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New Weekly Article Natural Beauty
How to Ethically and Responsibly Enjoy the Outdoors
Parks. Beaches. Forests. Grasslands. These natural settings, some of which are wild and untamed, can be ideal summer vacation destinations; they all offer the perfect place to get away from it all. As you prepare to explore the great outdoors, plan your trip with fun and safety in mind. Soak in the beauty of your surroundings, but take precautions to leave these refuges just as you found them so you can continue to enjoy them for years to come.
Whether you will be visiting a national park or a wilderness area, know the area’s regulations and special concerns (like extreme weather). Be prepared for known hazards and typical emergencies. These include how to escape if your park is threatened by wildfire or heavy rains; what to do if you or a friend are injured while hiking; and how to respond if you encounter wildlife. To minimize your impact, travel in small groups. Plan how you will dispose of food waste and other trash during your visit. Learn to use maps, compasses, and GPS systems as way-finding tools rather than “breadcrumb” trails that use markers or flags. Know the operating hours of your park, if applicable, and time your visit accordingly.
LEAVE IT AS YOU FIND IT
Some parks and forests provide a glimpse of what the landscape was like before urbanization. Other sites commemorate major historical events. As you visit, look but don’t touch cultural and historic structures and artifacts. If you are enamored with the rocks or plants of a region, take some photos as a souvenir instead of removing the actual items. A good truism to follow is “Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.” There is another side to this coin: don’t add anything either. Don’t carve or paint your name on trees or structures, and avoid planting anything in the wild.
WATCH THE WATER
Warm weather draws people to the water. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, river rafting, and boating are safe activities when you take precautions. Learn to swim, wear a life jacket, and keep a close eye on children and the elderly. Check the specific lake, river, or ocean beach you’ll be visiting for current safety concerns. Bodies of water provide unique ecosystems. Remember that there are many (mostly harmless) fish and other wildlife beneath the surface, so avoid introducing anything into the water that could harm them.
It can be thrilling to see creatures like bear and moose in the wild. But remember—they are wild. Observe animals only from a distance, and never offer them food. Know what wildlife you may encounter accidentally and learn how to respond to those encounters in the safest way possible. Be vigilant for smaller animals such as ticks, spiders, snakes, ants, rabid animals, and other people’s pets. Keep your pets leashed and safe as well.
PREVENT FOREST FIRES
In 2015, 58,916 human-caused wildfires burned over 2 million acres in the US alone. Facts like that explain why the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign (www.smokeybear.com), created in 1944, is the longest-running public service ad campaign in US history. The website suggests using fire alternatives, such as lanterns for light, and details how to safely build and extinguish campfires; never build a fire in dry conditions, and build your fire in a spot not affected by wind gusts. Written by Ronda Swaney. Photography provided by ©iStockphoto.com/anouchka.
Parks and forests offer an embarrassment of riches for you to enjoy. Find out more about how to safely and ethically explore the great outdoors and stay up-to-date on park happenings, wildlife information, and volunteer opportunities with the following websites.
- U.S. Forest Service
- Choose a specific national forest or grassland to visit and get the must-have info before you go.
- U.S. National Park Service
- The U.S. National Park Service just celebrated its centennial. Search all the national parks and plan your visit.
- Parks Canada
- Their mission statement says, “We protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage . . . in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.”
- Leave No Trace
- This member-driven organization teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
- Tread Lightly!
- This group works to protect and enhance recreation access and teaches people how to be good stewards.
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Raul Acuña - Raul has been in the Real Estate Industry since 2005. Raul began working at an REO brokerage before opening his own REO company in 2010. Raul has a business degree from Cal Poly Pomona, ....