— by Chelsea Carson —
The summer solstice has passed and millions of us are heading out to nature, which is a wonderful thing. However, millions of us treading outside can make a huge negative impact on the wild lands and the living beings we are there to enjoy. From flowers reaching their lovely heads to the sun, their whole being focused on setting seed and perpetuating their species, to the animals we so want to see. Imagine if thousands of people came walking through your home during a weekend. You would want then to be thoughtful. Impacts are inevitable but consciously minimizing impacts is our choice.
Nature is not a backdrop for human activities, though we may perceive it that way. It is the very source from which we come, and going out to enjoy it from that perspective can change everything – how we act, and the richness of the experiences we have. If we go out with the attitude and intention of meeting the life that will be surrounding us, we will come back with a nourished soul. If we go out with the intention of respecting all the life around us, we will automatically make less of an impact. Sharing this approach with others you meet can spread the gentleness we so need.
Tips to help you tread lightly this summer as you play and explore outside:
1. Stay on trails or in designated areas.
2. Leave nature as is. Don’t pick flowers, plants, rocks or animal findings.
3. Respect natural sounds in the area and preserve the experience for other visitors.
4. Leave No Trace (https://lnt.org/learn/seven-principles-overview).
5. Pack it in – Pack it out!
6. Do not approach wildlife.
7. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
Chelsea Carson, a graduate student at Idaho State University, is a volunteer at Earthfire Institute. She is helping to build education and outreach capacity with the goal to increase environmental stewardship and community service.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
Then share it to inspire others.