Understanding the Concept of 'Leave No Trace' (LNT)

If you identify yourself as an outdoor enthusiast, then it’s unlikely this is the first time you’ve heard the phrase ‘Leave No Trace’. With that being said, the Leave No Trace is a sentiment very well-known to us here at The Nature Place and our wider community at the Colorado Outdoor Education Center.

What is Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace is a non-profit organization that endeavors to educate the public to properly care for the outdoors. With the support of extensive research, Leave No Trace introduced a framework of ethics and best practices for us all to follow in order to protect the natural environment when we are using it for outdoor activities. This framework is broken in seven easy to follow principles we should apply to any outdoor recreation, whether it be hiking, rock climbing, biking, camping, fishing or anything in between. The purpose behind educating the public and those managing public lands is to not only prevent the need for costly restoration programs, but also to protect the environment and natural resources for future generations.

What are the Seven Principles?

Leave No Trace’s Seven Principles is a framework designed to help us make responsible decisions when exploring the outdoors; ensuring we continue to enjoy and protect land we visit. The seven principles are:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire)
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

The Leave No Trace organization explains these Seven Principles in-depth with valuable advice if you want to learn more about each for your next adventure.

The Nature Place Colorado Property Site
The Nature Place Colorado Property Site
Leave No Trace at The Nature Place

Our community members here not only at The Nature Place, but also the collective Colorado Outdoor Education Center, are strong advocates for Leave No Trace. We believe in the seven principles, which align with the underlying philosophy of our mission.

“Our mission is to provide uncompromising customer service, quality accommodations and food, and educational programs that enhance a sense of self, sense of community, sense of Earth, sense of wonder, to help your sense of the future. We define customer service as a relentless pursuit of excellence in communication, follow-through and in exceeding expectations.”

The Outdoor Foundation discovered in their 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report that the number of people getting outdoors has grown more than 3 percent annually in the last three years. Not only is this a staggering figure, but 2020 saw the highest participation rates ever recorded 7.1 million more Americans getting outdoors. What do these numbers mean to us? They reinforce the importance of educating people of all ages and walks of life about the importance of properly caring for the natural world. Here at The Nature Place, we actively demonstrate the seven principles of Leave No Trace. You will notice if you’ve stayed with us or read on our website that some of our own key principles reflect these as well.

Caring for the Environment – We have been educating ourselves and others about the environment and how to properly care for it since the property was purchased in 1948. Of the 6,000 acres of land belonging to the COEC, 400 acres are utilized by The Nature Place where our visitors stay and staff reside. We strive to continuously learn of new techniques and technologies we can introduce or upgrade in order to improve our stewardship of the business and responsibility to the land.

Learning from the Natural World – Our ‘Leadership Perspective’ program has been designed to provide valuable views on the natural world. We offer our guests access to a full-time naturalist, and the opportunity to be led on nature hikes to learn more about our fauna and flora, Colorado geology, and astronomy.

Building Construction and Remodeling – We recently completed the remodeling of our original apartment suites through the concise use of sustainable practices and materials. We incorporated recycled content carpet, Low E windows, and energy efficient heaters  into the apartments. Our Sportsplex facility and three other buildings produce a percentage of our electricity from photovoltaic panels. As opportunities to upgrade our facilities arise, we continue to discover the most sustainable practices to solve our needs.

Land and Forest Restoration – Since 2005, we have worked with the State of Colorado Forest Service, Pike National Forest and the Coalition of the Upper South Platte to mitigate over 160 acres of forest to successfully improve the forest health and reduce wildfire risk. As time and opportunity allow, we are utilizing more Xeriscape practices in our landscaping on campus in order to reduce our water usage and to be more sustainable.

Green Purchasing – We make environmentally conscious product purchases where possible. Our kitchen purchases organic and local foods when requested by a group, and any paper towels, cups, or napkins are made of 100% recycled material. In addition, we use non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products, and chlorine-free projects when possible and appropriate. Our Housekeeping use Greenworks cleaning products, and our commercial launders use 100% biodegradable detergent. The Nature Place buys in bulk to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as using LED light bulbs where possible to avoid CFLs, installing timers on our exterior lighting, and purchasing energy star approved appliances. 

Recycling – Along with the effort of the entire COEC community, The Nature Place recycles cardboard, aluminum, cans, paper, glass, plastic, computers, and scrap metal. We repurpose any worn towels, mattresses, blankets and linens when we can.

The Nature Place and the wider COEC community continue to educate staff and visitors on the importance of caring for the outdoors. Understanding, protecting and educating others on the natural environment comprise the foundation of our organization’s beliefs and philosophy – without it we could not operate! We strive to respect and conserve the integrity of the wilderness now and for generations to come.

What Can You Do? A Lot. Leave No Trace

Learn more about Leave No Trace: https://lnt.org/
Read The Nature Place’s Mission Statement: https://thenatureplace.net/who-we-are/mission-statement/
Discover more findings from the Outdoor Industry’s ‘2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report’: https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2021-Outdoor-Participation-Trends-Report.pdf

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