visitors whether as volunteers, public land managers, or commercial guides and operators so that people actually change their “Less Than Leave No Trace” behavior. A big part of the Leave No Trace approach is a technique known as “Authority of the Resource.” This avoids emphasizing the public agencies' list of rules and regulations (and penalties) and substitutes a more relaxed approach which stresses what happens to the wildlife, forest, soils and water resources when people let fires get away or burn live trees or expand campsites onto undisturbed meadows or ride vehicles off-trail. The bottom line: desirable behavior is more likely if people understand how their actions affect the way nature operates and not just when they fear a penalty.

The Leave No Trace Center staff will return to Fourmile this Memorial Day to join the Friends, land managers and other volunteers in their major annual visitor contact and education weekend as the busy summer season begins.

About the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:
The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. For more information about Leave No Trace or the Hot Spot program, visit: www.LNT.org

About the Friends of Fourmile chapter of GARNA:
This 9 year old volunteer service group assists local Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service manage recreation and educate visitors on a 100,000 acre section of public lands in Chaffee County, Colorado. See www.garna.org/friends-of-fourmile.htm