The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and its Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers team are partnering with the Shawnee National Forest to host community events and educational activities August 27 and 28 at Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. This iconic scenic area has experienced an increase in trash, trail erosion and damage to plants and trees in recent years.
The Hot Spot Program, a key component of the Leave No Trace In Every Park initiative, raises community awareness and brings solutions and prevention measures to popular natural areas around the country. These places face heavy recreational use and, consequently, the misuse of trails, parks and open space area.
“The cumulative impact of so many people enjoying Garden of the Gods Recreation Area can have a negative effect,” according to Amanda Neiman, Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer. “In most cases, the land impact isn’t due to a malicious intent to harm nature and wildlife. Instead, it’s simply lack of Leave No Trace education and practices.”
“We are thrilled to work with Leave No Trace to help raise awareness for the future enjoyment and preservation of our beautiful landscape,” said Tim Pohlman, Shawnee National Forest District Ranger.
The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers provide public education about how to reduce impacts to the outdoors. The following is a list of events happening at the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area that are open to the public:
Saturday August 27
Meet the Traveling Trainers
10a.m. to 4p.m.
The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers will have a booth set up at the Observation Trail trailhead at the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. They will be joined by the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau and Friends of the Shawnee National Forest and will have information on other great places and events in southern Illinois. Additionally, Touch of Nature Environmental Center staff will have fun and educational Leave No Trace activities on the trail.
6p.m. to 7p.m.
Join the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers at Garden of the Gods Pharaoh Campground for an interactive educational program to learn how to minimize your impact when in the outdoors.
Sunday August 28:
9a.m. to noon
Join the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers and the River to River Trail Society to clean up Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. Registration is required to participate in trash clean up. Please RSVP to 618-833-8576.
Meet the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers
1p.m. to 4p.m.
The trainers will have a booth set up at the trailhead for the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area. They will provide free educational hangtags and fun educational activities for all ages.
Leave no Trace Tips:
Forest visitors can use simple Leave No Trace tips to protect the outdoors.
- Trash your Trash
Put litter—even crumbs, peels and cores— in garbage bags and carry it home or throw it in trash receptacles. Extra food, even apple cores and banana peels, can do great damage to wildlife. Did you know it takes up to two years for orange or banana peels to decompose in nature, more than 10 years for plastic bags and more than 80 years for aluminum cans?
- Dog Dogma
Use a plastic bag to pack out your dog’s poop to a garbage can. Dog waste can be harmful to the natural environment and can cause the spread of disease.
- Take Only Pictures. Leave Only Footprints
According to U.S. state and national park services, Americans logged 1.6 billion visits to national and state park lands last year. If we all took a memento from nature during those visits, the landscape would change dramatically. Fill the memory card on your camera rather than your pockets and leave nature as you found it for others to enjoy.
- Keep Wildlife Wild
Human food is unhealthy for wildlife, and feeding them can have unfortunate consequences, such as drawing them to people and roads and making them sick.
- Refuse the Makeover
No need for a major remodel of nature. Bring your own lightweight camp or picnic furniture and conveniences such as camp gas stoves, sleeping pads, chairs and lanterns. When you leave, it should look as though you were never there.
About Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in a national nonprofit organization that protects the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly. Their Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers are mobile teams of educators that visit 48 states every year delivering Leave No Trace programs, such as Hot Spots, to more than 15 million people. For more information, visit: www.LNT.org.
About Shawnee National Forest
Administered by the USDA Forest Service, the Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide.As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee. Follow us on Twitter athttps://twitter.com/shawneenf and Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/shawneenatlforest.
The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes 20 states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.
The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us.