Blue skies, cool breezes and dry trails mean a lot of us are heading to our favorite spots on the CREW trails.
Last weekend, a group of campers reported that they found an old pile of trash at one of our primitive campsites. I returned later that day to clean it up for our next group of campers and, what was one small pile of old trash led to three different areas behind the camping area where trash had repeatedly been dumped.
I apologized to the new campers for the trash, cleaned up three bags and left. On the way back to the gate, I collected candy wrappers, a disposable coffee cup, and a pile of dog waste bags that were neatly placed next to our only port-o-potty.
I had two teenage helpers with me, and one of them said, “Why don’t you just have a trash can out here?”
That’s a very good question. And we have very long, detailed answers we can give. But, the simple answer is this:
Leave No Trace.
There are seven Leave No Trace principles, found here at lnt.org:
Plan ahead and prepare: Know where you are going and the regulations for that area.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Concentrate on using existing trails, campsites and surfaces. Good campsites are found, not altered.
Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out. This includes waste created by pets.
Leave what you find: Refrain from taking rocks and sticks to stack near trail heads for future use; do not remove anything you find on the trail.
Minimize campfire impacts: Keep fires small and only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. This is highly important during our current very dry season.
Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed them.
Be considerate of other visitors: Treat others on the trail as you would wish to be treated.
In addition to our posting signs about leaving no trace, we also have trail use guidelines, which go into more specific details on our website: crewtrust.org/home/trail-guidelines.
It would be easy to post more signs, but the reality is, the best way to change behavior is to model the behavior we want to see.
Which is what most of our visitors do, and we appreciate you and your continued efforts to leave no trace. And we hope that, as you meet new hikers on the trail or take friends and relatives out, you pass the leave no trace principles on to them.
For complete SFWMD public use rules, visit sfwmd.gov.
For more information on how you can help with trail clean-ups and become a volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.