With limited staff and services likely in many parks and protected areas, trash and recycling receptacles may not be emptied as often as normal or at all. This can result in trash overflowing from receptacles which becomes litter and can harm wildlife. Instead, pack all your trash and recyclables out with you all the way home and utilize your own receptacles.
Avoid Times and Places of High Use
Absolutely avoid crowded parks, trails and beaches. Social distancing applies in the outdoors just as it does anywhere else. To avoid being part of the creation of large crowds and groups at popular outdoor areas, spread out to less popular spots, and avoid times of highest use if possible.
You and your outdoor worldYou may be asking: Can I go for a hike or walk on the beach right now? Your personal vulnerability, access to local and uncrowded spaces and more play into this decision. Then there are communities and states with either lockdown or “shelter in place” mandates. Where COVID-19 is spiking, it may not be possible to get out at all, so pay close attention to guidance in your community before heading outside. Then follow social distancing guidance, meaning staying at least six-feet away from anyone you aren’t living with.
As businesses limit services or direct their staff to work remotely, closures should be expected. The result could be a lack of water, restrooms, campgrounds, or other facilities—or even entire areas closed to the public. Many experts are recommending that you refrain from using public restrooms and other open facilities at all right now. Take necessary precautions like bringing extra food and water, learning how to go to the bathroom outdoors, and being ready to pack all your trash out with you.
Proceed With Caution
Keep in mind that as our healthcare system becomes more overwhelmed, it’s important to reduce potential accidents that would add to the stress on first responders and medical professionals. As much as possible, stick to activities and areas that are within your regular routine and take it easy.
Don’t Forget the Leave No Trace 7 Principles
Just because times are tough, doesn’t mean the Leave No Trace 7 Principles fly out the window. Our outdoor spaces will likely be receiving less attention from staff and volunteers right now. This means our shared spaces need us to act as stewards more than ever. Remember, it is still just as important to prepare for spring weather conditions, stick to trails, dispose of our waste properly, minimize fire impacts, leave what we find, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and…
Be Considerate and Kind to Other Visitors
We are all in this together. Be considerate of others in the outdoors by ensuring that you practice social distancing. Be particularly kind to park staff during these challenging times. Help them do their job by doing your part to take care of each other and our beloved outdoors.
We will see you out there on the other side of this crisis!
To see more about Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics CLICK HERE.