Using the backcountry? Clean up behind youself

Becky Campbell • Aug 26, 2019 at 12:00 AM

If you plan on using the natural resources around Northeast Tennessee, there are a few “best practices” a national organization have that will ensure your presence was never known.

The group’s website notes Leave No Trace is a nonprofit organization founded in 1994, even though the Leave No Trace concept is more than a half-century old.

“In 1987, a ‘no trace’ program was formed for wilderness and backcountry travel,” the website said. “The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management cooperatively distributed a pamphlet entitled “Leave No Trace Land Ethics.” In the early 1990s, the National Outdoor Leadership School was enlisted to develop hands-on, science-based minimum impact education training for non-motorized recreational activities.”

The organization, now known as the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, develops and expands Leave No Trace training and educational resources. The Leave No Trace Center conducts important research that impacts public lands and the general public.

It engages with a diverse range of partners from the federal land management agencies and outdoor industry corporations to nonprofit environmental and outdoor organizations and youth-serving groups.”

Locally, Kayla Carter, outdoor development manager for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, or NETREP, is a certified trainer for Leave No Trace and has taught the “train the trainer” class so others can spread the word about the best practices Leave No Trace supports.

“It’s a national organization, and there's a master educator level. I’m trained to teach courses in Leave No Trace. “I partnered with NOLI (Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute) to teach the Leave No Trace trainer classes,” she said. It’s not part of her job at NETREP, and she donates her time to teach the classes.

“We focus on backcountry ethics. Backcountry applies to any setting on public lands,” Carter said. “It could be a day hike, mountain biking or overnight camping. But the practices can also apply to front country locations.”

The basic guideline? Pick up after yourself. But the actual seven principles of Leave No Trace are:

• Plan ahead and prepare

• Camp and walk on durable surfaces

• Dispose of waste properly.

• Leave what you find.

• Minimize campfire impacts.

• Respect wildlife.

• Respect others.

While the principles themselves can seem self-explanatory, the Leave No Trace class goes into much greater detail on each one.

Carter will teach the next Leave No Trace class Sept. 7 and 8.

“Our class is two days. The first day they learn the principles and teaching best practices, and on the second day they teach it back to each other,” she said. “We would love to have more state park employees or any professionals who are in outdoor places or if you’re in a role where you interact with the public.”

Carter said the Leave No Trace program is important to protecting the natural resources around us.

“The more that we promote our natural resources to wider audiences, it’s good for locals and visitors to know how to take care of those resources,” she said. “It's hard to balance over-use of outdoor spaces. We want them to know about our outdoor resources, and we want (those resources) to be there for future generations.”

For more information about the two-day class, or to book a spot, visit https://www.nolilearn.org/bookings, email info@nolilearn.org or call (423) 641-0100. The cost is $60.

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